By LOUIS FLORES
An e-mail chain published last week by the State of Politics blog reveals that insiders with the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, or DSCC, considered New York City-based The Parkside Group to be a preferred campaign vendor.
"It is preferred that you use the DSCC’s main consultant, the Parkside Group, for these types of services," wrote Joe Billick on behalf of the DSCC in the October 7 e-mail chain. Mr. Billick was exchanging e-mails with a staffer working on the campaign of New York State Senate candidate Brian Howard about the Howard campaign's plans to hire a consulting firm to work on a robocall.
Mr. Howard was running against incumbent State Senator Kathy Marchione (R-Rensselaer). The staffer for the Howard campaign, who was granted anonymity by the State of Politics blog, expressed the campaign's desire to use their own consulting firm, American Strategies, which is based in Washington, DC.
A prior report, published by The New York Observer, noted that the DSCC's chair, State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), expected candidates supported by the DSCC to use Parkside for mailers. This latest report on the State of Politics blog extends Parkside's preferred role to robocalls, too.
The latest State of Politics report concluded by showing that the Howard campaign succeeded in using its own consulting firm for the robocall ; however, not before the Howard campaign staffer indicated that the the Howard campaign was expected to use the campaign vendor preferred by the Rensselaer County Democrats' organization. After reports by The New York Observer, Progress Queens, and the State of Politics blog, state Democrats predictably denied reports about Parkside's preferred relationship.
In a Progress Queens report published last month, questions were raised about the legality of Democratic party organizations forcing candidates expecting institutional support to use campaign vendors preferred by the party organizations. Over a decade ago, after the Brooklyn Democratic Party organization forced judicial candidates to use the party's preferred campaign vendors, then Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes filed criminal charges against Clarence Norman, the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, alleging that county party support could be had -- for the price of supporting preferred campaign vendors.
At the time of last month's Progress Queens' report, the office of Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown (D-Queens) was unable to comment about questions raised by Progress Queens. Contacted on Friday, District Attorney Brown's office did not respond to a request to comment about the latest State of Politics blog report.
District Attorneys in New York City run for public office with the consent of the respective county committee of the Democratic Party, the dominant political party. Government reform activists have long claimed that district attorneys avoid investigating political corruption, because, in order to first run for office and to keep running for reëlection, the district attorneys must campaign with the approval of the chair of their respective Democratic Party county organization. In Queens, conflicts of interest for the District Attorney's Office may also arise through the various campaign consultants and lobbyists employed by other politicians, who share relationships with the chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, some government reform activists say. The chair of the Queens Democratic Party is U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (D-Queens). In the past, Rep. Crowley has also employed the services of Parkside.