Department of Education investigating Crowley and Van Bramer for electioneering on school property : source

Electioneering work by Councilmembers on school property has been referred to the DOE's Office of Special Investigations

By LOUIS FLORES

On Monday, 11 September, New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, left, was campaigning with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, in the background, at Queens PS 229 in Woodside. Source : Kim Caruana/Used With Permission

On Monday, 11 September, New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, left, was campaigning with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, in the background, at Queens PS 229 in Woodside. Source : Kim Caruana/Used With Permission

Allegations that New York City Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) were campaigning on the day before the September Democratic Party primary on school property have been referred to the Office of Special Investigations of the New York City Department of Education. Information of the referral was provided to Progress Queens by a source. According to Chancellor's Regulation D-130, "no candidate for public office, including an elected official seeking reelection, may visit any Department of Education school building during the 60 calendar days prior to a primary and/or election," except in accordance with some exceptions.

In particular, Chancellor's Regulation D-130 generally prohibits the use of school property for electioneering work during after-school hours. In a prior report, Progress Queens published a photograph showing Councilmember Van Bramer standing next to Councilmember Crowley, who was hiding behind a gentleman. The officials were standing on the playground of Queens P.S. 229. According to information received by Progress Queens, the photograph of Councilmembers Crowley and Van Bramer was taken after children were let out of class on Monday, 11 September. The only exceptions to the general prohibition of after-school use of school property for electioneering work would be for candidate forums, provided, however, that all candidates would have been invited for the forum, or if public officials were engaged in use of public school property in a manner that was directly related to their official public duties and responsibilities.

After publication of the prior report by Progress Queens, a representative of Councilmember Crowley's committee to reëlect declined an opportunity to issue a statement to Progress Queens in response to the prior report. Councilmember Van Bramer has not answered prior requests for interviews, and he did not immediately answer a request for comment for this report.

The Office of Special Investigations, which is a section of the Department of Education, investigates "corporal punishment and verbal abuse against students," according to a page on the Agency's Web site, but the office has broader jurisdiction over "allegations of improper and unlawful behavior."

The appearance of a pattern and practise of using official capacities for personal or political gains

In the prior Progress Queens report, Councilmember Crowley's primary challenger, Robert Holden, accused the incumbent officeholder of using her official capacity to gain entry into private apartment buildings to give her campaign representatives advantages for electioneering work, opportunities, which were denied to the Holden campaign. In a wide-ranging interview with Progress Queens for the prior report, Mr. Holden, who is campaigning to unseat Councilmember Crowley in the November general election, said that Councilmember Crowley has used her office and status to exert influence over others. He cited several examples. Speaking generally of incumbent officeholders, Mr. Holden said, "When they wield their power unfairly, that's against the law."

Separately, it has been revealed that representatives of Councilmember Van Bramer's committee to reëlect have posted campaign posters or flyers on the property of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in violation of the Agency's rules. "No person shall post, distribute or display any sign, poster, notice, advertisement or other printed or written matter in or on any facility or conveyance without the permission of the authority, except as otherwise provided by law." See 21 CRR-NY 1050.5(b).

For this report, an official with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, the Municipal Agency tasked with investigating ethics violations, referred questions to the New York City Board of Elections, which, in turn, did not answer advance questions.

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