summer, Council Member Debi Rose’s campaign treasurer swore to and provided
intricate affidavits for the Campaign Finance Board in response to inquiries
about the campaign’s relationship with Data & Field Services, the
for-profit company owned by the Working Families Party.
But when on
Wednesday he was presented on the stand with the affidavits as part of the case
being brought against Rose and Data & Field Services by Randy Mastro, the
treasurer, David Thomas, said he had not written the affidavits—and in fact,
was unfamiliar with most of the information contained within them.
“It was part
of the document that the campaign gave me to sign,” Thomas said at one,
disavowing responsibility for the assertions of one affidavit, adding a few
moments later by ay of explanation, “the way our campaign ran was a lot of
One of the
affidavits in question was filed in response to an August 25 CFB document
request apparently in response to two City
Hall articles published in August. The first examined the relationship
between the Working Families Party, Working Families-endorsed candidates and Data
& Field Services (DFS). The second examined the relationship between some
of these same candidates and New York Citizens Services, which is a subsidiary
contained in the articles “raises concerns regarding the Campaign’s compliance
with the Act and the Rules,” the CFB letter to the Rose campaign states,
continuing, “The information noted in these articles suggests that expenditures
may have been and/or are being made on behalf of the Campaign that are not
independent of the Campaign.”
argument in the case is that the Working Families Party, using Data & Field
Services, provided below-market rate services to the Rose campaign, effectively
giving her massive “in-kind contributions that its captive corporate shell
supported,” as Mastro said in his opening statement.
two contracts between the Rose campaign and DFS: one signed June 7, and another
signed August 7—which went into effect August 10, the same day City Hall published the first article
documenting the significant staffing and service overlaps between DFS and the
Working Families Party. The first contract states that it is to pay for a
full-time campaign manager, and the second states that it is to pay for
canvassing services as well as a part-time worker.
presented evidence meant to demonstrate that a campaign manager provided by
DFS, Vonda McKeithan, had been paid more money by DFS than Rose had paid to
cover that salary. Additionally, he attempted to demonstrate that McKeithan was
just one of several DFS employees working on the Rose campaign, though the
payments do not seem to reflect this. This evidence included statements in
sworn affidavits submitted by Thomas. In pressing his points to Thomas, Mastro
repeatedly used the phrase “you say in the affidavit…”
repeatedly pushed back on these questions, insisting that he was unfamiliar
with the substance of the affidavits.
due respect, I know you say, ‘You say,’” Thomas said, interrupting Mastro at
one point. “I say nothing. Someone else prepared this.”
that the affidavits had been given to him by “campaign management,” though he
confirmed that he had taken them himself to a notary public to sign the
documents under oath. Reviewing their contents on the stand, Thomas professed
ignorance of most of what they contained, and seemed to be confronting several
of the assertions within them for the first time.
facts Mastro sought information on was the identity of Bryan Collinsworth, a
Working Families Party employee who acted as a spokesman for the Rose campaign.
August affidavit to the CFB included a four-point outline of Collinsworth’s
work for the Rose campaign. On the stand on Wednesday, he said he had never
heard of Collinsworth, and was unfamiliar with who Collinsworth was or what
Collinsworth had done for the campaign.
sought information from Thomas on what role Working Families employee Rachel
Goodman had played on the campaign and what payments the campaign made for her
services. Mastro presented evidence he said showed that Goodman was helping
secure endorsements for Rose and providing regular strategic advice to the
campaign as early as June. Mastro also inquired about the services of Emma
Wolfe, then the Working Families elections and campaigns director.
since become chief of staff to Council Member Brad Lander. Wolfe has since
become chief of staff to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
took issue with the fact that the Rose campaign reported payments to DFS long
after the Sept. 15 primary, and had not reported these as outstanding
liabilities by that date.
I didn’t disclose what I was supposed to disclose is because I didn’t have the
invoices in my possession, or the money—could be a bunch of reasons,” Thomas
said, adding when Mastro re-confirmed with him that there were errors, “guilty,
Mandelker, one of the lawyers representing Data & Field Services, moved to
strike this answer from the record and replace Thomas’s word with another.
Island Supreme Court Judge Anthony Giacobbe refused.
it’s what he said,” Giacobbe said.
tried to get information from Thomas about payments for the Voter Activation
Network (VAN), a database provided by Data & Field Services from which the
Rose campaign appears to have drawn at least part of its voter file. Rose
campaign records show a $375 charge for the (VAN). Mastro claimed that DFS’ own
paperwork shows that the VAN should have cost at least $1,500, though standing
outside of the courtroom after the trial recessed for the day, he said, “I
think that’s worth at least a five-figure sum.”
In his own
comments outside the court with Working Families executive director Dan Cantor
at his side, Mandelker urged that no conclusions should be drawn from
Wednesday’s testimony. He had yet to cross-examine Thomas himself, Mandelker
added, but more importantly, he expressed confidence that the facts and coming
expert testimony would bear out that DFS charges “the high end of fair market
value” for services.
campaign, for the services, paid more than other people usually pay for it,”
said he believes that the June 7 and August 7 contracts are meant to be read
together, and cover the same scope of work. He said a $2,900 fee to a part-time
employee covered Goodman’s salary. As for the money to cover Collinsworth’s
salary, Mandelker said “there’s more than enough money to pay all of that stuff
in the contract.” He did not offer an explanation for why Goodman’s costs were
delineated while Collinsworth’s were not.
that though the DFS contract with the Rose campaign describes fees paid to “1 full-time campaign manager,” this does not mean that the money was paid to a
single human being.
not,” Mandelker said. “It covers the time
of one full-time employee.”
Among those expected to take the stand on Thursday are Wolfe, Cantor and Working Families deputy director Bill Lipton–all of whom spent Wednesday in a witness room waiting to be called in to provide testimony.
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