Friday, June 2, 2017

NY State BOE Enforcement Counsel Subpoenas Keyed on Senate Republicans’ Campaign Committees

Subpoenas were issued by the New York State Board of Elections’ (BOE) Enforcement Counsel seeking a wide array of Documents from the New York Senate Republicans’ Campaign Committees, with a focus on Agreements between the Committees and various Campaign Vendors it has employed.

One focus of the Inquiry appears to be on the Senate Republicans’ Payments to a Vendor called The Prosper Group, a Digital Advertising firm in Indiana, whose work assisted the successful 2014 Campaign of Republican State Sen. George Amedore.

Under Election Law, only Funds from Campaign Accounts can be used for Explicit Campaign Activities. The Law in the past has been little Enforced.

The Subpoenas were issued by Sugarman’s Independent Office, not the Broader Board of Elections, which has two Republican and two Democratic Commissioners. That was one of the issues highlighted by the Senate GOP Attorneys. The Subpoenas ask for Documents concerning Contracts between the Senate Republicans’ Campaign or Housekeeping and Campaign Vendors. They ask for Proposals from Vendors about Services they might provide, and Records of what Services were Actually Provided. And they ask whether there was a “sharing of services or products” provided by these vendors. The Subpoenas in addition ask for “communications” between the Senate Republicans’ Campaign Arm or Housekeeping arm and Candidates about the Services provided by Vendors to the Senate Republicans.

Besides the Prosper Group, the Vendors about which the Board of Elections Enforcement Counsel is seeking Documents include: The Strategy Group, Executive Star Services, Strategic Media Placement, Digital X-Press, Public Opinion Strategies, Brigar X-Press Solution, Brabender Cox, Barry Zeplowitz & Associates, and FLS Connect and Facebook.

In late May, Senate Republicans sought to Quash the Subpoenas, arguing that they were overly Broad and Burdensome, terming them part of a “political witch-hunt.”

The Subpoenas, on File at Albany County Supreme Court, ask Officials for the Senate Republicans’ Campaign Arm and Housekeeping Account, which is meant to Fund only Party-Building activities, to produce 38 different Types of Records, mostly focusing on the Work provided by Campaign Vendors. The Subpoenas were issued on March 22nd by the Office of Board of Elections Independent Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman, an Appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In Court Filings, Attorneys for the Senate Republicans’ Campaign Arm argue that the Subpoenas are unduly Broad and Burdensome. They also argue that the Subpoenas are not Valid because Sugarman’s office has not Demonstrated any Basic Wrongdoing or Misconduct.

According to the Senate Republicans’ Court Filings, one area of Interest for Sugarman on which the Subpoenas were based is work of the Prosper Group. According to the Senate GOP Court Filing, the Prosper Group’s website has touted its work in 2014 in Senate District 46, now held by Amedore. “In a call on May 3, the Chief Enforcement Counsel [Sugarman] theorized, without any support, that the Prosper Group provided advertising support for the express purpose of supporting a specific candidate and was paid for this work through the housekeeping account,” the Senate Republicans’ Court Filing says. It goes on to say that this is based “merely on speculation and therefore cannot supply a basis for these Subpoenas.” The Senate GOP Court Filing states that the Prosper Group was paid through both the Republicans’ Campaign Account and Housekeeping Accounts.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, said in a statement that the “subpoenas unnecessarily abridge the Committee’s first amendment rights of free political expression and association.” “There is no factual basis for the issuance of these subpoenas,” Reif said. “It is a back door political attack on an organization that has a proven record of successfully running campaigns and winning elections. It also threatens our two-party system here in New York.” “These subpoenas are overly broad and burdensome, and would require SRCC to open up its books in an unprecedented way by turning over virtually every piece of paper we have ever produced to the opposition,” Reif added. “No other campaign committee has faced such a demand. This is not an investigation; it is a political witch-hunt that should scare every New Yorker who believes in free and fair elections. We look forward to the Court’s decision on this blatant and unconstitutional use of power.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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