James slapped with $5k fine - Questions arise over expenditures

The Brooklyn Paper
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City Councilmember Letitia James last week was slapped with a $5,000 fine thanks to her connections with an old crony of convicted former Democratic boss Clarence Norman.

James’ 35th Council District includes Clinton Hill and Fort Greene as well as parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) levied the fine on James for her failure to provide requested expenditure documentation concerning her receipt of $91,564 in public funds during her 2005 primary and general election campaigns.

CFB spokesperson Erik Friedman said while the James campaign filed an expenditure report, they were not able to substantiate some of the field work done by Visibility Consulting Services (VCS), 1622 Bedford Avenue.

VCS is owned by Moses (Musa) Moore, who stepped in briefly for former Kings County Democratic boss Clarence Norman as the 43rd Assembly District leader, after Norman was accused and later convicted of a series of felonies related to illegal use of campaign funds.

Moore also did work for Norman on several of his elections while he was a state assembly member, according to state finance records.

“The board requested documents to show that work was performed in return for certain payments made by the campaign and the campaign failed to do so,” said Friedman.

According to James’ 2005 expenditure report, Moore was her campaign manager and he and/or VCS was paid a total of $74,500 for services rendered, of which $17,550 went toward field operations.

James’ attorney Laurence Laufer said the CFB was provided with the documentation that Moore provided to the campaign committee office.

“The CFB wasn’t satisfied with those records and we chose not to contest the penalty. The committee wanted to have closure and not prolong this matter by disputing the violation allegation,” said Laufer.

Moore concurred that he provided the paperwork, and on the advice of Laufer, let the matter go.

Although characterized by many political pundits as being a fierce independent fighter for her beliefs, James is far from a political outsider.

She got her political start under the tutelage of longtime Assemblymember and current City Councilmember Al Vann, and later served as Chief of Staff for former Assemblymember Roger Green.

One longtime political operative in Central Brooklyn recalled that James cut her political teeth and earned Norman’s loyalty as an election attorney specializing in getting insurgent Democratic candidates kicked off the ballot.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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