Two Assembly hopefuls vying for a long-held Brooklyn Heights seat ganged up on their shared opponent at their first debate on Monday, claiming he’s abusing campaign finance loopholes.
Female Democratic district leader Jo Anne Simon and dark-horse candidate and building superintendent Doug Biviano used the 52nd district candidates forum hosted by NY1 to bash their foe, union lobbyist Pete Sikora. The three are seeking the seat that is being vacated by Assemblywoman Joan Millman after 17 years. Simon charged that Sikora poured money into the left-wing Working Families Party for it to spend on his campaign in order to avoid having to disclose what the money is going towards.
“Please explain to the voters how it is that you are exploiting every campaign loophole and failing to disclose your expenses. And those of independent expenditures,” Simon said to Sikora. “In fact you gave $22,960 to the Working Families Party and didn’t disclose what it was for, nor did they disclose what they’re using it for.”
Sikora answered that the party would disclose how it spent the money in time for a Friday deadline.
“Parties report their expenditures when the bill is paid,” he said. “This is governed by state law and the state Board of Elections.”
“I’ve instructed them to disclose everything,” he added.
Biviano’s presence at the debate was a question mark until shortly before it was held. Inside City Hall host Errol Louis explained at the start of the debate that Biviano had initially been left off the bill because he had not made any campaign filings.
“It was a late campaign, but that’s not important,” Biviano said.
Biviano told show producers he has spent less than $1,000, but that he will prevail on the strength of his message. In his comments, Biviano focused on what he says is the outsize role consulting firms have on the political process, including supposedly improper collusion between Sikora and a firm that Biviano says sent out a mailer on Mayor DeBlasio’s behalf defending the closure of Long Island College Hospital.
Sikora called the claim “really wild, unsupported accusations.”
At one point in the verbal sparring, Louis, the moderator, cut Biviano off as he tried to read from a printed statement. And when Biviano tried to bring up a news story about the Working Families Party, Louis shut him down.
“Doug, you’re not going to do this. I’ll turn off the mic and we’ll send you home,” he said.
All three candidates said they were against the closing of Long Island College Hospital, and that real estate firms have too much say in making decisions about development in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The Democratic primary is on Sept. 9.