In the race to replace disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm, the Republican candidate has collected nearly as much money from political action committees as his opponent has gotten from anybody.
As of April 15, outside political and business groups cut Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan checks totaling $193,700 — just $2,000 shy of the $195,739 total raised by Councilman Vincent “Vinnie” Gentile from all sources.
Gentile’s camp questioned whether Donovan can serve constituents in Brooklyn and Staten Island with so much of his funding coming from outside the district, but Donovan’s side points to the nearly half a million dollars that individual voters gave the campaign as proof that the little guy supports the Staten Island district attorney’s bid as well as outside groups.
“Our filing will reflect that we are proudly not relying on shadowy corporate donors, super PACs, or people like the Koch Brothers to get our message out to the people of New York’s 11th congressional district,” said Gentile spokesman Justin Brannan.
The biggest gifts to Donovan’s campaign came in the form of $10,000 checks from the National Association of Realtors and The Freedom Project, a political group with ties to Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Boehner’s campaign committee also handed Donovan $4,000, and Brannan suggested the donation would make it tough for Donovan to defy the powerful Republican in Congress.
But the lion’s share of Donovan’s receipts, which totaled $614,875, came from individual voters, signalling wide support for the candidate, his spokeswoman said.
“Those donations are even more meaningful because they are from people who probably can’t afford to give much, but they are invested in our campaign,” said spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “We’re proud to have received such an outpouring of support from so many people who want to see Dan as their next congressman.”
Gentile received just $45,900 from unions and political groups. Major donors included health care workers union 1199SEIU, Empire PAC with ties to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Sen. Charles Schumer-affiliated group IMPACT — each handing Gentile $5,000.
Several local politicians also kicked cashfor Gentile. He took money from Borough President Adams, former beep Marty Markowitz, State Sen. Diane Savino (D–Bay Ridge), councilmen Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and David Greenfield (D–Borough Park), and Queens council members Margaret Chin, Peter Koo, and Paul Vallone — all of whom donated $1,000 or less.
No local elected officials donated to Donovan, but 2013 mayoral also-rans Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis each gave the attorney $2,700 — the maximum for an individual contribution.
Former Rep. Vito Fossella, who did not seek reelection after an extra-marital affair made national headlines, gave Donovan $400.
The special election is May 5.