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Harris’s non-profit haunts her

Brooklyn Daily
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Assemblywoman Pam Harris (D–Coney Island) will stop letting a non-profit she founded operate out of her home — to distance herself from an apparent conflict of interest, she told this paper. The freshman assemblywoman raised eyebrows among government watchdogs after a New York Post article suggesting she had a too-cozy relationship with Coney Island Generation Gap, a largely government-funded youth organization she founded before winning office in November and which still operates out of her Coney Island home.

Harris told this paper she has not collected any rent from the group since her election and said it will move offices in September.

“While CIGG has its office in the basement of my house, I receive no rent or compensation of any kind — and have not received any since being elected,” she said. “This September, CIGG will move out of my house and locate its office elsewhere. I care deeply about the children we’ve helped, and while I terminated my active involvement in the group, CIGG needed time to re-locate to ensure a successful transition to a new location in order to not jeopardize their work.”

Harris told us she has totally severed ties with the organization and is even refusing political donations from the non-profit’s employees.

But records show the group’s new executive director Rocco Brescia gave $100 to Harris’s re-election fund in January 2016.

Harris pledged to return the money after we brought the donation to her attention.

“I apologize for overlooking this and did not mean to misguide anyone in any way. I am committed to remaining completely transparent and open and will thus be refunding the contribution in full,” she said.

The non-profit has played a more visible role in her reelection bid, too — photos shared with this paper show supporters collecting signatures for Harris’s reelection in the middle of a block party that Coney Island Generation Gap hosted in front of Harris’s house over the July 4 weekend.

The Internal Revenue Service prohibits tax-exempt organizations such as the Coney Island Generation Gap “from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign.”

Harris goes up against challenger Kate Cucco in the Democratic primary on Sept. 13.

• • •

Brooklyn Democratic party boss Frank Seddio will face a challenger for district leader in the 59th Assembly District, according to a party e-mail shared with this paper.

Rumor has it pastor Nicholson Pierre will throw his hat in the ring against Seddio, but he could not be reached to comment, and Seddio declined.

Our tipster tells us that Canarsie community leader Mercedes Narcisse, who is challenging state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie), is encouraging her friend Pierre to run against the party boss. Narcisse herself is challenging Seddio’s female counterpart, Roberta Sherman, for the unpaid, low-level position of district leader in the 59th.

Narcisse challenged one of Seddio’s buddies, Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), for his seat in 2013, and some see her bid against Persaud as part of a larger power struggle over the soul of the county machine.

But Narcisse denied there is a coup brewing, saying she “cannot run someone against” Sedido, with whom she gets along.

“I don’t have anything against Frank Seddio, I’ve know him for a long time,” Narcisse said.

Pierre is reportedly also challenging newly minted Assemblywoman Jaime Williams (D–Canarsie) — another friend of the county machine.

• • •

A Brooklyn judge has yet to decide the next Kings County Republican Party chairman — two factions vying for control of the party took one another to court over last year’s fraught election — but hopeful Ted Ghorra is already calling the contest for himself.

When this paper reached out to state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) for a comment on an unrelated story, Ghorra responded as a spokesman for Golden and declared himself “the presumptive Kings County chairman.”

Last year, Ghorra and rival Arnaldo Ferraro called separate meetings of the county committee — each claiming to be the head of the Republican machine.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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