City Council Watch
July 26, 2013
There was never any intention to turn this blog into a constant revelation of the misdeeds of CD 3 candidate Corey Johnson's campaign. But as Nixon showed us, when you try to cover things up, you usually make things worse for yourself. So don't blame us when it is Corey Johnson cutting off the Hydra heads of his own corruption.
Last month, City Council Watch began looking into Corey Johnson's actual work history, which was not given in any detail in his campaign material. We found a fairly extensive resume on the website of the LGBT Center, where Johnson had participated on a panel in 2011. The bio discussed Johnson's work for real estate developer GFI.
We called the Johnson campaign and asked a few questions about GFI. When we returned to the Gay Center website, we found that Corey Johnson's bio had been removed entirely, though there was a cached version available. See here and here for comparison's sake.
The Gay Center is a non-profit that receives City funds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, and by law is forbidden to do any political work on behalf of an electoral campaign. We wondered about how the scrubbing of Johnson's bio was authorized, so we called Mary Steyer, the Director of Communication for the Center and asked her about it.
Mary Steyer, who could not be more helpful, looked into the matter and called us back. "I investigated the issue and have an answer," she announced cheerfully. "Corey Johnson called the webmaster and asked him to remove the bio."
Mary Steyer was puzzled when we suggested that helping a prominent candidate for office bury information about himself might not be in the mission statement of a major non-profit organization, and didn't see what the issue was. "He said the info was outdated, and it didn't strike us as odd."
(Let me point out that the Gay Center, on 13th Street, is in the 3rd Council District, where Corey Johnson is running. The Center receives major allocations from Corey Johnson's advocate Speaker Christine Quinn. It was until recently headed by Mario Palumbo, Jr., a Johnson contributor and partner at Millennium Partners, a highly-connected real estate development firm. The Gay Center is a large and politically-connected non-profit group in the middle of the West Village. I imagine someone on the staff there must have an idea about what constitutes best practices when it comes to dealing with political campaigns.)
On the other hand, as we have said before, we aren't campaign law experts. Maybe one of you is.