Rockland’s four county executive candidates each leave different trails of cash behind them
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
On January 15, local political candidates made their first fundraising filings of the new year. All eyes were on the county executive race and the haul that the four announced candidates had taken in. An advantage in money doesn’t ensure a victory, but then again, it doesn’t hurt.
The most interesting case in the fundraising season by far is Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte, who seems to have come from nowhere to blow everyone’s daylights out in fundraising. But whatever advantage he had in fundraising, he will have to use that digging out of the hole he dug with his errant spy-text against fellow candidate David Fried.
If he can dig out! LaCorte went from perhaps the favorite in the campaign to a big question mark overnight.
#1 FUNDRAISER — Dagan LaCorte_- $301,900 cash on hand
Subplot: Big donors, Ryan Karben’s footprint, Suffernites, family & friends
As Dagan LaCorte is scrambling to recover from his disastrous spy-text fiasco, he has at least one advantage in his corner: nearly as much money on hand as the other three announced candidates combined. Already, LaCorte has started purchasing advertising space in all local media venues, seeking to broadcast his message and, he hopes, overcome his early campaign problems.
LaCorte’s campaign received over $110,000 in corporate donations, over $218,500 in individual donations and $37,400 from PAC and campaign funds. He also spent over $70,000 in the six-month filing period. LaCorte and wife donated $20,000 to his own campaign, and brought in about $50,000 from supporters in his immediate family. He attracted some prominent large donations like $5,000 from Chestnut Ridge Transportation President John Corr and many businesses in the Suffern area donated to assist their mayor’s ambitions. LaCorte also attracted many companies and individuals from outside Rockland County.
As we have alluded to in past editions of the Rockland County Times, Mayor LaCorte leaves a large Karben-footprint on the political scene, something that is controversial both within the political community and amongst the public at large.
In case you don’t know what Karben-footprint means, one of LaCorte’s main contributors, fundraisers and consultants is former Assemblyman Ryan Karben (D-Ramapo). He’s the same Karben who was forced to resign from the Assembly in 2006 amid rumors of inappropriate conduct with interns. Since then Karben has remained in and out of trouble, including receiving a police escort out of his job as Spring Valley Village Attorney.
However, Karben has extensive contacts in the political world, and has many friends in the Democratic Party. His true influence is hard to gauge, but it’s significant. He was known during his public career as a voracious fundraiser, and he’s helped his longtime friend LaCorte become the same.
In addition to dumping $25,000 into the campaign directly through his own leftover campaign cash from his political days, and through an environmental PAC which lists him as the contact, Karben also helped LaCorte attract some major donors that had helped the former assemblyman in the past.
Longtime Karben supporters Matt Bardach and Richard Grossman gave LaCorte $2,500 and $10,000 respectively. One-time Karben support Robert Book gave LaCorte a whopping $12,500. Karben family members contributed another $1,100.
LaCorte told the Rockland County Times, while he appreciated Karben’s help, he did the vast majority of fundraising through his own efforts and not relying on Karben or anybody else.
LaCorte hired Karben and his company TNT Media to do campaign mailings and strategy for him. LaCorte’s campaign spent over $30,000 on Karben’s TNT company. Karben confirmed he was involved with the company, answering affirmatively with the word “sure” when asked.
The approximate maximum donation the Democratic candidate for county executive can receive for primary is $4,000 and $9,000 for general. There is a formula that derives this number.
Some accusations from competitors have been hurled at LaCorte.
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger had remarked that he believed LaCorte was skirting the law by receiving the maximum donation for primary and general election up front. However, the NYS Board of Elections said this is permitted, so long as LaCorte refunds monies beyond the primary limit if he loses the primary or beyond the general limit if there is no primary.
Schoenberger and Ed Day both said they believed Ryan Karben broke the spirit of election law when he boasted of giving LaCorte $25,000 on Day’s Facebook page. That’s twice what’s allowed for an individual.
However, since Karben provided this money through committees independent of each other, it does not appear this is actually improper.
LaCorte brought in $7,500 from New York State Laborers and $2,500 from Laborer’s Local No. 754. Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn donated $500. He received enough four-figure contributions to make competitor’s heads spin.
Berry Enterprises LLC in Cresskill, NJ gave him $12,500 as did L&L Wealth Partners Management, LLC in Hicksville. Corporations can only donate $5,000 in total campaign donations during a filing period, but LLCs count as individuals.
LaCorte told the Rockland County Times he was fortunate to know a lot of very successful people and he believed he had a good pitch coming at the county fiscal problem as someone who has not held county office.
LaCorte may have to refund $2,500 monies from David’s Check Cashing at 3015 3rd Ave. in the Bronx because records show they were already over their $5,000 donation limit when they donated to him. This is not necessarily the candidate’s fault.
There were two other $2,500 donations to LaCorte from companies at the same 3015 3rd Ave. address.
There do not appear to be any “bloc vote” money bundles being funneled to LaCorte or any of the other candidates at this point.
All disclosures are available on www.elections.ny.gov.
#2 FUNDRAISER — Ilan Schoenberger — $209,293 cash on hand
County workers, fellow politicians, $100,000 loan to self
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger loaned himself $100,000 in his quest to become county executive. He opened with a balance of $48,947 and after the loan and fundraising he got up to $209,293.
His other money comes largely from associates in the legal profession as well as the political community of Rockland County and Rockland County employees. Prominent Democrats like Vince Monte, former chairman, and Nicole Doliner, Clarkstown chairwoman, donated $1,000 and $218 respectively. Schoenberger’s account shows a steady stream of contributions between $100 and $300 from county workers and politicos.
Schoenberger only raised slightly more than $3,000 in corporate monies. PACs, campaign funds, and other miscellaneous revenue streams contributed $6,925.
#3 FUNDRAISER — Ed Day — $104,164 cash on hand
Clarkstown voters and Law Enforcement Unions
As Legislator Ed Day is so far the only Republican candidate in the race, he may be able to save his ducats for the big fight, and skip the primary. In his county executive campaign fund he has $94,164 and another $10,000 in a separate fund that he can transfer if he pleases. Day has been bringing in a stream of individual donations mostly in the $150 range from supporters in his Clarkstown district.
Looking over the disclosures, one thing holding Day’s fundraising back seems to be asking wealthy contributors for too small of donations. Day brought in $12,589 from corporate donations, most of which came from companies in Rockland County. Day, a former cop, has also brought in money from law enforcement unions and clubs.
#4 FUNDRIASER — David Fried — $47,932 cash on hand
Pulling up the rear
Former Spring Valley Justice David Fried has the disadvantage of starting the campaign with no money in his campaign fund. He also was the last candidate to announce. He has raised $34,835 from individuals, $7,625 from corporations, and $7,500 from PACs, campaign funds and other similar sources.
The Spring Valley PBA donated $2,000 to David’s campaign, the Rockland PBA gave $1,000 while Ron Miller of Chestnut Ridge also showed his support with a generous $1,000 donation. The companies gave Fried $1,000 each: Abe’s Custom Construction LLC of Spring Valley, D’Agostino Landscaping, West Nyack and Five Star Interiors Inc., Valley Cottage.
Mark Sheets of Montvale, NJ donated $2,000 to the Fried campaign and Koehler & Isaacs LLP gave $5,000.