Monday, December 8, 2008

Campaign Work a Rich Side Biz by Robert Gearty, Benjamin Lesser and Greg B. Smith - NY Daily News

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In next year's City Council election, Eric Ulrich, a part-time board employee, has raised $1,405 this year from his fellow board employees.

He has also indulged in another board specialty - working for campaigns on the side.

This fall, the Queens Republican ran GOP candidate Tony Nunziato's bid for a City Council seat and received $900 in "wages" from Thomas Ognibene for his Council run.

Records show board employees are often paid by campaigns. Take Pamela Perkins, the board's $125,646-a-year administrative manager.

In 2005, she got $2,000 from her husband, state Sen. Bill Perkins, during his failed run for Manhattan borough president. In 2006 and 2007, she got three more payments totaling $1,833.53 from his campaigns.

Meanwhile, Parnell Sena got $269 a week ($2,419) for nine weeks from July through mid-September 2005 from Sen. Perkins. Days after the payments stopped, Sena got a $27,111-a-year job as clerk to the board.

Besides coughing up campaign checks or working for campaigns, multiple board employees work for the political parties, records and interviews reveal. The city charter separates politics from public service by barring city officials from holding party positions such as district leaders.

Not so at the city Board of Elections.

The Conflicts of Interest Board has ruled that board employees can run for party positions, and a review of records found at least 30 current employees are either Democratic or Republican district leaders.

That includes Commissioners Gregory Soumas, a Manhattan Democrat, and Juan Carlos Polanco, a Bronx Republican. Both work full time, Soumas as a lawyer and Polanco as $115,541-a-year Assembly employee for the GOP minority. (In contrast, the state board of elections bars its commissioners from public employment).