Christine Quinn’s ‘slush fund’ legal troubles under scrutiny

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn speaking at the announcement of the FY14 budget. Credit: nyc.gov
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn speaking at the announcement of the FY14 budget. Credit: nyc.gov

Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign is calling on opposing mayoral candidate City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to release legal documents from a federal investigation into the City Council around five years ago.

The slush fund scandal was revealed in news reports in 2008 alleging city funds were being allocated to nonexistent “phony charities” and then rerouted to groups favored by City Council members to curry political support. The speaker was accused of using the budget to reward allies and punish opponents.

A federal investigation into the City Council entailed a taxpayer-funded legal defense and Thompson’s campaign said some accounts tallied the legal cost at over $500,000 in city funds to defend the council.

The issue of taxpayer-funded defense of political officials under investigation has been a recurring one recently, particularly in the State Assembly, where Speaker Sheldon Silver has come under criticism for using taxpayer funds to defend himself and the Assembly against female staffers accusing him and the Assembly at large of facilitating their alleged sexual harassment by Vito Lopez. The staffers say that if Silver had not used taxpayer money to provide a settlement to two earlier accusers, and instead referred the sexual harassment allegation to the Ethics Committee, Lopez would not have been able to victimize other staffers after those early reports.

Quinn is apparently refusing to release records involved in the federal investigation, so the Thompson campaign has started an online petition urging New Yorkers to join them in calling for the documents to be released.

The Thompson campaign provided emails sent following up on a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request submitted in April of this year. They were apparently told they would receive a response on July 12 but as of July 15 they were told documents were still being “actively compiled.”

Thompson campaign said “hundreds” of people have signed their petition. They are now also highlighting political donations Quinn’s campaign received from the law firm paid to review documents and defend the Council five years ago.

The Quinn campaign accused Thompson of using the FOIL request to divert attention from a recent report that called into question his own record.

“This is a transparent attempt by Bill Thompson to avoid addressing a damning report yesterday that uncovered he was warned by the inspector general to stop using funds from the Battery Park City Authority to dole out favors to campaign contributors,” said Quinn spokesman Mike Morey.

According to Morey, Thompson “continued to do so anyway.”

“Instead of attacking his opponent in this race, he should disclose why he gave out this money against the advice of the inspector general,” Morey suggested.

Morey also noted that Quinn “disclosed everything five years ago.”

The Post noted in April, ahead of the Thompson campaign’s FOIL request, that Quinn had been cleared of all wrongdoing, though the investigation into the Council at large continues and defense is still being funded by taxpayer money. A council source reportedly told the New York Post money was spent on the trial of former Councilman Larry Seabrook, who was sentenced in January to five years in prison for stealing taxpayer money.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…