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Marshall, Gresser wait for matching funds

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In the hotly contested race for Queens borough president, City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) was given a boost when he was the only candidate to receive his campaign matching funds check from the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

Leffler received $296,084 from the program, while his opponents in the Democratic primary — former Board of Education President Carol Gresser and City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) had their checks held during the first round of payouts. The only Republican candidate — Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park) — had his funds held because he does not have a primary race.

The city is giving each candidate $4 for every $1 in contributions, within a set of restrictions. CFB spokesman Frank Barry said Gresser’s money was held because she had to resubmit her filing and it could not be processed in time. Marshall did not get the funds because of questions about her compliance with the matching procedures.

Gresser, who has raised $120,374 eligible for matching funds, was expected to get $481,496. Marshall was expecting to receive $481,850 in matching funds from the $120,395 she has raised.

The Campaign Finance Board would not discuss its questions over Marshall’s compliance with the guidelines, but some issues that can block payment to a candidate are not returning over-the-limit contributions, receiving corporate contributions or receiving contributions from a non registered political action committee.

The infusion of money in Leffler’s campaign gives him a slight head start as the race moves into last four weeks before the Sept. 11 primary.

The two other Democratic candidates could get their checks as early as Thursday when the board meets again to determine if they have met the criteria outlined in the campaign finance laws. If Gresser and Marshall do not receive funding, they will have to wait until Aug. 31 or Sept. 7. But Barry said there might be interim payments.

“We had a technical issue that we resolved last week,” said Anat Jacobson, Gresser’s campaign manager. “According to the Campaign Finance Board, there are no outstanding issues and we should be getting the money on Thursday [Aug. 16].”

She said the delay has not hurt them because they had enough funds in the bank.

Last month Gresser took a $100,000 loan from her husband for her campaign.

“We are expecting to get the money Thursday,” said Matt Mullarkey, Marshall’s campaign manager. “They are telling us everything is fine.”

He said the campaign answered all of the board’s questions and the week’s delay had no effect on Marshall’s campaign because she had plenty of money.

“We are very pleased the Leffler campaign was in compliance and will continue without the interruption that the other campaigns may be experiencing due to their inability to comply with the Campaign Finance Board’s requirements in a timely manner,” said Ron Basci, Leffler’s campaign manager.

Any candidate who wanted to receive the $4-to-$1 campaign matching funds had to file his or her paperwork with the Campaign Finance Board by June 1. The city will match contributions up to $250 from city residents. This means that for a $250 contribution a candidate will receive $1,000 from the city.

Campaign Finance Board officials said the goal of the program was to level the playing field by giving all candidates access to a certain amount of money and making officials “more responsive” to city residents rather than special interest groups.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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