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Gresser, Marshall collect campaign matching funds

The city Campaign Finance Board last Thursday dolled out the second round of checks to candidates participating in the matching funds program, and the two Democratic candidates for Queens borough president as well as 12 city council candidates in the county were the lucky beneficiaries.

City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) and Douglaston resident Carol Gresser, the former Board of Education president, each was given more than $400,000 in matching funds that had been denied to them the previous week. The third Democrat, City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), received matching funds on Aug. 6.

Of the 55 Queens candidates who face a primary in the race for one of the borough’s 14 city council seats, 12 more hopefuls qualified for payments on Aug. 16 when the Campaign Finance Board handed out the second series of funds to those who met the program’s criteria. With the additional qualifiers, more than 67 percent of Queens council candidates have received money from the city.

The Campaign Finance Board said some of the reasons a candidate might not get matching funds are if they are knocked off the ballot, do not meet the fund-raising threshold of $5,000, fail to attract 50 contributors, file their papers later or otherwise are not in compliance with the board’s guidelines.

A candidate is considered non-compliant if he has not returned contributions that exceed the allowable limit, received corporate contributions or has taken contributions from a non-registered political action committee.

Matt Mullarkey, Marshall’s campaign manager, said they were very pleased with the $441,316 her campaign received in public funds. He said that the week’s delay — the first round of funds was handed out on Aug. 6 — did not have an effect on her race.

Marshall’s matching funds were held up because of compliance issues, according to the Campaign Finance Board.

“I think for us it was political committees and PACs,” Mullarkey said. “We received a couple of small checks and gave the money back.”

He said some of the PACs had not registered or registered in time with the Campaign Finance Board. Mullarkey said a portion of the contributions came from state legislators who do not have dealings with the board and did not know they needed to register.

“It helps,” Anat Jacobson, Gresser’s campaign manager, said of the money. “We have been right on track with spending and fund raising. We expect to do everything we planned to do.”

She said the delay in getting the $415,808 did not hinder her campaign. The money was held back because the board could not read one of her campaign filing disks.

Jacobson said the money matter has been cleared up and should not be a problem in the future. Part of Gresser’s money will go to pay back a $100,000 loan she received from her husband to aid her campaign.

City Councilman Alfonso Stabile (R-Ozone Park) does not have an opponent in the Republican primary so he does not receive matching funds.

All 14 of the borough’s city council seats are up for grabs because term limits have prevented Queens’ incumbents from seeking re-election. Initially 100 Queens residents had signed up for the program, the most in the five boroughs, but through challenges to their campaign, lack of funds or lack of support, only 73 council candidates from the borough are still participating in the matching fund program.

The 12 new candidates receiving funds are Anthony Andrews in District 28, Arthur Cheliotes in District 19, Leroy Comrie in District 27, Paul Graziano in District 20, Charlotte Jefferson in District 31, Garth Marchant in District 28, Hiram Monserrate in District 21, Patrick O’Malley in District 26, Terence Park in District 20, Lynn Schulman in District 29, Helen Sears in District 25 and Lew Simon in District 32.

Any candidate who wanted to receive $4 for every $1 raised under the matching funds program 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.

The program was also designed to lessen the influence of campaign contributors on the candidates, level the playing field and make the information on the candidates’ finances more accessible.

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

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