Meng raises most funds in Assembly race

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Jimmy Meng, the former head of the Flushing Chinese Business Association and manager of the Queens Lumber Company, has raised the most funds of any candidates vying for Flushing’s new assembly seat.

Through July, Democrat Meng had raised $198,950, according to a filing report due to the state Board of Elections by Aug. 9 in the latest round of paperwork.

The money put him well ahead of fellow Democrats Barry Grodenchik and Ethel Chen. Grodenchik had attracted $66,103 in funds, while Chen had raised $96,687.51, although Chen thought there was an accounting error in her reports.

Democrat John Albert and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou had not filed their latest campaign report with the Board of Elections in time to be available to the public this week.

In an earlier filing due July 15, Albert had reported raising $20,999.95, while Chou had raised $180.

Albert said he had filed the necessary paperwork last weekend and had raised a total of about $27,000.

Republican Meilin Tan had not filed any reports with the Board of Elections as of press time.

Candidates are required to give their finance information to the Board of Elections if they raise more than $1,000.

Many of Meng’s corporate donations come from construction groups, such as Flushing-based New Millennium Construction and Development Corp., and supermarkets, such as A & C Supermarket Inc. on Kissena Boulevard.

Several of his corporate donations are at $5,000, the maximum allowed under election law.

If he loses the Sept. 10, Meng will have to return parts of his larger donations, according to Lee Daghlian, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections.

Election law also stipulates that candidates are allowed to accept a maximum of $3,100 for both the primary and the general election. Thus, if Meng does not win the Democratic nomination, he will have to return money so that none of his donations top out over $3,100, Daghlian said.

Despite the support of many businesses, Meng was quick to point out that $120,750 of his funds came from donations from individuals or partnerships.

“It’s not only the business,” Meng said. “All of the community recognizes what I have done.”

Grodenchik, who has the backing of the Democratic Party, has raised money through his political ties. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, for whom Grodenchik works as a political aide, former Public Advocate Mark Green and Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) are among Grodenchik’s contributors.

Grodenchik has received funds from the campaigns of fellow Democrats, including state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows), Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) and Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

In addition, Grodenchik has earned the support of several unions, obtaining $3,100 from SEIU 1199, the most powerful health and hospital workers union in the city.

Grodenchik also got a $2,500 contribution from the Muss Development Co., the Forest Hills developer that owns property in downtown Flushing.

From July 15 to Aug. 9, the Grodenchik campaign raised $5,208, significantly less than Meng and Chen during the same time period.

But Evan Stavisky, Grodenchik’s political consultant, said he was not worried about the candidate’s finances.

“We’re confident that Barry Grodenchik will raise in the neighborhood of $100,000 over the course of the election,” he said.

Chinese associations, graphic and computer companies were among Ethel Chen’s leading contributors.

Chen’s largest contributor, however, was the downtown Flushing business Great Wall Market. Chen received $6,000 from the business, in addition to a $5,000 loan.

Chen said Great Wall funded her because she is a friend of its owner.

“I’m lucky this time. I got a few business people,” Chen said.

Chen’s report may contain an accounting error, according to Chen.

Her July report has an opening balance of $13,769.49. The report does not indicate where the money came from.

“Chances are we’ll give [Chen] a call to give us some paperwork to show us where that money came from,” Daghlian said. “It doesn’t particularly worry me. These sort of things happen.”

Chen, who said she had some problems filing the information, was surprised to find out the opening balance existed at all.

“That must be a mistake,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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