US Midterms: Zeldin's NY Campaign Investigated Over Super PACs

New York's top election watchdog is reportedly investigating the campaign of Rep. Lee Zeldin, the GOP nominee for governor, regarding potential violations of state law by coordinating with a pair of "super PACs" (political action committees).

US Midterms: Zeldin's NY Campaign Investigated Over Super PACs
Image credit: Times Union

Facts

  • New York's top election watchdog is reportedly investigating the campaign of Rep. Lee Zeldin, the GOP nominee for governor, regarding potential violations of state law by coordinating with a pair of "super PACs" (political action committees).
  • Michael L. Johnson, the chief enforcement counsel at the NY State Board of Elections, asked the board to grant him expansive subpoena authority to elicit cooperation from the campaign and the groups, Save Our State Inc. and Safe Together New York.
  • The investigation was spurred when Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul raised the issue with the Times Union of Albany on Oct. 4. She alleged that one donor provided $5M over a couple of weeks in "dark money" to "run a negative campaign" against her.
  • The report claimed conservative billionaire Ronald Lauder donated $100K to his outside elections spending group, Safe Together New York, with the company's political consultant, John McLaughlin, later receiving $100K from Safe Together for work on a radio ad criticizing Hochul.
  • The investigation comes as Zeldin, a conservative four-term representative from Long Island, appears to be quickly gaining ground in polling.
  • Zeldin may also face other legal challenges. Democrats filed a separate complaint on Tuesday against the Republican Governors Association, arguing that the $1.2M it had directed to Save Our State broke New York law.

Sources: Political Wire, New York Times, and Times Union.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by The New York Times. Zeldin and his supporters are pushing their luck by spending money on his campaign in nefarious ways. New York is one of the few states in the union that has banned "coordination" among funders, and Zeldin's conservative supporters seem to have violated this statute. Though Republicans are saying that the Elections Board is biased against Zeldin, there is little basis for this accusation.
  • Republican narrative, as provided by Fox News. Self-proclaimed "objective" publications like The New York Times and Times Union have decided to openly intervene in a governor's race. They're pulling out every tactic to smear Zeldin, but fortunately, media meddlers don't get to decide who will be governor of New York. Zeldin could pull off a stunning upset as voters are concerned about crime and the economy.