By Arthur Z. Schwartz
Everyone who reads WestView knows that Deborah Glick and I have some profound disagreements about policy, going back to my support for reconstructing Bleecker Playground, and her opposition to that project, and my support for building Hudson River Park and her vote against it. Folks also know that I was critical of how cozy Deborah was with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a coziness which saw her as his last defender against moves to oust him after he was indicted. The Silver episode made me wonder how Deborah fit into the scheme of money and politics in Albany.
Then on October 21, The New York Times ran an article about the lucrative business of internet sports betting and this paragraph caught my eye:
“This shadowy exchange in June 2012 was remarkable for two reasons: The bag contained $350,000 in cash, proceeds from an illegal Internet gambling ring; and the woman who took it was a New York real estate developer and prominent gay rights activist who has donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to political candidates and causes. The previous month, the same woman—Joy Tomchin—accepted another bag with $335,000 in cash.…
In both cases, Ms. Tomchin said she had taken the cash on behalf of her brother, Stanley, who prosecutors say helped run the kind of gambling operation that has proved so difficult to stop…”
The name of the “bag woman” caught my eye: she has, over the years, been the Number 1 contributor to Deborah Glick’s campaign account, $2000 last year and over $10,000 since 2007. I waited to see if Deborah would issue a statement, distancing herself from this dirty money (Stanley Tomchin wound up getting indicted), or whether she would react like she did with Silver: “I must presume that the Tomchins are innocent, and see no need, until someone is convicted, of returning the money.” So far nothing from our Assembly Member.
I decided, however, to look at Deborah Glick’s campaign account (something anyone can do by going to the NY State Board of Elections web site, and clicking on Campaign Finance). I found something even more interesting. Deborah is Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. Besides failing to wield whatever power she has to slow down NYU, one would think that she just oversees colleges and universities—institutions that charge too much, and stiff their employees, from senior faculty to data entry clerks. But she has another job. Her committee is in charge of the licensing operations at the State Education Department: doctors, accountants, psychologists etc. Laws concerning those professions must pass through Ms. Glick’s committee
What I found extremely interesting was that Deborah had held a fundraising event of some sort on May 11, 2015. On that date, no fewer than eight associations of professionals she oversees pumped $7200 into Deborah’s campaign account, including $2500 from the Committee for Medical Eye Care, and $2000 from Ortho PAC. In 2014 those profession-related PACs gave her a cool $18,100! The people her committee is supposed to police pump her campaign account full of money.
And Deborah hasn’t spent more than $2500 on a campaign, in total, for the last 20 years!
So then I looked to see what she spends this money on. For many years she spent it to help other candidates running for office, and to make small contributions to various political dinners, all the while keeping her total fund up around $100,000. That’s money she can keep when she retires. But over the last 10 months the balance has declined.
All of a sudden Assembly Member Glick is using her campaign funds to pay unusually large Amex bills, and when the campaign finance report asks for the purpose, she (improperly in my opinion) writes “other” offering no detail. How much are we talking about? Here are the numbers through the end of June for 2015:
$1270 in January;
$668 in March;
$1495 in April;
$1151 in May;
$1354 in June
Nearly $6000 in unexplained Amex payments over a six-month period. So the money comes in from Joy Tomchin, and the professional association PACs, and goes out through Deborah Glick’s Amex card, to pay for ??
I, for one, would like some answers. I would like to know whether Deborah Glick will return what might be internet gambling proceeds to Joy Tomchin, so as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I would like to know why the Assembly Member takes money from the professional groups whose licenses her committee is supposed to oversee. Now that we all know, will she return that money? And finally, I would like to know what her $1000 plus Amex bills are about, and how much of the professional PAC money is finding its way into perks for the Assembly member?
Again, Assembly Member Glick, I invite you to respond right here in WestView.
Arthur Z. Schwartz is the Male Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village, and is considering a run for Assembly against Deborah Glick. The opinions in this article are those of Arthur Schwartz and in no way reflect the opinions of the of WestView News.