Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., who is running for Bronx borough president in an April 21 special election, has decided to forgo public financing from the NYC Campaign Finance Board despite his eligibility, according to a press release issued by Diaz' campaign last night.
"While I support and believe in the City’s campaign finance system, New Yorkers’ best interests must come first. In these tough economic times, especially while confronted with a seemingly non-competitive race for Bronx Borough President, it is my hope that returning these funds to City taxpayers will assist in the retention of jobs and the continuation of vital services," said Diaz, a 7-term assemblyman representing the 85th District. in a press release.
The Daily News, however, suggests that Diaz acted now because their own editorial board indicated they would take him to task if he accepted public money during an economic meltdown, for a race many consider to be a mere formality. The other candidate in the nonpartisan race, Anthony Ribustello, a Republican actor from the County Club neighborhood in the east Bronx, is not well known and has raised virtually no money. The NYC Campaign Finance Board's Web site does not list a single contribution for Ribustello.
We'll have interviews with both in the next issue of the Norwood News.
Update: According to Eric Friedman, spokesman for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, Diaz' was eligible for approximately $220,000 in matching funds. There's a 6-to-1 match (meaning the city kicks in $6 for every $1 raised by the candidate) on the first $87 of each contribution from city residents. "Having turned down payment, he is still eligible to receive funds at a later date; this would not be true if he had taken the funds and returned them," Friedman said in an e-mail. Also, Ribustelo has raised $200 according to the CFB. You can find the totals of the two candidates' fundraising here.