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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Questions Raised About Espada's Campaign Staff

Last week, the BoogieDowner blog posted a list of employees who are on the payroll of Pedro Espada, Jr., eliciting a pretty good discussion in the comments section about the Senator’s rather large staff of 39 people.

The State Senate website posts a payroll list every two weeks; you can download it here and search for representatives by name. Espada's staff largely outnumbers most other reps -- Senator Jose M. Serrano, for example, employs just seven people, and even Espada’s buddy Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., has a staff of eleven. (Espada's doubled his staff since becoming Majority Leader last year, and told us in March through a spokesman that the new hires are necessary to help fulfill his role as leader, and as a member of various Senate committees.)

One commenter on BoogieDowner noted that a number of Espada's State-employed staffers were also listed on his campaign website--www.voteespada.com--as members of his campaign staff. These names were then, curiously, removed from the site just a few days later.

A savvy reader e-mail pointed out that you can still see the old version of the website through Google cached pages (Google takes backup snapshots of websites, which you can see by clicking the "cached" link that comes up under the site on a Google search). Here's a version of the site before it was changed, and here's what that staff page looks like now.

Espada's campaign staff has yet to reply to an e-mail inquiring about why the names were removed.

By our comparison, 10 of the eleven names that were listed as "staff" on the campaign site were also on the State's payroll list as regular Espada workers. (The one exception being Pedro Gautier Espada, Espada's son, whose title is "campaign manager.")

There's nothing necessarily illegal or improper about having staff members double as campaign workers, though, as long as they're doing that work off the State time clock.

"If you have somebody on your public payroll, and if they're doing work on the weekend for you, you can compensate them for that," said Jon Conklin, the public information officer at the State Board of Elections.

Election law does not regulate how candidates use staff members or for what purpose, Conklin said. If staff members were campaigning on the public dime, it would fall to the Attorney General's Office to investigate.

In the civil lawsuit that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo brought against Espada in April, the Senator was accused of having employees from his Soundview health clinics illegally work on his campaigns while they were being paid by the clinics.


  1. Over the last week, my household has received 10 seperate mailings from the State Senator- billed as newsletters and informational updates on Espada's work for the district (5 for each registered voter in our household). These mailings are not campaign materials and are paid for by the NYS Senate (aka taxpayer dollars). Is there any limit to the amount a candidate can spend on informational mailings to consituents? Are there any restrictions on these kinds of mailings during a re-election campaign?

  2. I have received numerous flyers and brochures as well. I must admit, it is annoying at times. But the way I see it is that he holds a very influential position and therefore is allocated certain resources. I have my reservations about Senatr Espada however, I really have no idea who Gustavo Riviera is. And I don't go along with the flow just because other elected officials endorse any particular candidate. I live here for almost 31 years and I think that sometimes is better to go with the one you know versus a complete stranger... we'll see how this plays out but Senator Espada is and will be very tough to beat...plus he's out giving fruits and vegetables and school supplies, all of which come in handy for those who are in desperate need of SOME help...

  3. Bronx News Network, please investigate the Senate paid mailings. Is this not illegal?

    Also, Espada is holding a campaign event in a school. I know that can't be legal.

  4. To Loressa... you can find out about the candidates on BronxTalk on August 30 in a live televised debate on channel 67 that begins at 9pm. This way you can make a more informed choice.


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