Saying it doesn’t want to see another disgraced pol like Hiram Monserrate score big bucks off taxpayers while running for office, the city’s Campaign Finance Board is backing legislation that would prohibit candidates convicted of public corruption felonies from qualifying for public matching funds.
Amy Loprest, the CFB’s executive director, told the City Council’s government operations committee on Thursday that the board supports the bill sponsored by Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx).
Although Loprest never specifically mentioned Monserrate by name, she vividly detailed how the Queens Democrat – despite his criminal past – “met the threshold” to secure $87,218 in taxpayer funds through the 6-to-1 public matching system for a failed 2017 bid to win back his old council seat.
“Ensuring that individuals with a track record of fraud do not receive public funds is not only good public policy but is fundamental to the integrity of the matching-funds program,” Loprest testified during a public hearing.
She also suggested the Council strengthen the legislation to “cover misdemeanors related to corruption, particularly in connection with government funds, as candidates tend to plead to misdemeanors to avoid a felony conviction.”
Monserrate was expelled from the state Senate by his colleagues in 2010 after being found guilty of a misdemeanor for slashing his girlfriend with a broken glass during a fight in December 2008.
In 2012, Monserrate pleaded guilty to felony mail fraud and conspiracy charges after being caught stealing $109,000 in city funds from 2006 to 2007 when he was a council member representing Flushing, Corona and other nearby parts of Queens.
CFB officials also said they believe Cabrera’s bill would hold up against any legal challenge, adding Connecticut already has a similar policy in place preventing convicted felons from receiving public money to campaign for state office.
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