Thursday, November 6, 2008

Larry Seabrook

Pig at the trough

Daily News Editorial, Monday, October 15th 2007

Hey, boys and girls! Want a new computer? Robocaller? Custom-made office chair? Run for election. With no real opponent. Your role model can be Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook, who has managed to soak the taxpayers thanks to New York City's overly generous public campaign finance system.

Seabrook ran essentially unopposed for reelection in 2005. He should have qualified for not cent-one in public matching dollars, but he got $71,000 after swearing he had a foe requiring a fight. He did not. He was a shoo-in.

No matter. The campaign finance system handsomely filled Seabrook's bank account. And he trounced his opponent, who spent nothing, 7 to 1.

But not wanting to end up with an account surplus and having to return any unspent matching funds, Seabrook went on a buying spree.

An audit of Seabrook's accounts by the Campaign Finance Board found $18,809 in noncampaign-related purchases, including a robocaller automated telephone calling machine, computer, monitors, camcorder, telephones, Xerox, fax, supplies and custom-made furniture.

Seabrook ran his race out of his Democratic clubhouse, and he bought some of the gear just a day before the election - more evidence that he was socking the taxpayer with costs that were in no way vital to his victory.

But Seabrook defended his spree and the board, astonishingly, reduced its finding to $9,782 in noncampaign-related expenditures. For his blatant abuse of campaign funds, the board issued Seabrook a $500 fine. Five-hundred paltry dollars.

Plus, Seabrook gets to keep the robocaller, computer, monitors, camcorder, telephones, Xerox, fax, supplies and custom-made furniture. That'll teach him. Don't you think?

The board sent a terrible message to the city's political class by barely slapping Seabrook's wrist. The message is that pols can stiff the taxpayer without fear of consequences.

The board needs a spine and a new rule that campaign equipment remains the property of the campaign and cannot be used for other purposes or campaigns. Should a campaign sell the equipment, the money should go toward refunding the matching funds. Call it the Seabrook rule.

1 comment:

Kira said...

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