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Campaign Finance Board Penalizes Three Councilmembers

Friday, August 12, 2011

The City's Campaign Finance Board has levied penalties against three members of the City Council for campaign finance violations dating back to 2009.

Councilwomen Helen Foster of the Bronx was hit with more than $3,500 dollars in penalties for violations that included improper post-election spending. Councilman James Gennaro of Queens was fined $1,800 for three violations, including taking money from an unregistered political action committee. Councilwoman Margaret Chin of lower Manhattan was fined $600 dollars for three violations, including failure to provide bank records.

Kelly Magee, a spokeswoman for Councilwoman Chin, said one consultant had failed to fill out a required form despite being directed to do so  by the campaign. Chin opted to pay the fine. She received more than $110,000 in public campaign financing.

Magee said the Councilwoman was proud of her grass roots campaign. "We had the most unique donors out of any candidate and one of the lowest average donations," wrote Magee.

Councilman Gennaro told WNYC his campaign finance staff mistakes were related to putting a few campaign checks under the wrong accounting category.

"This routine stuff. We took in a lot of checks," Gennaro said in a phone interview. He said his campaign was now in full compliance and that he anticpated paying the fine. Gennaro opted out of receiving  public funds.

Councilwoman Foster's office did not return a call for comment.

So far the New York City Campaign Finance Board has cited 30 campaigns for violations for the 2009 election.

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