By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — Robocalls from Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat kicked off this weekend on the heels of reports that he had used his political influence to secure positions for friends and family at a nonprofit that operates largely on grant money secured by his office.
The nonprofit, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Economic Development, has employed Espaillat’s sister-in-law, the Democratic district leader in the assemblyman's neighborhood and multiple political consultants who had worked on Espaillat’s previous campaigns, the New York Post reported.
The approximately 30-second robo-message that went out this weekend featured the assemblyman defending himself against the claims of impropriety and speaking about his “record reforming Albany.”
“You will hear false rumors spread about our work, because our opponents have no record,” the message said about his rivals in the race for the 31st State Senate District, a seat currently occupied by state attorney general candidate Sen. Eric Schneiderman.
Espaillat's primary competition, Mark Levine, called on State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo last week to investigate the allegations.
Scott Levenson, a spokesman for the Levine campaign, stressed today that Levine is not accusing the assemblyman of wrongdoing, but would like to see the matter investigated.
“What I think of the robocalls is that the attorney general needs to determine whether everything that the assemblyman has been involved in has been conducted appropriately,” Levenson said. “If you read the allegations in last week’s New York Post, it raises questions, and all we are saying is that they need to be answered.”
Espaillat’s campaign office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the accusations against him.