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Robert De Niro Pitches in as Election Fundraising Deadline Nears

By Jill Colvin | January 10, 2012 11:30am
Robert DeNiro is is hosting a fundraiser for Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, just ahead of the next filing deadline.
Robert DeNiro is is hosting a fundraiser for Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, just ahead of the next filing deadline.
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Jemal Countess/Getty Images

TRIBECA — Are you stumpin’ for me? Are you stumpin’ for me?

On the eve of the next reporting deadline for city pols, candidates for the 2013 elections are tapping celebrities and hustling to hold big-money fundraisers as they push to raise cash before the Jan. 11 cutoff.

Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin, who is widely believed to be running for borough president, is set to hold a fundraising event Tuesday night co-hosted by another Downtown mover and shaker, actor Robert De Niro.

Candidates for positions including mayor and Manhattan borough president have until the end of Wednesday to stuff their piggy banks with donations, which must officially be reported by Jan. 17. These warchest numbers are often seen as a crucial barometer of a candidate's strength and fundraising prowess as campaigning kicks into high gear.

Liu's team said the candidate had raised more than $100,000 at the well-attended reception.
Liu's team said the candidate had raised more than $100,000 at the well-attended reception.
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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

“January 11th is a critical campaign filing deadline. It is extremely important to have a strong showing from my supporters,” Menin wrote in an email Monday. The event will feature a cocktail reception at the SoHo home of philanthropist Henry Buhl, co-sponsored by other big-shots including developer Richard Born, former state Democratic Chair Judith Hope, and Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal.

De Niro has been one of the key players in Downtown's revival post-9/11, spearheading the Tribeca Film Festival and founding several of the neighborhood's most notable eateries.

Other candidates are also trying to pull in as many checks as they can.

Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon had no last-minute events, but was planning for a boost Tuesday with a major endorsement by the Liberal Party, which is hoping to use Allon's mayoral bid to rebuild its brand.

Allon told DNAinfo that while he may lag behind long-established mayoral candidates when it comes to fundraising prowess, he’s already received donations from a Congress member, prominent real estate developers, small business people and “some very well-known New Yorkers and education leaders.”

“I'm very satisfied at the progress I've made in a very short period of time,” said Allon, who officially started campaigning in mid-November.

“I'm very optimistic that I'll be able to raise enough money in 2012 to be an extremely competitive candidate in 2013,” he said.

Rebecca Katz, a spokeswoman for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, said the presumptive mayoral candidate has also been hard at work, with as many as 10 events over the weekend and through the filing deadline.

“We’re seeing lots of energy and feel good about where we are,” Katz said Monday.

Scandal-scarred City Comptroller John Liu, facing his first major test of strength since his campaign was hit by a federal investigation into allegations of illegal fundraising, held a packed birthday bash Monday night at the posh City Hall Restaurant. It drew more than 100 supporters, including United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Despite the investigation, Liu has maintained a rigorous fundraising schedule as well as strong support from loyal backers.

“Really, I was incredibly humbled by the people who came to this party,” said Liu, beaming after the event, which campaign spokesman George Arzt said was expected to raise more than $100,000.

Liu ducked questions about how the scandal might impact his filing numbers, but said the night’s showing was “strong," with many long-term supporters who’ve been with him since the beginning as well as newcomers to the campaign.

William Su, one of the guests in attendance, said that he wanted to show his support for Liu, given the recent turmoil.

“I think he needs his support,” said Su, who lives in Brooklyn, and has backed Liu since his first City Council race.

Like others, Mulgrew said he was there to say "thank you" to Liu on his birthday, not necessarily endorse his campaign.

“We’re more than happy to come here and support this event and to also say thank you to John for all the work that he's done," he said, adding that Liu was also able to have some laughs over the investigation.

“He just said, 'My name recognition is definitely moving up,' " Mulgrew said.