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First TV Ad of Mayor's Race Slams Christine Quinn

By Jill Colvin | April 8, 2013 7:17am

NEW YORK CITY — The first TV ad of the mayor's race will hit the airwaves Monday, skewering its front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The 30-second spot, heavy with smoke and ominous music, paints Quinn as a backroom dealer, who has misled the public about her motives and will do anything to get ahead.

"She wants you to think that she's a progressive. But on the issues New Yorkers care most about she is always on the wrong side: on living wage, her flip-flop on paid sick leave and on term limits," says a narrator, as a picture of Quinn's disembodied head floats through the smoke.

"All that's clear as the smoke lifts is her political ambition," says the voice. "When Christine Quinn doesn't support our values, how can you support her for mayor?"

The spot will begin airing Monday on cable stations, including MSNBC, Cablevision and NY1 as part of an initial $250,000  buy, a spokeswoman said.

But the ad isn't coming from one of Quinn's 2013 rivals.

Instead, it was paid for by New York City is Not for Sale, a new Political Action Committee launched with a singular mission: to make sure "Anybody but Quinn" is elected mayor.

Its founding members are Arthur Cheliotes, the president of the Communications Workers of America union Local 1180, Hugo Neu Corporation CEO Wendy Neu, and NYCLASS, a group of animals rights activists who have demanded an end to horse-drawn carriage rides, which Quinn supports.

Cheliotes said in an interview Sunday that the effort grew out of growing frustration among the members over what they saw as voters' false assumptions about Quinn.

“It seemed that Christine Quinn was getting some momentum and appeared to have a great deal of financial support based on the filings that we've seen. And we think a lot of it has to do with people who are progressive not realizing what her real politics are; making assumptions, not based on her legislative record," he said.

Despite their similar message, the PAC is not related to animal rights activist Donny Moss and the group of protesters that often pickets outside Quinn's events, both Moss and a spokeswoman for the group said.

The union is planning to spend half-a-million dollars on the campaign, with at least another half-a-million pledged, according to Cheliotes. A second ad is also in the works.

But Quinn's team shot back against the ad, suggesting one of her opponents, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, was behind the hit.

"This ad is paid for by a special-interest group, with strong connections to Bill de Blasio, working to circumvent the New York City campaign finance system," Quinn's campaign spokesman Mike Morey said in a statement.

"If Bill de Blasio is the progressive he claims to be, then he should oppose this effort to undermine the most progressive campaign finance system in the country."

De Blasio has appeared at rallies with NYCLASS and, on Sunday, coincidentally announced an upcoming fundraiser via Twitter touting his stance against carriage horses.

"NYers are uniting to elect a mayor who stands up for our city's animals. Join us for the launch of #AnimalLovers4BDB," his team wrote, linking to an invitation for an April 10 "Animal Lovers for de Blasio" reception.

But de Blasio's spokesman, Dan Levitan, said the campaign had nothing to do with the ad, and noted that none of the groups involved have endorsed his candidacy at this point.

Cheliotes agreed.

“I know Bill de Blasio but I didn’t have links to him and I don’t know that we necessarily support him," he said.

According to city campaign finance records, Neu has personally contributed nearly $5,000 to both Quinn and de Blasio, with staffers at the green energy company contributing $17,000 to Quinn's campaign, and nearly $12,000 to de Blasio's.

Local 1180 has also contributed to both Quinn and de Blasio, as well as fellow Democrat Bill Thompson.

Under the city's campaign finance system, outside groups can spend unlimited amounts of money on local races, as long as they don't coordinate directly with campaigns.