NEW YORK CITY — The race to become the next speaker of the City Council is a costly one. Queens City Councilman Mark Weprin, in particular, has recently been spreading his campaign wealth around to key players in next year’s speaker battle.
Since the mid-March filing Weprin has made three donations of $10,000 each to the Bronx and Brooklyn Democratic Parties, as well as to the influential Working Families Party, according to New York City Campaign Finance Board records.
Weprin also spread tens of thousands of dollars to other council candidates for a total payout to political allies of $53,500.
“I’ve always worked closely with the Democratic Party in New York City, as well as the Working Families Party,” said Weprin. “This is a very important election year and I was happy to be able to help fully engage with voters.”
Working Families Party spokesman Joe Dinkins said, “For the WFP's 15th anniversary gala, we solicited support from dozens of elected officials, and we've deeply grateful to all those who made a contribution in support of our work.”
Brooklyn Democratic Party spokesman George Arzt was more blunt when asked if the donation could impact who the county organization supports in next year’s speaker race.
“That’s just blather,” Arzt wrote in an email. “The decision will be made on the merits and by a consensus of the members.”
Multiple requests for comment from the Bronx Democratic Party organization or its chair, Assemblyman Carl Heasties, were not returned.
Weprin is one of a number of incumbents angling for the leadership position in a Council that will see more than 20 of the body’s 52 seats filled with freshman members next year.
Manhattan Councilwoman Inez Dickens is actively pursuing the position, and is seen as Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s choice as successor. A nearby colleague in Upper Manhattan, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has made her interest in the job known, and is working closely with her colleagues in the Progressive Caucus to find and support left-leaning candidates for open seats.
Both Dickens and Mark-Viverito are facing primary challenges, and neither campaign has spent significant campaign funds on political donations of potential allies.
But Councilman Dan Garodnick has, like Weprin, donated tens of thousands of dollars to other council campaigns and political organizations, including a $500 to the Working Families Party, an $800 donation to the Brooklyn Democratic Party and a $1,700 to the Queens Democratic Party. But at just under $24,000 in political donations, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board, Garodnick spent less than half what Weprin did over the same time period.
Weprin said he is not participating in the city’s matching funds program.