MANHATTAN — Congressman Jerrold Nadler's opponent claims the longtime incumbent is trying to force him to quit by sending an ally to try to bribe him — an allegation Nadler's campaign calls "absurd."
Oliver Rosenberg, 30, claims an attorney with ties to Nadler offered to help him raise thousands of dollars in campaign funds if he would give up his congressional bid, and instead run for City Council next year.
Rosenberg said he got the call in March, days after Rosenberg filed to run for the June 28 primary against Nadler, who's run largely unchallenged in primary races during his 24-year tenure.
Rosenberg also claims another person connected to Nadler offered him a seat on the board of a "well-known" nonprofit if he dropped his campaign and instead pursued a City Council bid.
Rosenberg's allegations were sent Thursday in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, a copy of which was shared with DNAinfo. He did not name the alleged bribers or the nonprofit.
In the letter, Rosenberg calls on the U.S. attorney to investigate the "attempt to induce me to withdraw my candidacy for public office."
Bribing someone to give up a race is illegal.
"Our political system is based on open, competitive, multi-candidate elections," Rosenberg wrote in the letter. "Any attempt to undermine this is a threat to democracy itself. These are disturbing reports that deserve thorough investigation by your office."
A spokesman for Nadler called the claims a grab for attention by Rosenberg in an otherwise floundering campaign.
"This is a defamatory allegation and is absolutely absurd," said Daniel Schwarz, a spokesman for Nadler's campaign. "This is really nothing more than an attempt to generate attention for a campaign that's failed to garner any momentum."
Nadler has represented New York's 10th Congressional District, which includes Lower Manhattan neighborhoods TriBeCa, the Financial District, and Battery Park City, as well as Greenwich Village, the West Village and parts of the Upper West Side and Brooklyn, for 24 years.
To bring attention to his accusations, Rosenberg and a handful of supporters gathered outside of Nadler's New York office at 201 Varick St. Thursday afternoon.
Rosenberg, who says he is an entrepreneur working on an affordable health care app, said he believes that Nadler is behind this bribery scheme, and wants a "full investigation."
"I know I'm making serious allegations, but it happened," said Rosenberg, outside of 201 Varick Street. "The political machine does not want anybody else to run for office — I am incensed that the people of New York have not had a vote as Democrats in 20 years."