MANHATTAN (CN) – Complaining about his exclusion from New York City’s first mayoral debate on Wednesday, a Democrat claims in court that his embattled opponent is trying to tip the playing field.
Filing his suit Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Richard Bashner says the New York City Campaign Finance Board initially kept him in the dark about his apparent ineligibility under the Campaign Finance Act to participate in the debate. He found out only recently through reporting by the New York Post.
“The board purported to base its decision to exclude Mr. Bashner from the first debate based upon a misinterpretation of the CFA, which was amended less than nine months ago — in December 2016 — after candidates had already begun to announce their intention to run for mayor,” the complaint states.
Though Bashner has raised approximately $70,0000 in campaign contributions, and has spent more than $100,000 on his mayoral run, the law that de Blasio signed into force late last year says limits inclusion to the first debate to candidates who spent and raised $174,225 by Aug. 7.
Bashner says just two candidates make that cut: de Blasio and Sal Albanese — a candidate he claims to have gotten four times as many votes as in a May 2017 straw poll sponsored by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats.
Albanese also finished eighth, with less than 1 percent of the vote, in the 2013 mayoral primary,” according to the complaint.
“Mayor de Blasio thus signed into law, less than a year before the election to determine whether he is permitted to keep his job, a new requirement that effectively insulated him from submitting to a debate with all but one challenger — the challenger whom he soundly defeated four years ago,” the complaint states.
Claiming that the board has ignored his demands for inclusion, Bashner wants a judge to intervene.
“Immediate relief from this court is necessary to remediate this miscarriage of justice,” the complaint states. “By reducing the number of challengers eligible to participate in the first debate to just one, the board has arbitrarily, capriciously, and illegally limited the number of mayoral candidates that the public is afforded the opportunity to consider — a particularly troubling development given Mayor de Blasio’s rank unpopularity following an assortment of scandals and criminal investigations of his administration by the Justice Department, the New York state attorney general, the Manhattan district attorney, and various city agencies responsible for maintaining the integrity of municipal government.”
A graduate of Harvard University and the New York University School of Law, Bashner notes that he is a serious candidate, with more than 13,000 signatures collected to be included on the Democratic primary ballot.
The borough president of Brooklyn even honored Bashner for his longtime service by declaring Dec. 14, 2010, to be “Richard Bashner Celebration Day.”
Bashner is represented by attorney Michael Hiller.