A federal investigation into his campaign spending has not stopped New York State Sen. Marty Golden from continuing to send campaign cash to his brother’s catering hall.
The Brooklyn Republican has spent $59,042 from his campaign fund on events at the catering hall, Bay Ridge Manor, since the beginning of 2015 despite U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s announcement that Golden’s campaign expenditures were under investigation in October 2014.
For years the senator has faced questions about his heavy spending on events at the Golden family’s catering hall, Bay Ridge Manor. Golden owns the building that houses the catering hall and collected between $80,000 and $120,000 in rental income during 2014, according to his financial disclosure report. His wife also works there as a part-time administrator, collecting between $5,000 and $20,000.
“Campaign contributions are not intended to be backdoor ways of enriching friends and relatives,” said John Kaehny, director of the watchdog group Reinvent Albany. “They are supposed to be used solely for funding campaigns.”
Despite objections from advocates, Golden’s campaign spending at Bay Ridge Manor is categorized as a “constituent service,” so the spending is legal even if it enriches relatives. New York’s election law states that campaign expenditures for entertainment are unlawful unless “such event is part of, or in connection with, a campaign or is related to the holding of public office or party position.”
The Board of Elections declined to comment on the specifics of a politician using campaign money on a business tied to the politician’s family, instead referring to New York’s election law.
Outside income has sometimes been a source of corruption for other Albany-based lawmakers, notably former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Manhattan Democrat was convicted on seven counts of fraud, money laundering and extortion after directing $500,000 in state research grants to a Columbia University doctor who then referred cancer patients to a law firm that paid Silver. He faces 12 years in prison.
Bharara’s office and Golden’s attorneys at Manhattan law firm Gottlieb & Gordon, a firm that specializes in white-collar crime and federal investigations, declined to say whether the investigation into his campaign expenditures is ongoing. The senator has spent $48,297 in campaign money on legal expenses at Gottlieb & Gordon since August 2014, records show.
The majority of Golden’s income from Bay Ridge Manor is in the form of rent, but he also takes home between $5,000 and $20,000 in deferred payments for the sale of Bay Ridge Manor to his brother Patrick in 2002, according to financial disclosure statements.
The senator hosts holiday parties and cruises around New York Harbor at Bay Ridge Manor for his constituents with campaign funds, and his brother’s catering hall gets paid, records show. Since 2002, Golden has spent over $590,000 in campaign money at Bay Ridge Manor and spent $118,611 on events at the catering hall during the 2013-14 election cycle.
The biggest recent expenditures to Bay Ridge Manor were $13,334 for Golden’s holiday open house and $11,704 for a senior citizens’ cruise last summer. Additional events held at Bay Ridge over the last year include veterans’ breakfasts, events for senior citizens and $10,213 in undisclosed “constituent services.”
Senator Golden’s office declined multiple requests for comment from The New York World.
The payments to Bay Ridge Manor for the holiday party and senior boat ride were Golden’s two largest purchases on his July 2015 campaign expenditure list.
Golden does not campaign during the boat ride, according to interviews with senior citizens.
Local senior centers and residents appreciate the boat ride, which happens once every year.
“From the times we were on it, they served us and we received a big plate of salad, roast beef, chicken, coffee and cake,” Carmela “Millie” DiGiorgio, 83, said. “We sing, dance and Marty thanks us for coming.”