Maya Wiley’s $ 1 million campaign debt in New York puts black-owned businesses at risk
As a mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley said she had “been black my whole life” – but that’s a cold comfort to the unpaid salespeople of her failed campaign, to whom we owe nearly a million dollars, including a black-owned business that now has to lay off workers.
“It could break my business,” the seller told The Post, speaking this week on condition of anonymity because he signed a contract with the campaign that banned him from speaking to the media.
“It was an income that I expected to be able to pay my staff. It means I have to make some personnel cutting decisions, ”he said of his five-figure bill.
The owner of the business said he was considering two or three layoffs.
Wiley owes 28 individuals and businesses a total of $ 999,664.51, including more than $ 500,000 to GPS Impact, a political communications company based in Des Moines, Iowa, for advertising and fundraising; $ 40,320 to Bumperactive, an Austin, Texas-based company, for campaign merchandise; and $ 211 to the United States Postal Service for postage and PO box rental, according to Campaign Finance Board records.
She also owed $ 4,000 in debt to Shams DaBaron, a former homeless man now lives in a Harlem apartment, for “political and fieldwork” work, but paid for it on July 13 – a day after the CFB’s filing deadline, according to spokesperson Eric Koch.
DaBaron told the Post that he was not bothered by the late payment.
“I am Maya for life. I do what I do for people that’s what matters. I’m not doing it for the money, ”he said.
But another vendor, a consultant who is expecting a large sum, called Wiley’s $ 1 million campaign debt “direct malpractice” on the part of his campaign managers.
“Some debt is acceptable,” the seller said. “It is not acceptable to owe $ 1 million. For me, I was more disappointed than anything else because it makes her look bad. This is obviously the worst case. ”
Prominent Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said delinquencies run much deeper than bad public relations
“It doesn’t speak well of his management skills,” Sheinkopf told the Post.
“If you can’t campaign, how can you run a city on a $ 100 billion budget? It’s never a good day for consultants and campaign agents when a campaign is in debt because you know you will never get paid or get everything you owe – if you have money. luck, ”he said. .
Wiley is awaiting a Campaign Finance Board audit that will take about two years, before being reimbursed by matching public funds to repay her debts. The city’s generous matching fund program gave mayoral candidates $ 8 for every dollar donated by a donor to a maximum of $ 250.
Paul Bader, owner of NY Prints LLC, which produced campaign materials, posters and flyers for the Wiley campaign, expects a reimbursement of $ 23,000. He accuses the BFC of the delay.
“They don’t understand and don’t care if salespeople get paid,” he told The Post. “All they care about is holding the candidates to the fire and making sure they point to every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.
A spokesperson for the CFB said: “City law requires all campaigns to be audited in order to protect taxpayer investment in municipal elections.
Asked about the matter, Wiley spokesperson Eric Koch underlined a tweet by the former candidate, a civil rights lawyer who was the lawyer for the mayor of Blasio.
“The reality of this black woman’s campaign is that our principles have paid off, but now we will be carrying debt on the books until the public matching program audits us to unlock the $ 1 million we received. “she tweeted.
“With deep gratitude to our suppliers, who believe in the mission and patiently await payment, and to the reformers who brought us this critical public $ system, I say thank you! ” she wrote.
While Wiley portrayed herself as a progressive who wanted to fund the police and get a lot of money out of politics, she lives in a $ 2.7 million mansion in a leafy Brooklyn enclave that hires private security.
Election experts say campaign finance rules prevent Wiley from loaning herself money to pay off debts, but she could raise money to recover her vendors before the audit ends.
Wiley finished third in the overcrowded Democratic primary won by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile and Nolan Hicks