Rep. Kathleen Rice, a leading name to replace former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, could be dogged in the coming months by a batch of potential campaign finance violations involving her old district attorney campaign account.
Rice never deactivated the account from when she was elected Nassau County district attorney after she lost to Scheiderman in the 2010 Democratic primary for state attorney general. Since winning election to the House in New York’s 4th District in 2014, she has subsequently spent thousands of dollars from the DA campaign account on ads, consulting services, and donations to local Democratic groups that have actively worked on her elections to the House, according to a report by Crain’s New York.
Federal Elections Commission rules prohibit candidates for federal office from using leftover money from old local campaigns — such as Rice’s DA campaign account — for their federal office campaigns.
Schneiderman resigned Tuesday amid allegations of domestic abuse. He has denied the allegations.
Since she has taken office, Rice has paid $4,500 for ads in publications printed by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk counties and $150 for a “journal ad” from a local African-American church, Crain’s review of her State Board of Elections documents revealed.
Rice’s office told Crain’s that the ad placements did not violate election laws because they did not include the words “Congress” or “House of Representatives” — only Rice’s name.
Rice also dished out $21,000 to local Democratic organizations, including $8,000 to the Nassau County Democrats and their Young Democrats. The congresswoman insisted the donations were not connected to her House campaigns. But Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs confirmed to Crain’s that his group collected petition signatures for Rice to help get her on the ballot in 2016 and for the midterms this November.
Rice’s House campaign account, on the other hand, has not paid the Nassau County Democratic Party any money since she took office in 2015, according to her FEC files.
Rice still has $1.6 million cash on hand in her DA war chest, the largest among any of the candidates mulling bids to replace Schneiderman except for a state senator from Queens.