City & State – Residency Issues Threaten Michael Blake’s Assembly Campaign

From my online report this afternoon at

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

An independent review of Michael Blake’s residence reveals that prior to registering to vote in the Bronx in 2013; Blake lived and voted in Washington, D.C. Tax records indicate he paid income taxes in the District of Columbia, as well.

Board of Elections records indicate that Blake first registered to vote in New York in June 2013 from Edison Arms, a federally subsidized apartment complex for seniors and disabled people, where his mother lives. Edison Arms, located on Decatur Ave., is in the Bronx’s 78th AD. This past January, Blake re-registered from 837 Washington Avenue in the 79th AD, the district in which he is now running to replace disgraced former assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was convicted in May of accepting bribes.

Blake appears to have no New York City voting history prior to last year. He voted by absentee ballot in the 2013 primary and general elections. He voted in person for the public advocate run-off election that October. On both of his absentee ballot applications and absentee ballot affidavits, Blake claimed his mother’s Decatur Avenue address as his primary address. Oddly, he had the primary absentee ballot mailed to him at his Washington Avenue address.Steve Richman, counsel to the New York City Board of Elections, points out that a signed absentee ballot application listing a new home address serves as a “change of address.

”On the general election absentee ballot application that he filed on November 4, 2013, Blake again listed his residence as 2828 Decatur Ave.

Blake didn’t file an official change of address to the 79th AD with the Board of Elections until January 2014—missing the change of address deadline that would have made him eligible to run for the Assembly.


Michael Benjamin

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Mike Blake Scores Two More Endorsements

As his lawyer battles on his behalf in State Supreme Court, Election Part, Bronx Democrat Assembly hopeful, Mike Blake sent out an email announcing that he scored the backing of VOCAL-NY Action Fund and Community Voices Heard Power. 

In an email to supporters titled, “The Momentum Continues…,” Blake wrote

These endorsements mean so much to me because, coming from The Bronx, I’ve fought for the most underrepresented and underserved all of my life. Their endorsing quotes are very humbling and motivate us to continue pressing forward.

“The Bronx needs principled leaders in Albany that reflect progressive values and have an unwavering commitment to economic and racial justice,” said Bobby Tolbert, VOCAL-NY Action Fund Board Member and Bronx resident. “Michael Blake is a standout candidate with the energy and experience to bring much-needed change to the long underserved AD-79 in the Bronx. VOCAL-NY Action Fund proudly endorses his campaign and looks forward to working together to alleviate poverty and create more healthy and just communities in the Bronx and beyond.”

“Michael Blake brings forth the opportunity for voices of the community to be heard that have for so long been unheard,” said Joseph Mpa, CVH Power Board Member.“CVH Power is thrilled to support Michael Blake’s candidacy for the 79th District Assembly seat. He will bring about the type of meaningful change that The Bronx has been waiting for.”

The email ends with “Let’s change The Bronx and the world together! Let’s believe in a better Bronx” and a donation request.
I guess when The Bronx isn’t enough, why not the world, eh? (There goes that Canadian influence, again.)
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Lanita Jones Knocked Off the Ballot in the Bronx (79AD)

On Tuesday, the NYC Board of Elections commissioners held hearings on designating petitions for the September 9 Primary Election.  In the Bronx, Lanita Jones, a candidate for Assembly, 79 AD, was ruled off the Primary Election ballot by the election commissioners for insufficient signatures. She filed 1191 signatures but the Board found fewer than 500 signatures valid.

To appear on the Democratic Primary ballot, Assembly candidates must gather at least 500 signatures of registered Democrats in their district.

Readers of this blog and viewers of the related YouTube channel may recall this moment during a candidates forum held at Concourse Village back in June.

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New shady claims about Sampson emerge | New York Post

Embattled Brooklyn state Sen. John Sampson is up to his old funny-money tricks, critics charge.

Sampson was indicted by the feds last year for allegedly stealing $440,000 from housing escrow accounts and using part of the proceeds to help fund a failed bid to become Brooklyn district attorney.

Sampson has yet to stand trial and is seeking re-election to his Senate seat. But he is now being accused by a chief rival and election lawyers of using questionable, if not illegal, practices to finance his re-election campaign.

Sampson has reported that his campaign treasury has a deficit of $28,746 — a red flag that raises questions on how or where he’s getting the money to finance his re-election bid.The Committee to Re-elect John Sampson raised only $36,646 over the past six months. And he has to pay mounting legal bills from lawyers in the pending federal case.


Michael Benjamin

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Cuomo BOLO

BOLO: Have You Seen Me? Missing since @NYTimes reprinted @CityandStateNY #MorelandCommission scoop.

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

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In First Campaign Mailer, Mike Blake Casts Himself As A “Son of the Bronx.”

Mike Blake_Mailer_Front

Mike Blake_Mailer_Front

On Friday, Bronx Assembly candidate Michael Blake’s glossy four-page mailer began arriving in the mailboxes of 79AD prime voters. Blake uses the mailer in introduce himself to the voters he hopes to represent. He seems to answer critics who question his community connections by touting himself as someone “born and raised in the Bronx” who “knows what’s possible when we have hope.”

Mike Blake_Mailer_Back

Mike Blake_Mailer_Back

The glossy mailer presents Blake as the son of Jamaican immigrants who went “from no house to the White House.” He offers his “Change Agenda” for good jobs, college and careers, ending gun violence and freezing rents. The mailer’s “hope and change” theme seems to have a familiar ring. Michael Blake became the first candidate to send a district-wide mailer. Naturally, the expensive full-color campaign brochure features a photograph of Blake with President Obama. Blake takes credit in helping to pass Obama’s signature universal healthcare legislation as well as expanding assistance to minority and women-owned businesses.

Mike Blake_Mailer_P2

Mike Blake_Mailer_P2


Blake, a Democrat, lists his 1199SEIU and NY Communities for Change endorsements. The mailer went out before Blake scored the endorsement of the black-owned NY Amsterdam News on Thursday.

Mike Blake_Mailer_P3

Mike Blake_Mailer_P3

Last week, Blake announced that he had raised a $160,000 war chest (from donors nationwide). Blake has spent almost $100,000 without securing his place on the September 9 Primary Election ballot.

Blake’s campaign consultants include BerlinRosen, which guided Mayor Bill de Blasio to victory last year, and Strategic Persuasion, which is helmed by veteran campaigner, Hank Sheinkopf.

This week, supporters of Blake’s main rival, Marsha Michael, a court attorney favored by the Bronx Democratic County Committee, filed specific objections seeking to invalidate his petition signatures and disqualifying him because he doesn’t meet state constitution’s residency requirements. The petition challenge will be hashed out before the city Board of Elections and in judicial proceedings before a special referee. The proceedings should be completed in the next few weeks.

The other candidates running in the 79AD include businessman George Alvarez, entertainer Frederick Ricks, school aide Raul Rodriguez and tenant leader Lanita Jones. Alvarez has raised over $40 thousand ($25K cash-on-hand) and Rodriguez, $1050 ($745 cash-on-hand), while neither Ricks nor Jones had filed campaign disclosure reports by the state-mandated July 15 deadline. The Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers, Inc. will host a candidates forum on Thursday, September 4 at the McKinley Community Center, 751 East 161st Street. The forum begins at 7:30pm. Former NY1 newsman Dominick Carter and I will be panelists questioning the 79 AD candidates.

Michael Benjamin is a former state legislator who represented the 79 AD from 2003-2010. Follow him at and on social media at @SquarePegDem;; and on Skype:SquarePegDem

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New This Afternoon: The family of Eric Garner join Rev. Sharpton and NAN at the Saturday action rally tomorrow!

The family of Eric Garner will join Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network at our weekly Saturday (July 26) action rally and radio broadcast!

Saturday, July 26th, 2014
9:00 am
National Action Network
House of Justice
106 w. 145th Street (Lenox Avenue)
New York City

The family of Eric Garner will make their first public statement since the funeral at the rally on THIS SATURDAY (July 26)!

For more information call 877-626-4651

Tune in live 1190 WLIB am (radio)

Watch via live stream =>
Twitter: @SquarePegDem

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BREAKING NEWS: NY Amsterdam News Endorses Mike Blake for State Assembly

Email from Team Blake (79AD):

We are very proud to announce that the Amsterdam News has endorsed my campaign for state Assembly. I couldn’t be more honored and thrilled by their support. For more than 100 years, Amsterdam News has covered the most important issues affecting the black community in The Bronx, New York City and the country. I am truly humbled by their endorsement, which read in part:
“We see a new face entering the fore in the 79th District. Born and bred in the Bronx, a young man named Michael Blake seemingly has come out of nowhere to show the Bronx and New York that he is here for business.” “He wants to be a change agent. He does not want to be just a vote in Albany; he wants to be a leader in Albany. We believe he can, and we believe the 79th needs Blake. Therefore, we endorse Michael Blake in the Democratic primary for the 79th Assembly District.”

I spoke with the esteemed editorial board about many issues affecting the district – from sentencing disparities in the justice system, to breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration, to creating jobs – and I outlined my ideas and proposals for attacking them when I’m in Albany. I’m glad they agree with me and have given their support.

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

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In campaign filing, Ball details spending from nearly seven years ago | Politics on the Hudson

Gannett reports:

[State Sen. Greg] Ball showed that he spent $25,000 in May 21 on high-profile New York City attorney Joseph Tacopina. He announced May 16 he would not seek re-election.

Ball spent $2,860 on a poll in February and then another $3,000 on a poll May 5, the filings with the state Board of Elections showed.

Ball has criticized media reports that suggested his campaign spending is under review by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.


Michael Benjamin

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New today: A State Assembly Candidate’s Ragged Efforts for Hope-and-Change | NY Post Opinion

Michael Blake’s run for a corruption-plagued South Bronx seat in the state Assembly may be turning out to be “historic” for the wrong reasons, former state Assemblyman Michael Benjamin writes in the NY Post:

Michael Blake’s run for a corruption-plagued South Bronx seat in the state Assembly may be turning out to be “historic” for the wrong reasons.
A former top operative for Barack Obama going back to the 2008 Democratic primaries, Blake is running for the seat that Eric Stevenson vacated after being convicted of bribery in January. But his own efforts to stand for “hope and change” — and for the people of the district — are looking a little ragged.
Blake recently bragged on Facebook about the “record-setting and historic” $160,000 he’d raised. But he’s rumored to be getting help some odd places. Is Johannesburg, not Jersey City, the sixth borough? Why Johannesburg?
Well, that’s where US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard calls home. And Blake is a protégé of Gaspard, who once headed the Democratic National Committee and the political-action arm of powerhouse union 1199 SEIU.
Some Bronx Democrats are accusing Gaspard of calling his pals at 1199 SEIU urging their support of Blake — and, indeed, the union endorsed him Friday.
Gaspard already stands accused of violating the federal Hatch Act, which limits the political activity of federal employees. GOP operative O.B. Murray says he learned that Gaspard advised Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-Harlem) during his recent heated primary campaign.
In June, the White House Office of Special Counsel cleared Gaspard of violating the Hatch Act. But Murray notes that the State Department is still investigating because it has stricter rules regarding political activity.
Meanwhile, for all his celebrity status as a former Obama campaign staffer and White House aide, Blake needs to shore up his community base.
Hours after his Facebook post about his 3,087 petition signatures and “record-setting” war chest, word broke that Blake had broken promises to local leaders.
Bronx Democratic bosses learned that he had assembled a slate of community leaders to challenge their district leaders and state committee members.
He quickly got a disapproving call from party adviser Patrick Jenkins. Blake says Jenkins told him that running for the Assembly was one thing, but running an opposing slate was a declaration of war.
Blake said he was shocked at the audacity of the Jenkins upbraiding. But shock soon turned into compliance, as the Blake campaign severed ties with his reform slate and filed nominating petitions for his candidacy alone.
Rev. Bruce Rivera, the Blake-recruited candidate for district leader, says he doesn’t feel bitter and continues to support Blake’s Assembly bid. But other members of the slate were outraged by his betrayal.
Asked for comment, Blake campaign spokesman Aaron Carr e-mailed: “After discussion amongst the members of the slate we felt it was in the best interest of all the campaigns not to file together.”
A Bronx operative fresh off of Rep. Rangel’s primary victory thought it was important for Blake to have local leaders on his team.
But this betrayal of his own slate could bring its own problems, he says, since “[Blake] doesn’t need negative word of mouth.”
Like many, he can’t see why Blake would curry favor with County, as the local power­brokers are known.
I circled back with Carr, the Blake spokesman, to ask whose best interests were served by the candidate splitting from his slate. The answer: “We are staying with our original comment.”
Community activist Camella Price says locals are viewing Blake as a con artist. “Many are saying that if he’s doing this now, what can we expect when he’s in office?”
Blake may need to use every penny in his $160,000 war chest and all the luminescence of his Obama wattage to win over voters who are growing alienated by his style and actions.

Follow Michael Benjamin at:; Twitter: @SquarePegDem

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