Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association PAC Hopes To Influence Council Races

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association PAC Gave $6,500 to Six Bronx Incumbents

The nation’s largest police union plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence the New York City Council on behalf of its officers. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., a number of incumbent Bronx Council Members and candidates have received donations from the police union’s political action committee. Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, who chairs the Public Safety committee received the largest donation of $2,000.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents 24,000 New York City police officers and 25,000 retirees, has taken issue with a number of high-profile pieces of legislation pushed through the city council.

CM Vanessa L. Gibson (left); PBA president Patrick Lynch (right).

CM Vanessa L. Gibson (left); PBA president Patrick Lynch (right).

“We need to have a city council that will speak up, defend New York City police officers, and dig into the issues so that they understand them,” PBA President Patrick Lynch told The Wall Street Journal. “We also need them to stand up to the [de Blasio] administration and speak up on behalf of police officers as allies.”

John Jay College Professor Eugene O’Donnell said it’s good for the PBA to involve itself in council races. He said Lynch would do better to explain to local communities both what the union and its members do: “The PBA has a good story to tell: one of the most respected city services, available 24/7, the city is safe, deadly force is used almost always sparingly, the workforce is increasingly diverse.”

O’Donnell agrees that the City Council has done little to make policing better or more desirable saying, “instead they have given young people considering policing more and more reasons to take a pass.”

Through its political action committee, the PBA plans to endorse candidates in about a dozen races around the city this fall. With 44 city lawmakers up for re-election and seven open seats, the PBA hopes to shift the council away from the far left. Since 2014, the PBA has donated over $45,000 to citywide and City Council candidates, including incumbents. In contrast, the PBA gave over $179,000 to statewide elected officials and state lawmakers. Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who’s running in District 8, received $3,500 in PBA support since 2014. Rodriguez is said to be someone who gets the issues facing young police officers, many of whom are black, Hispanic and Asian.

Police officers have grown frustrated with a city government that seems to be working against them. Multiple pieces of legislation have sought to reign in what some council members consider police abuse of power. By getting involved in a few council races, the union can help their friends and make re-election difficult for those Council Members who have been less than supportive.

One recipient of PBA campaign money, CM Gibson joined about a half a dozen of her City Council colleagues in ripping police unions in 2014 for appealing a federal judge’s ruling that the controversial stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional. At the time, Gibson said, her protest was “not about all New York City Police officers. We are trying to get rid of the bad apples, we are trying to get rid of the disease in the police department.”

The following 2017 Bronx council members and candidates have been beneficiaries of the police union’s PAC campaign cash:

Candidate | Amount

Fernando Cabrera* | $1,000.00
Andrew Cohen* | $500.00
Ruben Diaz, Jr* | $500.00
Vanessa Gibson* | $2,000.00
Mark Gjonaj | $1,000
Robert J. Rodriguez | $1,000.00
Rafael Salamanca, Jr* | $1,000.00
Ritchie J. Torres* | $1,500.00
Marjorie Velasquez | $500.00
*Incumbent

Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Professor O’Donnell.

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