prosecution rests?

Manhattan DA Vance Stumbles in Campaign Cash Race as He Mulls Re-Run

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. raised a modest $25,450 in the last six months, campaign filings posted Tuesday show — putting him far behind two challengers in a growing field.

The three-term incumbent has just under $30,000 on hand — far less than the $1.35 million he stockpiled before his 2017 run, according to campaign disclosures filed with the state Board of Elections.

The campaign finance news came as rivals and others called Vance resignation over his handling of a series of high-profile cases. Meanwhile, he remains undecided on whether he’ll seek a fourth term in 2021.

In July, Vance told THE CITY, “It’s really too early for me to make any decision.”

On Tuesday, his spokesperson, Anna Durrett, said, “Nothing’s changed on that.”

Opponents Circling Vance

Two of Vance’s four challengers, state Assemblymember Dan Quart and former federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg, each raised more than $200,000 in the last six months, state election records show.

Vance’s fundraising has been hampered in part by his vow to not take donations from anyone with business before his office — even going so far as to clear a donor-screening system with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board, as THE CITY reported in September.

He sought campaign finance guidance from Columbia Law School after donations from attorneys representing media mogul Harvey Weinstein, now on trial on sexual assault charges, and family members of President Donald Trump raised public ire.

Under the guidelines, Vance is supposed to be unaware of the identities of his donors and refuse contribution from staff as well as attorneys and defendants who deal with his office.

On Tuesday, demonstrators — among them, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — rallied outside Vance’s office to demand his resignation over another case they charge he mishandled: sexual assault charges against a  Columbia University gynecologist.

Yang’s Wife Speaks Out

Dr. Robert Hadden got no jail time under a 2016 plea deal negotiated by Vance’s office, despite being accused of sexual abuse by 20 women, some of whom were pregnant at the time.

Hadden’s case drew renewed attention after Evelyn Yang, the wife of presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, went public as one of the doctor’s patients last week, sharing her story of alleged sexual assault.

Marissa Hoechstetter, another patient who says she was abused by Hadden, formed the organization Reform the Sex Crimes Unit seeking “increased transparency and accountability” in investigations.

Vance defended his handling of the case, saying in a statement Tuesday there is no Sex Crimes Unit “more talented, experienced, and well-resourced” in the country than his.

He said he backed the plea deal of a felony conviction and permanent suspension of Hadden’s medical license to make “sure he could never do this again.”

“While we stand by our legal analysis and resulting disposition of this difficult case, we regret that this resolution has caused survivors pain,” Vance added.

Another Vance challenger, Janos Marton, slammed the agreement as a sweetheart deal. In a statement, the former ACLU attorney and decarceration activist called the Hadden case “the latest in a brazen pattern of preferential treatment to rich and powerful white men at the expense of victims they abused.”

Makeup Mogul Helps DA

Vance’s latest campaign fundraising and spending records appeared on the state Board of Elections records system Tuesday afternoon, six days after the Jan. 15 deadline for filings. His campaign attributed the delay to a “technical error.”

Some 80% of the money Vance raised in the last filing period came from Revlon makeup mogul Ron Perelman and his wife, Dr. Anna Chapman, who each gave $10,000, according to state election records.

Manhattan’s top prosecutor also spent $101,759 over the last six months, with more than $30,000 going toward political advisors. Vance’s outlays included $5,000 a month on political consultant Dara Freed and $2,000 a month on Lesley Higgins, who handles fundraising compliance.

Former state chief deputy attorney general Alvin Bragg is running for Manhattan district attorney in 2021.
Former state chief deputy attorney general Alvin Bragg is running for Manhattan district attorney in 2021. Photo: Alvin Bragg for Manhattan DA

Overall, Vance’s fundraising has been dwarfed by that of Quart (D-Manhattan), who hauled in $219,068 over the past six months, Board of Election records show. The state lawmaker has $872,157 in the bank, with a portion coming from other campaign accounts.

That’s $500,000 more than Bragg, who previously served as the chief deputy attorney general in New York and an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.

Bragg raised $240,861 over the last filing period and has $339,700 on hand, records show.

Marton raised $52,024 over the last six months and has a total of $35,225 in the bank, according to state election records.

A New Challenger

And the field of Vance challengers is expanding.

Tahanie Aboushi, a civil rights attorney, announced her candidacy last week, underlining a reform-minded platform focused on decarceratation and decriminalization of sex work, drug use and “crimes of poverty,” she said in an online announcement.

She raised $95,725 in the last filing period, and has $79,321 cash on hand, election records show.

Aboushi joined Tuesday’s protest in front of Vance’s office calling for him to step down.

“I’ve watched him progressively get worse,” she told THE CITY. “Working in the community, seeing the struggles and how there were two different prosecution systems and how people of color and low income people were targeted.… For us who are in the trenches fighting these things, we know he has to go.”

Vance is “a fatally wounded elected official,” said Trip Yang, a political consultant who served as the campaign manager for Jumaane Williams’ public advocate run.

“He’s getting squeezed from all corners,” he added. “It’s not looking very good.”

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