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Friday, October 31, 2014
Political arena

Koppell says Klein has turned non-profit into campaign vehicle

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted

Former Councilman Oliver Koppell, who is seeking to take state Sen. Co-majority Leader Jeff Klein’s seat in next month’s Democratic primary, says Mr. Klein has used state funding to turn one of the neighborhood’s most active non-profits into a campaign vehicle.

Mr. Koppell says since the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corporation (KRVC) received thousands of dollars in state funding thanks to Mr. Klein, it has promoted his reelection — against IRS rules that bar non-profits from engaging in political activity.

Mr. Koppell pointed to a giant outdoor movie screen that features Mr. Klein’s face on it, as well as the distribution of pro-Klein campaign material at KRVC events, as examples of alleged impropriety. The former councilman said KRVC’s use of  the movie screen at Klein events outside of the northwest Bronx were particularly marked instances of political activity by the non-profit.

“It is inappropriate to use that charity to advance Senator Klein’s political career, especially right now when he’s running in a primary,” Mr. Koppell said of KRVC, which he helped found in 1981, when he was an assemblyman.

KRVC Executive Director Tracy Shelton called Mr. Koppell’s allegations a “mean-spirited campaign stunt.”

She said Mr. Klein gave a $100,000 capital grant to KRVC to cover expenses including the screen. Ms. Shelton added that she took the screen outside the northwest Bronx so KRVC can branch out — not help Mr. Klein.

“We work in other communities sometimes. We’re not like, oh, we can’t go there,” she said. “We always bring our KRVC stuff and contact cards and that kind of thing. It’s not like we’re going to Michigan.”

Several recent movie nights with the KRVC screen took place outside Kingsbridge, Riverdale or Van Cortlandt, but within Mr. Klein’s district. An Aug. 9 movie night promoted on www.jeffkleinny.com, but not on KRVC’s website, took place in Mount Vernon and used the KRVC screen.

Still, Ms. Shelton mentioned KRVC’s future plans include a movie night in Marble Hill, which is outside of Mr. Klein’s district.

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