28 THE QUEENS COURIER • MAY 23, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Queens DA hopeful taps Obama 2012 vet and listserv in latest round of fundraising
BY MARK HALLUM
Tiff any Cabán has not only enlisted the
help of a veteran to the 2012 Obama
campaign, but the Queens district attorney
Katz and Lasak clash over jail plan as DA race heats up
BY BILL PARRY
As the June 25 Democratic primary
draws closer, tensions are beginning to
rise in the fi eld of seven candidates in the
race for Queens District Attorney.
Th is week, retired Judge Greg Lasak
issued a challenge to one of his opponents,
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz
over the controversial proposal for a community
based jail in Kew Gardens.
Lasak blasted Katz for belatedly
announcing her opposition to the $30
billion Rikers Island clearance plan that
would move detention centers into neighborhoods
in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn
“Voters should not be fooled,” Lasak
said. “Melinda Katz still wants a new jail
in Queens. Only now, she won’t tell us
where she wants to put it.”
Katz backed the city’s plan at the start
of 2019 but began to feel a backlash brewing
among civic groups in Kew Gardens
and in its surrounding neighborhoods. In
January, Katz fi red off a letter to City Hall
suggesting the entire process should start
over again with more community and
Aft er Community Board 9 voted unanimously,
28-0, to oppose the construction
of the new jail in Kew Gardens, Katz made
her opposition to the proposal clear.
Lasak issued his challenge to Katz saying,
“Join me today and pledge to fi ght
any prison plan, anywhere in the borough
Before he retired from the bench aft er
15 years in order to run for Queens DA,
Lasak served as a top prosecutor in the
Queens DA’s offi ce for 25 years.
“Aft er an entire career of sending people
to suff er on Rikers Island, it’s no surprise
that Greg Lasak wants that same culture
of abuse and violence to continue,” Katz
campaign spokesman Grant Fox said.
“Before he decided to run for District
Attorney, Mr. Lasak never for a moment
considered reforming the criminal justice
system, and his ludicrous plan to build
another Rikers all over again refl ects that
inexperience. Meanwhile, Melinda has
been engaged with the city, the community,
and other boroughs throughout the
entire process and came to the conclusion
to oppose the current plan that ignores
any input from Queens residents.”
Lasak believes the money that would be
used to build the four community-based
jails would be better spent demolishing
the current prison complex on Rikers
Island in order to build a new state-ofthe
art correctional facility.
“To have real reform we must have a
new facility of Rikers Island that is safe
for prisoners, their families, and especially
Correction Offi cers who have one of the
toughest jobs in the criminal justice system,”
Fox believes Katz decided to oppose the
plan over time, aft er a series of community
meetings hearing opinions and complaints
about the process.
“She’s proposing real solutions to create
a fairer criminal justice system, whereas
the only thing Mr. Lasak has to off er in
naive empty rhetoric and a path back to
the same broken system,” Fox said.
When Lasak released his plan to rebuild
Rikers in late March he said shovels could
hit the ground right away to ensure that
conditions were improved to provide
inmates basic human dignity in a more
“Th e entire plan to close Rikers was
prefaced on decreasing violence, increasing
services and changing the culture at
the jail on Rikers Island,” he said. “Th ose
are the goals I share, but solving them 10
years from now is not the answer.”
candidate has also scooped up access
to a listserv used to reach individuals in
Nevada at the time of the election that year.
According to an email obtained by QNS,
the listserv is state-specifi c and there may
be hundreds of people on said roster, but
that does not rule out email caches for other
states being used to levy contributions.
As per the email, Cabán has brought
onto her team Luke Hayes, brother to
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and formerly
Barack Obama’s Nevada state director
from his re-election campaign.
“Th is would be bigger than Krasner
winning in Philly – Queens has 2.3 million
resident. Imagine if the AG for
Nevada ran on the platform below,” Hayes
wrote in the email.
Addressed to the Google group “OFANV
Staff 2012 Alumni,” Hayes’ email
hashes out Cabán’s platform in a series of
Th e strategy could mark a turnaround
for the Cabán campaign, which according
to January fi lings with the state Board of
Elections, had failed to raise over $1,000.
Th e next deadline for campaign disclosures
is May 24 and there is no current
data with BOE to indicate where Cabán’s
camp currently stands fi nancially.
As state director, Hayes likely had access
to the listservs of other states, an anonymous
source told QNS.
Hayes aided now-State Senator
Alessandra Biaggi sail to victory over
Independent Democratic Committee
leader Jeff Klein in 2018.
According to a report from THE CITY,
Cabán’s campaign has possibly been in
throes of hemorrhaging funds for months
now, with former workers telling the news
nonprofi t they had yet to be paid.
Th e Cabán campaign claimed the only
reason why those employees had not
receive pay was because they could not
THE CITY’s report also chronicled a
revolving door in the campaign’s management
with Martha Ayon and Virginia
Ramos Rios, who helped Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez overthrow incumbent Joe
Crowley, going their separate ways.
Cabán has been locking down progressive
support from organizations such as
the Democratic Socialists of America,
Working Families Party, No IDC NY as
well as Linda Sarsour.
With the DSA’s Queens chapter initially
endorsing Cabán, the national organization
has followed suit.
“A win for Tiff any can mean an end to
the double standard of targeting communities
of color and working people while
ignoring abusive landlords and employers
who steal wages from their employees,”
Devin McManus from the DSA’s national
electoral committee said.
Meanwhile, Cabán has been making
waves in the conversation surrounding
the closure of Rikers Island with her
stance against the construction of new
jails of any kind.
Cabán faces Mina Malik, Borough
President Melinda Katz, Councilman
Rory Lancman, prosecutors Betty Lugo
and Jose Nieves, as well as retired judge
Gregory Lasak in the June 25 primary.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
Illustration via QNS from fi le and Twitter photos, @GregLasak