DA Hynes Is Misusing His Employees On Behalf Of His Campaign

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

I have learned from several sources in the Office of the Kings County District Attorney (KCDA) Charles (Joe) Hynes that ADAs are being leaned on to work for the campaign on Election Day as poll watchers and to do GOTV (Get Out the Vote) tasks. The requests have all come verbally from mid-level staff senior to those who are being asked. It is not clear if the requests are going to all staff. But it is clear that these are not just isolated requests; the pressure is coming from on-top. Officially there is no demand and nobody is threatening explicit consequences. But there is a climate of fear in the office where those who refuse worry about hurting their employment status.

This follows on the heels of the revelation that Diana Brogan, a sitting ADA appeared in an ad produced for the Hynes reelection campaign. This was in violation of the NYS Bar Association’s Ethics Opinion that, “A prosecuting attorney may not campaign for candidates for public office… This proscription applies not only to the District Attorney, but also to subordinate attorneys, such as an assistant district attorney.” While the DA’s campaign spokesperson, George Arzt, disputed this point, the campaign is not going to be airing the ad.

Besides their televised endorsements and unpaid campaign labor, Hynes also extracts cash from his employees. Back in 2005, the Daily News reported:

[Arnold] Kriss was joined by two former senior Hynes staffers with annual salaries of more than $100,000 who said they were forced to pony up for the top prosecutor’s reelection bid. “If someone superior to you in the office asked you, it’s understood you’d give to the fund-raiser,” a former Hynes bureau chief said. “I valued my job.”

Her $300 donation from July 12, 2002 showed up in campaign filing records from that year. “I was told at my level, I was expected to give $300,” said another former staffer, calling it a “sliding scale” system where employees were expected to donate from $100 to $300, depending on their salaries……

While Hynes spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said the practice – which isn’t illegal – ended in the 2001 election, records obtained by the Daily News show that Hynes accepted donations from staffers as late as August 2002. The donations, totalling $18,600, were from a fund-raiser “to assist the DA’s campaign to retire debt” from the 2001 campaign, Schmetterer said. “We don’t deny it happened in the past,” he added, “but the DA will not accept a contribution from a member of the staff.

Our legalistic DA has gotten around that promise by getting his contributions from the relatives of sitting ADAs. Below is a very partial list based on campaign contribution records. The amounts below are totals of giving by a particular individual over this entire campaign.

  • 1st ADA Ann Swern: $3,250 by husband Steve B Brounstein
  • ADA Angel DiPietro: $500 by father James DiPietro
  • ADA Rhonnie Jaus, Head of Sex Crimes: $500 by husband Masssimo Jaus
  • ADA Susan Quirk: $10,000 by Court Officers Union (completely controlled her father, Dennis Quirk- see also Joseph Lanni).

I strongly suspect there are many more such contributions; however I do not have a full list of either ADAs or of their relatives. But I am willing to bet Hynes has such lists and has been milking them. Of course Hynes will insist that contributions are not pay to play. For many of his fearful employees, this may be more like pay to stay.

For more on the corruption of the Hynes administration see this partial set of my posts during 2013:


2 thoughts on “DA Hynes Is Misusing His Employees On Behalf Of His Campaign

  1. Who says hitting up public employees for campaign donations or “volunteer” work as the price of their jobs isn’t illegal? I don’t have time to research it at the moment, but IIRC, Illinois politicians got in big trouble for that. A coerced campaign donation or campaign labor amounts to coerced speech in favor of the candidate/boss — in violation of the First Amendment.

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