New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner has hired a California firm, called Crowds on Demand, that is paying actors $15 an hour to show support for him at campaign events.
A source with direct knowledge of the deal told The New York Post that many of the "supporters" for the embattled Democrat at the Aug. 11 Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan, for example, were really actors.
The source said the campaign hired the company within days after Sydney Leathers came forward to say that Mr. Weiner had continued having online affairs well after he disgracefully resigned from Congress.
The Weiner campaign reportedly asked the company to have actors seem "like either supporters or people who met him and became supporters as a result of that encounter," the source told The Post.
"The people would initially be skeptical and then they ask him various questions but would appear then to be convinced by his spiel," the source said, adding that the campaign used the rent-a-crowd firm "several times."
Mr. Weiner's camp has denied the allegations.
"We've never heard of this company and certainly never used them," spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said. "We are proud we've always had the biggest and most fired-up crowds. That's enthusiasm the other campaigns just can't buy."
The Post reported that soon after denying the use of Crowds on Demand, the campaign released a new commercial using interns to pose as regular New Yorkers who support Mr. Weiner.
"Unlike our opponents, we don't rely on open casting calls for folks in our ads," Ms. Morgan insisted. "Our campaign is constantly recruiting supporters to help out. Perhaps that's why we have so many."
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