During campaign season, it is expected for politicians to set up their campaign headquarters in their own district. Not only does it make the campaign and the Congressman accessible to his or her own constituents but also gives back to the business community. However, Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, decided to set up shop outside of his Brooklyn-Queens 9th district, says his GOP challenger Bob Turner.
Instead, the Turner campaign says Mr. Weiner’s campaign office is in the more expensive borough of mid-town Manhattan at 420 Lexington Avenue. According to Crain’s New York, the asking price for an office space at this building, known as the Graybar Building, is about $45 per square foot. Renters can likely expect to pay at least $6,000 per month. The tony Graybar building has a location next to Grand Central Station. While it makes for a convenient office space for the Congressman to reach out to commuters and Manhattanites alike, the well protected door man office location does a good job hiding him from his constituents in his district too.
It should be noted that Stephen L. Green, Chair of SL Green Realty Corp, owns the Graybar Building. He donated $2,400 to Mr. Weiner’s 2009 primary campaign and donated another $2,400 to Mr. Weiner’s general campaign on November 13, 2009.
In a statement, Mr. Turner said, “Anthony Weiner is totally out of touch with the people of the 9th District, so much so that he has his Congressional campaign office in Manhattan. Apparently Congressman Weiner is more interested in running for mayor of New York City than in being among the Brooklyn-Queens people who elected him to serve as Congressman.”
“I challenge Anthony Weiner to close his Manhattan campaign office and pay rent to a property owner in Brooklyn or Queens that he has been elected to represent. I would like to see Anthony Weiner back up his claim that he is fighting to grow the local economy and create jobs in the district.”
Mr. Turner opened his campaign office in Queens, and went after Rep. Weiner for neglecting the property owners looking to rent space in the Congressman’s district.
“It is mindboggling that at a time of economic crisis, when there are a tremendous amount of vacant store fronts and office spaces in Brooklyn and Queens, that Anthony Weiner would open an office inManhattan. This is the same Congressman Weiner who recently did a report about the number of shuttered businesses in Queens [see link below], yet he ignores the district and goes to Manhattan?”
Two calls were placed to Mr. Weiner’s press secretary for a response on this matter this afternoon.
**Update 10:30 PM Oct. 14, 2010 - Weiner campaign spokeswoman Risa Heller wrote in an email:
“Our campaign office is at 72-50 Austin Street. Visitor and volunteers welcome.”
This is a Queens address that goes to the Democratic Organization of Queens County. However, according to the Sunlight Foundation, “Friends of Wiener” is located at 420 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
The Weiner campaign has yet to answer why this Manhattan campaign office exists and respond to the photo the Turner campaign says it took of the 420 Lexington Avenue office door with the sign “Weiner for Mayor” taped up outside on the door.
Furthermore, when was the Queens address established for the Weiner campaign? Was it established after the Turner campaign called out Mr. Weiner for not having an official campaign office in his own district?
It would seem highly unlikely the Weiner campaign would be paying rent to the Democratic Organization of Queens County.
Additionally, Mr. Wiener’s campaign does indeed have the funds to open up a campaign office in Manhattan, so why pay money for a campaign office in another district, when the money could go towards a campaign office in his own district?
*Update 2:20 PM Oct. 14, 2010 - Since releasing the statement regarding Mr. Weiner’s campaign office being in Manhattan, the Turner campaign is saying the Weiner campaign opened a campaign HQ at the Queens County Democratic Club in Forest Hills, Queens.