Who knew Johnny Doc cared so much about the Latino voter?
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98, led by business manager John Dougherty, had a last-minute urge to invest in the voter turnout of two majority-Latino wards in the 7th District.
According to campaign finance reports, Local 98 donated $50,000 to the 7th and 19th wards just four days prior to the May 19th primary election.
The electrician’s union gave a $25,000 gift to the 19th Ward Executive Committee, chaired by Carlos Matos, and another one to 7th Ward Friends of Ángel Cruz.
This marks the first time in at least five years that the powerful union has donated any amount to the 19th ward. As for the 7th, Local 98 contributed a comparatively small $10,000 before the 2011 general election.
In total, IBEW Local 98 spent over $1.1 million dollars in the past election, less than $100,000 of which went directly to ward committees.
But what makes these two contributions sizeable is that Local 98 only gave money to a handful of wards outside of the 7th District, and only for a paltry $2,000 to $5,000 a pop.
It’s meat to potatoes.
Dougherty worked quietly and behind the scenes for much of the campaign season, avoiding media attention as he leveraged support for former City Councilman Jim Kenney and a select few other candidates for different offices.
But he had no dog in the fight between 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and her challenger Manny Morales.
Meanwhile, Kenney had no viable opponents in that particular district. He went on to secure a landslide victory in wards across the city, including the 7th District with the majority vote in all but the 7th ward.
Why did Local 98 give such a disproportionate amount of money to these two wards, rather than to wards favoring Kenney's closest competitor, Anthony Williams?
It may have had something to do with Latinos United for Political Empowerment (LUPE), who dropped their endorsement of Latino candidate Judge Nelson Díaz in favor of the race’s frontrunner less than a month from election day.
LUPE is comprised of numerous leaders the 7th District, including State Rep. Leslie Acosta, Cruz and Matos.
The group requested over $102,000 from Díaz for the joint get-out-the-vote effort with Manny Morales in the 7th District. Díaz, however, refused to run side by side with 7th District after allegations of Morales' racist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant views.
Kenney accepted LUPE’s endorsement with gratitude, on the condition that it he did not personally support Morales.
Moreover, Kenney’s camp said that they would in no way pay for a get-out-the-vote effort with Morales, despite that it was a condition of their endorsement. Kenney's own campaign finance records prove it.
But on paper, Political Action Committees (PACs) and private donors like Local 98 are forbidden to coordinate with the campaigns. They can, however, work behind the scenes to ensure that political allies stay happy and well-funded.
Obviously, $50,000 is less than half of the alleged asking price for LUPE’s endorsement. But what about Local 98's contributions to non-ward leader members of LUPE?
On the same day, the union gave another $25,000 to Friends of Leslie Acosta, bumping the total to over $75,000.
The math should raise eyebrows about Local 98’s sudden election-time interest in the barrio.