Friday, February 24, 2012

Weiner paid 'fund-raising whiz' $8K a month after he resigned

Even though Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned in June of 2011, the former Democratic Congressman continued to pay his top financial adviser $8,000 a month for the rest of the year.

In March of 2006, Crain's New York Business referred to Dolev Azaria as a "fund-raising whiz," so it seems strange that a Queens congressman who resigned after being caught lying about an online sexual scandal would still keep her on the payroll, if he had little need to raise money anymore. But Azaria's luster as a "fund-raising whiz" may have faded since 2006, considering none of the Democrats she has been reported as helping to raise money for in the past currently hold any elective office, including, of course, Weiner.

FEC filings for Friends of Weiner indicate that Azaria might have received a nearly 40% raise after Weiner quit on June 16, 2011, raising her salary from $6,300 to $8,000-to-8,500 a month.

Azaria didn't respond to questions I sent her, so I can only theorize if Weiner kept paying her because he plans to run for mayor of New York City in 2013 or for some other reason.

"Shamed former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, looked the picture of happiness as they strolled through the Flatiron District with their infant son over the weekend," The New York Post reported just a few days ago, so perhaps he's still mulling a political comeback.

The October quarterly filing shows Azaria began drawing $8500 a month for "Administrative Services" beginning on August 3, 2011. Even after Weiner resigned, FEC records show Azaria also was reimbursed for scattered meals and other small costs, such as telephone and office supplies. Until June 30, Azaria had been earning $6300 a month as the July and April quarterly filings show. The 2011 year end filing indicates Azaria's monthly salary dropped slightly from $8,500 to $8,000 for the last two months of 2011.

"Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent more than $130,000 in campaign funds in the three months after he resigned from the House on June 24, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission," Russell Berman reported for The Hill on October 23, 2011. "That total was more than what all but three of the 11 sitting members of New York City’s House delegation spent during that time."

Weiner’s campaign reported more than $10,000 in travel expenses during the third quarter, which began a week after his resignation became official. The campaign spent another $25,000 on consulting firms and “policy research,” and slightly less than $30,000 on legal fees.

Weiner stepped down after admitting he had repeatedly lied about sending lewd photos and messages to women on social networking websites. His campaign reported refunding $15,000 in contributions during the third quarter, and ended the filing period with nearly $92,000 cash on hand.

“Most of the expenditures, including the travel to Washington, are associated with the winding down of Anthony’s campaign,” said Risa Heller, a Weiner spokeswoman whose firm is being paid by the campaign. “I remain on the payroll to field the regular calls, like this one, that continue to come in related to his service in Congress.”
Azaria's name didn't come up in The Hill article, even though she personally received close to 20% of the reported $130,000 spent in campaign funds during that period.

Berman's article added, "The spending of political contributions on legal fees and even consultants after a lawmaker has resigned in scandal might be 'unpalatable to the public,' but it is generally legal, said Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of Congress Watch at the watchdog group Public Citizen. 'The only bright line that exists is that it [the money must be] connected to the time in office,' she said."

According to LegiStorm, Dolav Azaria began working for Rep. Weiner in August of 2001 as a part time employee. Promoted to special assistant in 2002, Azaria brought home $26,833.32 for the year, and earned $29,000 in 2003. But Azaria's salaries since being promoted to financial adviser in the summer of 2004 aren't tracked by LegiStorm anymore (the 4th quarterly from 2004 for congressional staff salaries didn't even list her: link).

Over a decade ago, Weiner and Azaria used to live in the same apartment complex on Avenue V in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. One website notes, "A few times in 2002, FW (Friends of Weiner) reimbursed Dolev Azaria ([redacted] Avenue V, Apt 5D [next to Weiner's apartment 5C], Brooklyn, New York 11229) for supplies." Filings show Azaria was reimbursed between $500 and $600 in 2002, but that a $70.35 payment she was paid on 3/21/03 was voided on 6/30/03.

The Barton has 91 units and Weiner's room was right next door to Azaria's when she started working part-time for the then-single congressman. At the time, Weiner was in his late thirties, while Azaria was about 20-years-old.

If Weiner and Azaria ever dated, that information never reached the NYC gossip pages, but they did share one memorable summer evening "huddled..until the wee hours" together with two of the biggest entertainment stars in the world.

In August of 2004, the NY Daily News reported, "Hours after the final gavel ended the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Jon Stewart and Leonardo DiCaprio still huddled at the Roxy with New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn & Queens) and his finance aide, Dolev Azaria, They stayed until the wee hours Friday."

More from the NYC tabloid's gossip column:

"We could have gone longer," Weiner told us. "That's the problem with Boston - everything closes at 2 a.m."

Weiner, who shared a group apartment at 50 Grand St. with Stewart when the "Daily Show" star was waiting tables at Lupes and breaking into standup, said: "Jon doesn't go out much in New York. So it was great that he could be out."

The group had an intense discussion about politics, with the young rep (who will run for mayor against Mayor Bloomberg next year) and the actors "building up the Democratic party so Jon can tear it down next week."

The stars had watched Sen. John Kerry's speech from a $5 million skybox with John Cusack, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs and Christie Hefner - paid for with donations from Los Angeles rich guys Steve Bing, Casey Wasserman and Ron Burkle.

Sen. Hillary Clinton was also in the box, alone after Bill and Chelsea Clinton went to Martha's Vineyard to stay at the home of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Earlier, Hillary had reportedly been "looking at the frilly things" at the La Perla lingerie store. Hmmm

In December of 2005, NY Mag's Sarah Bernard predicted "at Least One Person on This Page Will Be Justly Famous by 2010."

26. Dolev Azaria, 23, campaign-finance director.
Two years ago, Congressman Anthony Weiner tapped Azaria to be his campaign-finance director; she oversaw a staff of six, some of whom were Ph.D.’s fifteen years her senior. Now she’s launching her own political-consultancy firm.

Five years later, in December of 2010, NY Mag did a follow-up: "We Said They’d Be Famous: What Actually Happened?"

Chadwick Matlin reported,

Azaria is still helping raise money for Anthony Weiner, just like she was five years ago. But now she has a healthy collection of other Democrats in her stable — Sean Maloney, John Sabini, David Yassky, Anthony Weiner, and Mike McMahon. She says she’s angling to get more involved in the nonprofit sector in the near future. “I remain strongly dedicated to supporting people whose ideology I believe in and whose career I want to further, but I also remain committed to giving back to the larger community and to people in need throughout the world.”

According to the NYC Campaign Finance Board, Azaria was the treasurer for a political action committee called BIG APPLE PAC FEDERAL in 2002. The PAC distributed $11,500 to Democrats running for office that year, as revealed at Open Secrets.

During the 2009-2010 campaign finance cycle, Azaria earned $125,202 with Weiner, according to Open Secrets, and $86,652 for the 2012 cycle, so far.

In 2010, Azaria earned at least $28,000 working for freshman Democratic Rep. Michael E. McMahon during his losing campaign to Republican Michael Grimm, a former FBI special agent. In 2006, Azaria earned $57,000 in consulting fees working for former State Senator John Sabini, who resigned after losing the Democratic primary to Hiram Monserrate (who was later infamously ousted after being arrested for sexual assault) and being appointed to chair the New York State Racing and Wagering Board by former NY Governor David Paterson; and $56,000 fundraising for Sean Patrick Maloney who unsuccessfully ran for New York state Attorney General that year, but came in 3rd place in the Democratic primary. The other reported Azaria client, David Yassky, lost his 2006 US Congress bid against Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-11).

The Daily News recently reported, "Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner used campaign money to hire private investigators to chase down his lie about his now-notorious crotch-shot tweet."

Alison Gendar's article added,

Weiner paid T&M Protective Services of Manhattan $13,290 for “legal services” in the fourth quarter of 2011, financial statements filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission reveal.

Sources told the Daily News, however, that Weiner hired T&M — a firm loaded with former NYPD sleuths — when he was in full spin mode over the controversy that eventually led to his resignation.

Two sources familiar with Weiner’s downfall said the Queens pol told investigators his Twitter account was hacked. T&M investigated — and learned Weiner had sent them on a fool’s errand.

However, the NY Daily News failed to note that the October quarterly filing shows Weiner paid T&M an additional $29,832.00 on September 1, 2011.

According to Open Secrets, the Weiner campaign paid $43,122, in total, to T&M Protective Services in 2011.

(Hat tip to Qritiq for noticing the payouts to Azaria in 2011)

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