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NYC Councilman Brad Lander apologizes for violating ethics rules after seeking donations to nonprofit he helped start

2019-09-13

Call him “Bad” Lander.

City Councilman Brad Lander apologized for violating ethics rules after using his official email to solicit donations to a nonprofit he helped create.

“I should not have used my City Council office, e-mail, or seal to fund-raise for a not-for-profit that I am connected with,” Lander (D-Park Slope) wrote in an email to supporters and constituents on Sept. 6. “Council Members are prohibited from using our office to fund-raise for not-for-profit organizations with which we are affiliated.”

Lander had sent an email from his official Council account on Sept. 3 urging recipients to buy a book from his friend Ady Barkan, an activist who wrote “Eyes to the Wind: A Memoir of Love and Death, Hope and Resistance” about living with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Please buy your copy today by making a $25 donation to Local Progress, the group we helped created together,” Lander wrote, linking to the donation page on the organization’s website. “Just make a $25 donation to Local Progress this week, and we’ll include a copy for you in our bulk order.”

The mea culpa came three days later.

“As the current board chair of Local Progress, I am affiliated with this organization,” Lander wrote to constituents. “I sincerely apologize for the error. I value the public trust required for service in the City Council, and I take the rules of the Council very seriously.”

Lander told The Daily News on Friday that the emails speak for themselves, though he said the original message was primarily intended to share Barkan’s journey and encourage people to buy his book. He declined to comment further.

“You’ll treasure the book. You’ll help Ady climb the bestseller list,” Lander had written Sept. 3. “And you’ll help Local Progress keep building a movement of progressive elected officials in cities around the country.

Earlier this week, the City Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee voted to investigate an unnamed member for potentially breaking the conflicts of interest law. The committee refused to name the rule-breaking Council member until the allegations are substantiated.

Asked if he was the anonymous Council member who’s now under investigation, Lander cited Council rules prohibiting members from revealing details about confidential matters, including the committee’s ongoing probe.