Working Families Party might regret endorsing Nixon

Working Families Party might regret endorsing Nixon

Leaders of the Working Families Party and their affiliates could pay a hefty price for shunning Gov. Cuomo in favor of rival Cynthia Nixon over the objections of its union benefactors.

Records show advocacy groups tied to the WFP have received millions in state funding and financial support from labor unions — in essence biting the hands that feed them.

WFP Director Bill Lipton on Friday accused Cuomo of threatening labor leaders dependent on Albany largesse, telling them to “lose my [phone] number” if they continue funding WFP. The Cuomo campaign and his union allies denied the threat.

But Lipton on Sunday went a step further, claiming Cuomo in the same meeting said he “pulled the 990’s” — tax returns that WFP-affiliated groups file with the IRS — to look at their finances and contributions. Lipton considered that a threat.

“These are the same groups that fight deportations, evictions and unsafe housing conditions every day in working class, of color communities,” Lipton said.

The immigrant rights advocacy group Make the Road New York, a WFP affiliate and Nixon backer, receives more than $1 million in annual state government funding, its tax records show. Some of that assistance is funneled through Cuomo’s Department of State.

The Black Institute, headed by WFP co-founder and Nixon endorser Bertha Lewis, also received at least $175,000 in state funding in the new state budget.

Another WFP affiliate, New York Communities for Change, was given $301,774 last year by the United Federation of Teachers, which has split from the WFP and whose president Mike Mulgrew slammed the party’s Nixon endorsement. NYCC, an anti-charter school group, has endorsed Nixon.

The UFT declined comment about the group’s funding status.

But NYCC executive director Jonathan Westin called the alleged threats by Cuomo a “vicious and indefensible” attack on “communities of color and working people in our state.

“We will not be bullied by Cuomo, and we will not be deterred,” he said. “Despite Cuomo’s efforts to pit labor unions against community organizations like ours, the truth is that we stood with working people long before Andrew Cuomo, and we will stand with them long after.”

The Cuomo campaign claims unions have been leaving the WFP because they have strayed from their roots and they denied any “threats” took place.

“We understand Bill Lipton’s motivation in continuing to push this false narrative, but it is quite simply not true,” Cuomo spokesperson Abbey Fashouer said.

The unions, whose leaders helped co-found the WFP twenty years ago, have been the largest contributors to the left-leaning party. SEIU Local 32 BJ contributed $277,250 to WFP accounts over the past year and Communication Workers of American Division 1 gave $200,000.

Both unions are backing Cuomo’s re-election and last Friday pulled out of the WFP.

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