Activists call on Phillips to clean up ‘toxic’ campaign cash

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Chris Tallent, MAYDAY America campaign director, left, and Nicholas Sieban, an intern with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, at a rally outside state Sen. Elaine Phillips office on Thursday. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Union workers, a hazmat-suit wearing balloon and a punk rock guitarist walk into a state Senator’s office. What do they get?

No response.

At least not from state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill).

Members of the activist groups, Clean Up Carl, Hedge Clippers and MAYDAY America, along with members of the Communications Workers of America – and a guitarist, Samoa Moriki – held a rally outside Phillip’s Mineola office on Thursday.

“Clean up Carl is traveling the country to take on the biggest corrupters and clean up their toxic mess,” said Chris Tallent, campaign director at MAYDAY America. “That is why we are here, that’s why we’re here at Senator Elaine Phillips office.”

The group is calling on Phillips to come out in support of closing the carried interest tax loophole.

The Democrat-controlled state Assembly budget proposal, which was released Monday, includes a measure to do so.

There are two weeks until the budget is passed.

The group went into Phillips office and asked to speak with her to ask her position on closing the carried interest tax loophole.

A member of her staff said Phillips was not around and he was not able to comment on her position.

In a statement shared with Blank Slate Media on Friday, Phillips said she strongly supports “transparency, accountability and stricter penalties for groups, organizations and individuals who violate election and campaign finance laws.”

She did not comment directly on the carried interest tax loophole, which does not violate campaign finance laws.

Members of Communications Workers of America attended Thursday’s rally.
(Photo by Rebecca Klar)

“‘Dark Money’ is another area where transparency, as to who is paying for political content, must be addressed,” Phillips said. “Integrity in our election process is critical to having faith and confidence in our electoral system. I stand ready to work to ensure that all of these issues and more are addressed.”

The carried interest tax loophole allows hedge fund managers to be taxed at about 20 percent, rather than the ordinary maximum income tax of about 39 percent.

In some cases, hedge fund managers are being taxed at rates lower than their secretaries, said Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education.

“Being a hedge fund manager is like running a scam operation,” Easton said.

Hedge fund managers invest other people’s money and get a cut of the profit, Easton said.

Their income is not considered income, and is taxed as a capital gain, he said.

“The pay I get at work is called my salary and I pay taxes on it,” Easton said.

Those investors, are taking their wealth to invest in politicians across the state for political influence, according to Tallent.

The group is on a Toxic Tour, addressing five state senators.

On Thursday, they also held a rally outside the office of state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset).

The other senators are Terrence Murphy (R-Bronxville,) Sue Serino (R-Hyde Park) and Tom Croci (R-Bohemia.)

Of the senators, Phillips is the biggest recipient of “wall street, hedge fund, toxic campaign cash,” Tallent said.

Phillips received $2.6 million in hedge fund PAC donations since 2014, according to Tallent.

Marcellino took in $900,000 in hedge fund PAC money, according to the activist groups.

“In what world does it make sense that a state senator in Mineola, New York is accepting $2.6 million to get elected?,” Tallent said. “The only thing more unreasonable than that money? That these state senators think we know they are accepting it without expectations to give something back to those donors.”

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