Independence Party Mess, My Side


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My beloved Independence Party is now front page news not because of the great candidates we have running for public office or the many honest dedicated volunteers like me who care about good government and political reform.

We are in the news because of a large campaign contribution given to our party from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Mayoral Campaign and his personal account to cover Election Day operations that ended up in the hands of Republican political consultant John Haggerty of Forest Hills Gardens via our party. The local Independence Party of Queens had nothing to do with this mess. We hope Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr’s probe will not overshadow our candidates or statewide leadership.

Governor David A. Paterson recently signed two bills making absentee ballots easy to obtain by using a fax request to your local Board of Elections and eliminating numerous questions that bore little relevancy to the voting process and violated voter privacy in the application itself.

I hold the record for the most absentee ballots legally obtained for a statewide candidate primary election – over 600. How? In 2002, Paychex billionaire Tom Golisano ran for governor for the third time, but this time only on the Independence Party ballot line. This time he faced a hotly contested party primary fight between him and sitting Governor George Pataki. Tom Golisano holds the record for spending the most on a statewide primary – a staggering $27 million. He defeated Governor George Pataki for the Independence Party gubernatorial nomination with around 300 absentee ballots from Monroe County.

I must say, that was a great political campaign to work on because everyone was well paid and spoiled rotted by a very generous Tom Golisano, an Italian American success story who in the early 1970s invented the modern day computer payroll system. His gubernatorial campaign employed the best political consultants, media professionals, lawyers and staff. We never ran into any problems because Golisano ran the campaign like his business – he put voters and staff first. We followed the rules, kept flawless campaign records – even my lunchtime Burger King combo meal receipts became a matter of public record.

I hurt my foot the other day doing campaign work, so, my orthopedic doctor put me out of business canvassing Independence Party voters for petition signatures this season. I want to thank Senator Frank Padavan, GOP 27 AD District Leader Joan Vogt, political consultant John Watch and Assemblymember Mike Miller for offering to help obtain petition signatures for me when you are falling apart. Whoever said politics is a self serving business didn’t meet these kind Queens folks.

Michael N. Niebauer is president/chief executive officer of Spindoctor Inc. media & advocacy company, founder of the Independence Party of Queens County organization and QPTV producer of “The Independent” a popular live cable TV talk show.