By Kevin Deutsch
A reported campaign contribution records showed as returned by District Attorney Darcel Clark to Bronx Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann Brigantti was the result of a clerical error made by the treasurer working on both their re-election campaigns, the official said Wednesday.
As reported exclusively by Bronx Justice News last week, records filed with the state board of elections in May included a disclosure report showing Clark’s campaign refunded a $500 contribution made by check to her reelection campaign by Brigantti, a veteran judge who hears civil cases in the borough.
In a letter emailed to Bronx Justice News, the treasurer for both women’s campaigns, Carl Lucas, said he was writing to “clarify what actually happened regarding the reported contribution refund.”
Lucas said he had “made a clerical error in accounting” and has “since filed an amended report to reflect the correction.”
“Judge Brigantti’s Campaign never made a contribution to the Clark campaign nor did she receive a donation refund,” Lucas wrote.
While the original disclosure filing (below) showed Clark’s campaign had refunded a contribution to Brigantti, Lucas wrote Wednesday that “the NYS Board of Election Financial Disclosure Reports for both of these campaigns do not report a contribution by the Brigantti Campaign to the Clark Campaign because none was ever made. This “contribution refund” was a reporting and clerical error by me.”
Bronx Justice News sent multiple emails to Clark’s campaign manager seeking comment on the reported contribution return before reporting the disclosure records, but did not receive a response.
The records showed Clark raked in $93,660 in donations between January and late May 2019, despite the absence of any challengers to her reelection campaign. The incumbent DA is poised to win another term this fall.
Lucas, her campaign treasurer, also took the blame for a controversial donation made to the DA in 2015 from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The church, like all tax exempt charitable groups, is not permitted by law to contribute to campaigns or political parties.
Lucas told the New York Post in 2017 that he had erred by depositing the contribution, and refunded it in February 2016.
“It was my fault for taking it,” Lucas told the newspaper.
Brigantti, who works out of the Bronx civil courthouse, also has a prior brush with controversy.
The judge received an official reprimand in 2013 after the state Commission on Judicial Conduct determined she had “lent the prestige of judicial office to advance her own and others’ private interests and/or failed to conduct her extra-judicial activities so as to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligation.”
Brigantti, commissioners found, had repeatedly had staff members pick her daughter up from school and perform babysitting duties at the judge’s home, as well as the courthouse. She also had her secretary ferry her to salon and shopping visits, and asked staff members to pray with her during work hours, according to records filed by the commission.
The commission, which handles judicial discipline in New York, said Brigantti admitted to, and agreed to stop, the questionable activities, which occurred between 2005 and 2011, records show.