Disgraced ex-Rep. Vito Fossella is under fire from critics for claiming he’s spent less than $113 on his bid to become borough president – despite his name being slapped on lawn signs, a huge billboard and other campaign materials across Staten Island.
Fossella — whose congressional career was destroyed by a scandal 13 years ago when it was discovered that he had a second family — reported raising $59,460 for the race to replace term-limited Beep James Oddo, according to his latest campaign filing June 7. However, he only listed a single expenditure: $112.68 to Stripe, a San Francisco company that supports donation processing systems for candidates.
Meanwhile, hundreds of his maroon-and-gold campaign signs are hung in lawns and on fences throughout the borough, and a Fossella campaign billboard towers near the Outerbridge Crossing.
Registered Republicans borough-wide have also received letters from former Borough President James Molinaro touting Fossella, allegedly paid for by Fossella’s campaign committee, The Staten Island Advance reported.
So who paid for the stamps, signs and everything else?
The campaign for Councilman Steven Matteo, one of Fossella’s opponents in Tuesday’s BP primary, said in a statement that “Vito Fossella was notorious in Congress for his shady campaign finance practices, so this isn’t a surprise to anyone” that Fossella believes “the rules don’t apply to [him].”
Matteo, who has key backing from the Staten Island Republican Party and city police unions, has raised $900,313 and spent $418,503 on campaign expenses.
Fossella was elected to Congress in 1997, but he opted not to seek a seventh term after a drunk-driving bust in Virginia revealed he was quietly keeping a second family. He said in a March interview that he’s made amends for the affair in which he fathered a child and had reconciled with his wife.
David Catalfamo, a longtime political strategist volunteering as Fossella’s campaign spokesman, said the ex-congressman entered the race late and is awaiting invoices to accurately report campaign expenses.
He also accused Matteo of being a “lap dog” for Mayor de Blasio, adding the term-limited councilman “is desperate to hang onto power, and is more concerned about campaign posters [than] he is a city descending into lawless chaos.”
Matteo’s campaign insisted the councilman has helped “lead the fight against the mayor’s leftist policies.”
The city Campaign Finance Board declined to comment on Fossella’s campaign filings complaints, but its standard penalty for reporting expenditures late is 1 percent of such expenditures.