Maya Wiley’s $1 million NYC campaign debt puts black-owned biz in jeopardy

As a mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley famously said she’s “been black all my life” — but that’s cold comfort to her failed campaign’s unpaid vendors, who are owed nearly $1 million, including a black-owned business that now has to lay off employees.

“This could break my business,” the vendor told The Post, speaking this week on condition of anonymity because he signed a contract with the campaign that bars him from speaking to the media.

“That was revenue I was waiting for to be able to pay my staff. It means I have to make some cutting decisions when it comes to staff,” he said about his five-figure invoice.

The business owner said he’s looking at two to three layoffs.

Wiley owes 28 individuals and companies a combined $999,664.51, including over $500,000 to GPS Impact, a Des Moines, Iowa-based political communications company for ads and fundraising; $40,320 to Bumperactive, an Austin, TX-based company for campaign merchandise; and $211 to the United States Postal Service for postage and a P.O. box rental, according to Campaign Finance Board records.

New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, center, speaks to a potential voter at a campaign stop in the Bronx
Maya Wiley also was $4,000 in debt to Shams DaBaron, a formerly homeless man now living in a Harlem apartment.
AP

She was also $4,000 in debt to Shams DaBaron, a formerly homeless man now living in a Harlem apartment, for “policy and field” work but paid him on July 13 — a day after the CFB filing was due, according to her spokesman Eric Koch.

DaBaron told The Post he was unbothered by the late payment.

“I’m Maya for life. I do what I do for the people that’s what matters. I don’t it for the money,” he said.

But another vendor, a consultant who’s waiting on a significant sum, called Wiley’s million-dollar campaign debt “straight up malpractice” on the part of her campaign managers.

“Some debt is OK,” the vendor said. “It’s not OK to owe $1 million. For me, I was more disappointed than anything else because it makes her look bad. This is obviously a worst-case scenario.”

Advertisement

Prominent Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said the delinquencies run much deeper than bad P.R.

Maya Wiley
Wiley is waiting on a Campaign Finance Board audit before being reimbursed with public matching funds to repay her debts.
AP

“It doesn’t speak well of her management skills,” Sheinkopf told The Post.

“If you can’t run your campaign how can you run a city with a $100 billion budget? It’s never a good day for consultants and campaign workers when a campaign is in debt because you know you’re never going to get paid or you’re not going to get all you’re owed — if you’re lucky,” he said.

Wiley’s waiting on a Campaign Finance Board audit that will take an estimated two years to complete, before being reimbursed with public matching funds to repay her debts. The city’s generous matching funds program gave mayoral candidates $8 for ever dollar contributed by a donor up to their first $250.

Paul Bader, owner of NY Prints LLC, who made campaign literature, posters and fliers for the Wiley campaign, is waiting for $23,000 in repayment. He blames the CFB for the delay.

“They do not understand nor do they care whether vendors get paid,” he told The Post. “All they care about is holding candidates to the fire and making sure they dot every “i” and cross every “t.”

New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley speaks during a mayoral forum hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton at the National Action Network's House of Justice in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., May 25, 2021.
Maya Wiley was the third-place finisher in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary won by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Advertisement
REUTERS

A CFB spokesman said, “City law requires that all campaigns receive an audit in order to protect taxpayers investment in city elections.”

Asked about the issue, Wiley’s spokesman Eric Koch pointed to a tweet by the former candidate, a civil rights lawyer who served as Mayor de Blasio’s counsel.

“The reality for this black woman’s campaign is that our principles paid off, but now we will carry debt on the books until the public matching program audits us to release $1M we have coming to us,” she tweeted.

“With deep gratitude to our vendors, who believe in the mission & wait patiently for payment & to the reformers who brought us this critical public $ system, I say thank you!” she wrote.

While Wiley ran as a progressive who wanted to defund the police and get big money out of politics, she lives in a $2.7 million mansion in a leafy Brooklyn enclave that hires private security.

Election experts say that campaign finance rules prevent Wiley from loaning herself the money to pay off the debts, but she could fundraise to recoup her vendors before the audit is complete.

Wiley was the third place finisher in the crowded Democratic mayoral primary won by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Additional reporting by Carl Campanile and Nolan Hicks

Advertisement