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Zombie campaign accounts live on

Rep. Gary Ackerman announced he will not seek

Rep. Gary Ackerman announced he will not seek reelection. Credit: Andreas C. Constantinou

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Gary Ackerman left Congress five years ago and hasn’t been a candidate since 2010, yet his campaign committee remained active until August 2017.

Ackerman’s campaign fund was one of 102 “zombie” committees identified in an investigation posted this week by the Tampa Bay Times. The newspaper used Federal Election Commission records to find campaign honey pots that lived on long after their owners left politics. Ackerman’s committee filed formal termination paperwork with the FEC last year, but the Tampa Bay Times identified nearly $20,000 of spending in the prior three years by the Democrat.

Most of Ackerman’s zombie spending paid for a storage unit — presumably full of pocket-size copies of the Constitution — and office utilities. The campaign contributed $2,000 to former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman’s failed congressional campaign in 2016 and made charitable contributions to synagogues in Roslyn and Hollis Hills. The committee’s final $722.47 was donated to the Long Island-based LGBT Network.

So what’s the status of the committees of other former members? Steve Israel’s committee spent nearly $40,000 in 2017 and still has $39,990.01 in the bank. Israel, who left office on Jan. 3, 2017, isn’t on the Tampa Bay Times list, which didn’t consider campaign committees to be zombies if they had spending within two years of leaving politics.

Tim Bishop, who left office Jan. 3, 2015, wound down his campaign in 2017 with $7,500 of donations and political contributions, including $500 to Jack Schnirman, now the Nassau County comptroller, and $2,500 to Taking Action for Suffolk County, a Mattituck-based progressive PAC.

Carolyn McCarthy, who also left office Jan. 3, 2015, wound down her committee in May 2015, with a series of political contributions and charitable donations, including $18,000 to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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