Noam Bramson Failure to Convert His Supporters to YRH Supporters Drove Need for Dark Money

Less than 10% of Bramson 2019 donors have ponied up to contribute to Yadira Ramos-Herbert

Noam Bramson Failure to Convert His Supporters to YRH Supporters Drove Need for Dark Money

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 8, 2023) — Her campaign committee may be called “Friends of Yadira” but Yadira Ramos-Herbert does not have many friends among Noam Bramson supporters.

Bramson’s inability to convince his supporters (more than 90% of his donors in 2019 have not given a penny to YRH) to support Yadira is what led her to be broke by May, with a month left in the campaign, necessitating a $60,000 dark money transfer from the Westchester County Democratic Committee.

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The unprecedented, massive transfer to a local primary race, borne out of desperation over her anemic fundraising, has blown up in her face with even the Dem-Friendly Journal News raising questions about dark money in a local Mayoral primary.

That the transfer was made on May 18, just four days before the cut-off date for her required 32-Day Primary campaign finance disclosure, speaks to the dire situation in her campaign where she blew through about $48,000 of the $49,000 she raised with more than a month to go in the campaign.

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The WCDC has chosen to openly and flagrantly violate state campaign finance laws to hide the origin of the dark money (widely believed to be real estate developers frightened by what they perceive as Yadira opponent Damon Maher’s “anti-development” rhetoric, meaning no more blank checks to connected developers).

If the goal was to hide the money as the WCDC has done, it is all the more puzzling that Yadira accepted the $60,000 transfer on May 18 when she could have waited until May 23, and kept the transfer secret until the 11-day filing which will not be made public until the closing days of the primary election, June 27.

Either someone screwed up or Noam and Yadira were more concerned that they would be reporting they had only $1,000 cash-on-hand, so they took the $60,000 payment to shore up their balance sheet, hoping no one would notice the mysterious, big money transfer and say something (sorry to disappoint them!).

The chattering class of New Rochelle has been saying for weeks that Yadira has been struggling, but what does that mean?

As a one-term Council Member from a District with a disproportionate number of low-income voters, no historical base of citywide support, and few accomplishments to show, due in part to COVID-19 dominating most of her term, Yadira needed Noam to work his fundraising magic, but he has been unable to do so.

As I reported over the weekend, Yadira’s close association with Congressman Jamaal Bowman, who is seen by many Jewish voters as anti-Israel (or even anti-semitic), has her tarred with the same brush in some circles. Bowman endorsed her candidacy yesterday.

Her appearance last December at a Nation of Islam event, where she appeared on stage with an NOI member who just happened to bear a striking resemblance to the Elijah Muhammad character played by Al Freeman Jr. in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X, did not help. That she has subsequently refused to denounce the Nation of Islam or its leader, Louis Farrakhan, has made matters worse. The NOI image of Yadira has been widely circulated within the Jewish community in New Rochelle.

Yadira was noticeably absent last weekend from TempleFest 2023, Temple Israel of New Rochelle’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The annual event has historically attracted local and county elected officials as well as candidates. This year was no different, with candidates for City Council and County BOL on hand to support the event and press the flesh.

Damon Maher, whose wife is a TINR member, was there. Noam, who is a TINR member, was there. Yadira was not.

I wanted a way to quantify what struggling looks like based on numbers. Until votes are cast, the only available proxy is fundraising.

There are no direct apples to apples comparisons available: do I compare all of Noam’s past fundraising to Yadira’s past fundraising? No, that would mean two decades of fundraising for Noam and a few months of fundraising for Yadira. How about the first few months of 2019 for Noam to correspond to the dates in Yadira’s 32-day filing, with a cut-off on May 22? No, Noam did not have a competitive primary, so his need to raise money would be different. How about Noam’s fundraising in his most recent election in 2019 to Yadira’s fundraising in her current run in 2023? No, that would be a full year for Noam including a general election and about one-quarter of a year for Yadira and only during a primary election. A straight-up comparison is not possible. There is also the increasingly distinct possibility that Yadira will lose the primary to County Legislator Damon Maher, in which case her need to raise money to pay for her Mayoral campaign will end on June 27.

In thinking about the various ways to make a comparison, my conclusion was there is no way to draw a definitive conclusion between two different candidates, one an incumbent with decades of experience and one a novice, running four years apart under different circumstances, especially when one race is in the history books and the other race continues to unfold.

The least worst option — at least enough to start a conversation — would be to look at all of Noam’s monetary contributions in 2019 and see how many of those contributors were supporting Yadira’s campaign so far and, if so, whether they were contributing more or less or the same out of money.

This approach is premised on the consensus among New Rochelle’s political glitterati that Yadira’s candidacy is a Noam Bramson creation.

Although, both parties deny it, I believe the Yadira campaign was born out of necessity after Noam and DA Mimi Rocah cut a deal: Mimi would not seek indictments for corruption from the Grand Jury she empaneled in 2022 to investigate the sustained ethics violations against Noam, and Noam would agree not to run for Mayor.

Full disclosure, the ethics violations were based on an ethics complaint I filed in March 2022 after I reported that Noam had improperly sought to pressure then-New Rochelle City Manager Charles B. Strome to appoint Bramson to a 5-year contract as Development Commissioner. Between salary and pension, and an average life-expectancy, that appointment would be worth about $2.7 mm to Noam.

Here is some background for those unaware of Noam’s Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D.

Westchester County Grand Jury Investigating New Rochelle Mayor on Criminal Public Corruption Charges

A Westchester County Grand Jury has subpoenaed the New Rochelle Board of Ethics as a witness in an ongoing confidential investigation into public corruption charges against New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson relating to his nearly year-long effort to use his elected office to pressure City Manager Charles B. Strome to appoint him to a $210,000 a year job as Development Commissioner for which he was not qualified.

I also believe that Noam, who has a long-history of ratfucking, going back to his college days, and is never really done with his plotting and planning and scheming, is now working on what would be “Plan E”; if Yadira is Mayor, she can cobble together four votes on City Council to fire Bramson-nemesis Kathleen Gill, who succeeded Strome as City Manager five months ago or even push through a referendum to eliminate the position altogether by abandoning the City’s Council-Manager form of government which would open up myriad possibilities for Noam.

Noam knows Kathleen would never support him for any position in her administration, so, as far as Noam is concerned, she is an obstacle to his still-festering ambitions.

The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Part III: New Rochelle Mayor Plots to Rescind Gill Appointment

Mayor Noam Bramson sought four votes, a majority on Council, sufficient to terminate the City Manager if he did not acquiesce to the Mayor’s desire that the City Manager rescind the appointment of Kathleen Gill as Deputy City Manager.

I have no doubt, and said so at the time, that Yadira lied under oath in the ethics investigation in a ham-handed and inarticulate attempt to defend Noam. In particular, that she, along with Council Member Sara Kaye and Noam, were the three votes Noam lined up to oust Strome. Yadira denied this, under oath, when it is clearly and unequivocally true.

The attempted coup by Noam and Yadira and Sara failed when the other three Democrats (Liz Fried, Martha Lopez, and Ivar Hyden) sided with lone Republican Council Member Al Tarantino and backed Strome, his promotion of Gill to Assistant City Manager which set the stage for her rise to City Manager. The Gang of Four stuck together throughout 2022, ultimately voting to hire Gill as City Manager in November. Facing a 4-3 loss, Noam and Yadira flipped and voted for Gill as CM. Sara Kaye was so upset that Gill had the necessary votes, that she petulantly refused to appear for the Council vote, claiming, implausibly, that she was suddenly “sick”. Gill was approved 6-0.

The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts: Final Summary with All Raw Transcripts

Ramos-Herbert deserves special mention, given the deeply mendacious nature of her testimony. She demonstrated a unique capacity to tell multiple lies in a single sentence. She would certainly not survive a grilling under oath by an aggressive ADA armed with a keen mind and a transcript of her highly contradictory ethics board testimony.

From the first article in this series:

The most notable lie is both in the transcript of her testimony, and an interview of her by the Journal News — that she was not the Mayor’s “third vote” in his attempt to pressure the City Manager to rescind his appointment of Kathleen Gill as Deputy City Manager. Other witnesses provided testimony that indicates she is the third vote. The Mayor himself repeatedly talks about 3 votes while also acknowledging that Fried, Tarantino, Hyden and Lopez were a hard “no” on the Kathleen Gill matter. There are 7 members on Council, which leaves Bramson with two, Sara Kaye and Yadira Ramos-Herbert. She is clearly lying, and the DA should press her on this point.

I believe Yadira ultimately voted for Gill under the direction of Noam, similar to how Noam told Democrats on Council to vote “no” on the Forest City / Echo Bay deal back in the day, once it was apparent the Echo Bay deal was dead (the vote was 6-1, against, with Noam the lone “yes” vote).

In her sworn testimony, Yadira made clear, on the record and under oath, that she opposed hiring Kathleen Gill as City Manager.

  • “I did have reservations -- if she did apply, I did have reservations”
  • “She's not necessarily someone I would identify as my first pick.”
  • “I've had some interesting interactions with her that, I think, limit the city in some ways”

Behind the scenes, Yadira was more forceful in denouncing Gill, which makes her “yes” vote on Gill as CM all the more cynical. She (or, more properly, Noam), likely calculated that it would hurt her politically to be on the wrong side of that vote.

To my knowledge, until the New Rochelle Ethics Board investigation and the Westchester County Grand Jury investigation, the only expected change on City Council was the retirement of Liz Fried. Yadira, not popular in District 3, and not a sure thing to win a second term, had her hand forced by Lianne Merchant, who abruptly announced early that she intended to primary Yadira in District 3.

As Noam processed that he was not long going to be Mayor, he had two likely choices, to support Yadira or Sara, secure in her District 5 seat.

Noam agreed to back Yadira for Mayor.

It is typical in a situation like this that someone in Noam’s position would offer to support their chosen candidate in many ways (Noam is widely seen as Yadira’s de facto campaign manager) but foremost by fundraising for that candidate.

In 2019, from January until Election Day in November, Noam received 425 contributions, 18 of which were "dupes" (donors giving more than once) so 407 actual donors, mostly individuals but a fair number of companies.

In 2023, from January until May 23, Yadira received 169 contributions, 12 of which were "dupes" so 157 donors, almost all individuals.

Of the 407 donors on Noam's 2019 list, 40 of them are on Yadira's 2023 list for a conversion rate of below 10%.

40/407 = 9.8% conversion rate

Put another way, 90.2% of Noam 2019 supporters have, so far, not supported Yadira and therein lies her problem.

Another way to look at Yadira’s struggles is to look at the amount those 40 donors contributed to Noam v. Yadira. Here is the list sorted two ways, by name and amount difference.

The 40 donors who gave to both Noam and Yadira have so far given $2.210 less (or 17% less) to Yadira, an amount more than accounted for by two donors each giving $1,750 less to Yadira.

Of Yadira’s 169 contributors, 129 (76%) are not from Noam’s list, meaning that what little she has gotten so far she has largely gotten on her own. It will be interesting to see how obligated she feels towards Noam given his failure to deliver supporters.

Again, this may change in the closing weeks of the Primary Election and, certainly, if Yadira wins and goes on to the General Election, but for now, Noam has been unable to convert his supporters into Yadira supporters, hence the panic among establishment Democrats aligned with developers who fear a Maher victory as Damon is notorious for not playing ball with entrenched interests, even within his party.


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