Nothing like a boss who shares the wealth!
Brooklyn state Sen. Kevin Parker and his staff have enjoyed luxury food, travel and jewelry with the help of thousands of dollars in donations to the 10-term incumbent — who is battling for his political life in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary.
Since last year, Parker has stuck his campaign committee with $1,814.01 in bills from the Royal Sonesta New Orleans hotel, $825 in jewelry for “staff appreciation,” as well as nearly $2,000 more for luxury wellness products and services, campaign finance records show.
“It’s so disappointing to see that at this moment, when so many people are struggling to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads,” David Alexis, a democratic socialist challenging Parker in the primary, said in a statement.
Parker – who is also facing former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Kaegan Mays-Williams – did not respond to multiple requests for comment Monday.
Among the most perplexing purchases in Parker’s campaign filings are three expenditures dated Oct. 14, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 — for $271.41, 196.87, and $1,345.73 respectively — from the Royal Sonesta New Orleans on Bourbon Street.
The campaign said the hotel was used for “Somos Conference Lodging” — even though the annual Democratic junket is held 1,700 miles away in Puerto Rico.
Other big spending by Parker or his staff include $258.84 at the Soho outpost of Cipriani last August and $219.53 from Battello – a contemporary Italian establishment touting views of the Manhattan skyline from the Jersey City waterfront – last September.
A December 2021 meal at the sommelier-staffed Capital Grille in Midtown cost $338.61 alone, records show.
On all three occasions, the campaign listed the swanky get-togethers as a “fundraising meeting.”
Parker also showed $1,966.49 worth of “staff appreciation” via a dozen purchases of unknown wellness products from candle specialist Essence of Ase, body scrub maker ASLI Pure Natural Body Care and the so-called Life Wellness Center in Bed-Stuy, which offers massages and acupuncture.
The lawmaker’s largesse for staffers also included $825 in purchases from Kilna Ibura Jewelry, whose website boasts “one of a kind sterling silver and gemstone jewelry.”
The spending has only made a slight dent in the $131,940 campaign war chest Parker reported 32 days ahead of the primary. Alexis and Mays-Williams reported just $80,219 and $89,375 in their own filings, respectively.
While campaign spending on luxury items may be unseemly, experts say it’s hardly illegal given how lax state finance rules are compared to federal law.
“New York State campaign finance law, and the personal use of campaign contributions, needs to be much stricter than it is,” Rachel Fauss of the good government group Reinvent Albany told The Post.
“That said, it’s bad practice for candidates for office to spend contributions from individuals, who are expecting them to use it to run for office, on things that are not related to their campaign,” she added.
Parker’s personal 2021 financial disclosure did not show any income source beyond his $110,000 per year legislative salary, though he is the full owner of a four-bedroom house on Avenue H in his Brooklyn district and is part-owner of a second property in Queens.
The lavish spending could indicate a softer side to Parker, whose temper has landed him in hot water at times during his nearly two decades in elected office.
In 2019, Parker and progressive state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi got into a shouting match over an ethics complaint related to a social media post where Parker told a GOP operative to “kill yourself”.
Parker was also convicted of misdemeanor criminal mischief in 2010 after he damaged a camera belonging to a New York Post photographer outside his mother’s house.
The questionable expenditures are now giving Parker’s political opponents a new issue to leverage against him ahead of the primary, following criticism that he has taken funds from donors who have also given to Republicans in the past.
“Senator Parker is using Republican donor money to live the high life and enjoy a luxurious vacation in another state,” said Alexis, who is backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We can do better.”