With a $1 million buy through its Political Action Committee, the New York City PBA is attacking Long Island Democratic State Senator Kevin Thomas.
Thomas is still in his first term after being elected in 2018. He is the first Indian-American to serve in the State Senate.
“The fact that they would throw so much money behind a Republican candidate who’s not even in the five boroughs signals to me that, one, they are trying to support the district where many of their members live, or, two, they are sending the message that they support a more conservative agenda within the Republican Party,” said Christina Greer of Fordham University.
PBA President Pat Lynch, who endorsed President Trump for re-election, declined to comment. But sources say the police union is angry with Thomas because he promised them not to vote for a law known as 50-a, which shielded police disciplinary records from public view.
Lawmakers finally voted to repeal 50a following clashes between police and demonstrators after the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Advocates had been pushing for its repeal for decades.
But Thomas was hardly the only Senator to vote for it.
“Just to single him out. I mean if you want to go after all 39 Senators, go after them," said Bishop Phillip Elliot of Hempstead Antioch Baptist Church. "But to go after one, it’s telling. It’s a cheap shot. And it’s a whole lot of money just to try and take him out.”
While the PBA makes money from contributions, it also takes union dues from its members, whose salaries are ultimately paid for by New York City taxpayers.
“Anyone who is interested in ethics and money would find that this, if you dig a little deeper, I’d be curious as to why it is that residents of New Yorkers City who pay the salaries of police officers who then have the PBA representing them and they support candidate outside of New York City, that seems to be a blatant conflict of interest,” added Greer.
According to the PBA, about 3,000 of its members reside in Thomas’s Long Island district. Thomas declined to defend himself either on the phone or on camera, and Senate Democrats refused to comment.