Mittman, Group Clash Over Cash
By Joe Marvilli
While a local political group has accused a former Congressional candidate of owing two of his campaign workers money, the candidate has shot back that the claims are false.
COPOLA USA, a Latino political organization based in Queens and Brooklyn, sent a communication to the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 18, calling for a "stern punishment" of Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside physician who ran in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional district last year.
According to the political group, workers and service providers are still awaiting payment for their assistance during his campaign. The notice sent to the FEC is the culmination of two separate complaints filed last summer against Mittman by Augusto Sevilla of iMedia 225 and driver Elliot Arroyo.
A spokesperson for Mittman denied the claim, stating "It's completely bogus, it's false, it's fiction."
iMedia 225 stated that they made two campaign videos for Mittman, which were used on his website and through campaign email blasts. The media company is still owed $9,944 for the productions, according to the complaint Sevilla registered with the F.E.C. The document also states that Mittman was sent invoices on June 25, July 3, July 17 and Aug. 3. A Demand for Payment letter was sent on Aug. 5. According to complaint, none of these resulted in payment, which led to the filing on Aug. 14.
Mittman's spokesperson refuted the complaint, saying that the videos were not produced by Sevilla and that he failed to deliver on the job he was paid for, which was to get the campaign a presence on Facebook and set up a credit card campaign donation system on Mittman's website.
"He said he did two videos. He didn't produce any videos," the spokesperson said. "We ended up doing our own Facebook. We were complaining, 'Hey, what's going on with the credit card?' But he got paid anyway!"
In the complaint filed on Aug. 27, Arroyo said that Mittman owed him $300 for working as a driver for the doctor's campaign RV, with shifts lasting up to 14 hours. He also said that Mittman failed to disclose an expenditure of $3,800 made to Port Motors Daily Rentals/Cruise America of 1045 Northern Blvd. in Roslyn, for his campaign truck. Arroyo went to Mittman's office on July 3 and Aug. 20 to collect his payment, but said he received nothing.
Mittman's spokesperson countered that Arroyo was paid in full and the RV was registered.
COPOLA had previously endorsed Mittman on his Congressional run last year, but has changed its tune.
"His actions are shameful and despicable. He demonstrated penny pinching pettiness and great disregard for fellow community members," Miguel Lopez Rodriguez, President of COPOLA, stated.
Mittman's spokesperson said that their camp believed the FEC complaints were all written by the same person in an attempt to create a false prejudice against the Latino community.
"These complaints are not authored by these people. They're all the same. They're trying to make it look like there's some bias here," she said. "The campaign did everything we believed we needed to do. These people were fully paid. They're using the [media] as a pawn."
Mittman lost the primary election held on June 26, 2012. The nomination went to U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside), who went on to defeat Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in November.
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at email@example.com.