Super PACs Are Raising Millions to Sway the N.Y.C. Mayor’s Race

The group recently spent roughly $200,000 on a special election for a Council seat in Queens, helping a former councilman, Jim Gennaro, defeat several rivals including Moumita Ahmed, a progressive whose views the group called “extreme” and “reckless.”

“It completely changed the race in the final two weeks,” Ms. Ahmed said. It also turned Mr. Ross, who has supported both former President Donald J. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, into even more of a boogeyman for the left. (Mr. Ross, who owns a stake in Equinox, ignited anger among Democrats in 2019 when he hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Trump.)

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Our City’s launch video juxtaposes a picture of Mr. Ross at Hudson Yards with an apparently homeless person sleeping on a cardboard box as a narrator talks about inequality. Mr. Ross declined to comment on the video.

The New York Immigration Coalition is also planning to mount an independent expenditure committee, according to Murad Awawdeh, the group’s interim co-executive director.

“What progressive organizations and progressives have realized is that super PACs are going to be part of the narrative, and until we have real reform that outlaws them, we have to be able to play the game and participate in that process,” Mr. Awawdeh said.

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In New York City, candidates running for mayor, and donors seeking to support them, are subject to strict limitations: Individuals who are doing business with the city can contribute up to $400 to a mayoral candidate; other donors are subject to caps varying between $2,000 and $5,100. Wealthy individuals and corporations can make unlimited contributions to a super PAC under New York and under federal law, according to Seth Agata, a former counsel in the governor’s office who helped write New York’s independent expenditure regulations.

Even as more super PACs are expected to form in the weeks ahead, it remains to be seen whether outside spending eclipses the nearly $16 million spent during the 2013 New York City elections.

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