Abuse victim advocate backs Democratic senate candidates | Gaughran 2018
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Abuse victim advocate backs Democratic senate candidates

By: 
David Lombardo
Publication: 
Times Union
Jul
30
2018

Activist Gary Greenberg is betting on a Democratic controlled state Senate to provide aid to child victims of sexual abuse.

Legislation that would expand the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of certain sexual offenses and create a look back period for civil lawsuits has passed the state Assembly, but stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate. Greenberg had been working with Senate Republicans to enact a potential compromise, although it also failed to make it through the chamber’s committee process.

“I was shocked and disappointed Sen. [Catharine] Young’s bill was not let out of [the] Rules committee despite the [Republicans] having the votes to do so,” Greenberg said. “I unequivocally support [Senate Democratic Conference Leader] Andrea Stewart-Cousins as new majority leader [on] Jan. 1st, 2019.”

Speaking to the Times Union in May, Greenberg had felt like progress was being made on this issue because the Senate Republicans were willing to address compensation for victims. The bill from Young would end the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of certain sexual offenses and provide restitution for child victims using a $300 million asset forfeiture fund controlled by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

The Democratic-controlled state Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have offered their own, similar versions of a Child Victims Act, as it’s been called, but their proposals were left behind in the recent state budget negotiations with the Senate Republicans.

To advance his cause, Greenberg’s political action committee has begun backing Democratic candidates in key Senate seats, such as the races to replace retiring Republican senators William Larkin, John Bonacic and John DeFrancisco.

He has identified Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis, who is running against Republican Tom Basile for Larkin’s Hudson Valley seat, as the number one priority for his group.

The “Fighting for Children” PAC spent $7,000 on behalf of seven candidates in the past six months, according to campaign finance records. Greenberg launched a fundraising campaign to solicit contributions for the PAC.

The recipients of funding from his PAC were Skoufis, Jim Gaughran, incumbent John Brooks, Jeremy Cooney, Anna Kaplan, Kathleen Cleary and Louis D’Amaro. The group also backed Robert Kesten and Pramilla Malick, who are in Democratic primaries, and John Mannion.

Aside from financial support, the group is expected to organize rallies and engage in voter outreach to help candidates.

Speaking at a recent rally for Kesten, Greenberg said, “We have to change the senate. You have to change the names and the faces to get the laws that are needed in this state.”