The anti-horse carriage group that spent nearly $1 million backing Bill de Blasio is now funding ads attacking Andrew Yang, who is running to replace the term-limited mayor.
Steve Nislick, Wendy Neu, and Jackie Kelman Bisbee — founders of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets or NYCLASS — have formed a new super PAC called New York Deserves Better.
They launched six-figures worth of TV and digital spots Monday targeting Yang’s positions on animal rights, raising taxes on the rich, and the $15 minimum wage.
“There’s no question that respect for animal rights goes hand in hand with respect for human rights,” Nislick said in a statement.
“And it’s clear that Andrew Yang is the wrong choice for mayor on both fronts. From supporting the abusive carriage horse industry to opposing tax increases on the wealthiest New Yorkers, Yang is simply unable and unwilling to stand up to the powerful forces that perpetuate cruelty in order to make a profit. New York deserves better than Andrew Yang,” Nislick said.
A rep for the group said Yang became a target after answering “No” to a question on a candidate questionnaire about Central Park’s horse carriage industry.
The question was: “Would you support legislation or efforts to strengthen welfare protections and increase the standards of care for New York City’s carriage horses?”
Yang is also opposed to ending the horse carriage industry and banning fur, according to the group.
In 2013 NYCLASS funded attack ads against Christine Quinn, the former City Council speaker, who was running for mayor against de Blasio shortly before the Democratic primary. The group later contributed $900,000 to his campaign and a nonprofit supporting his political agenda. The effort was widely thought to be a major factor in de Blasio’s victory.
NYCLASS had to pay $10,000 to a state watchdog in 2015 to settle ethics violations for failing to register as a lobbyist and file disclosure forms while petitioning de Blasio on issues relating to horse carriages.
State and federal authorities investigated de Blasio for a pay-to-play scheme involving NYCLASS. He was cleared of any charges but violated the the “intent and spirit” of election laws, Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. said in 2017.
A rep for NYCLASS said the group hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race, but may end up backing a candidate. The group is prepared to spend $1 million on anti-Yang ads, the rep said.
Yang ripped the move at a Bronx campaign event Monday.
“I understand that this is a group that’s very, very tightly aligned with Mayor De Blasio and this is a sign of why we need to turn the page from politics as usual, whereas you have entrenched interests and the current mayor and his allies trying to keep change from happening,” Yang said.
“They look up and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, if Andrew Yang becomes mayor, he doesn’t owe us anything. He doesn’t owe us any of the special interest anything.’ That scares them but that excites the people of New York. So I say if you put these special interests against the people of New York, I”ll take the people of New York anytime,” Yang said.
Additional reporting by Reuven Fenton