Taxpayer funded campaign accused of fraudulently diverting funds to an off-the-books crony
Nomiki Konst (Image credit: Friends of Nomiki Konst campaign page)

Earlier this year, Nomiki Konst, a 2016 Bernie Sanders surrogate and former member of the Democratic National Committee's "Unity Reform Commission," launched a campaign for Public Advocate of New York City, casting herself as a second Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She ended up losing the 17-way race to city councilman Jumaane Williams.

Now, according to Politico, her campaign is facing an accusation of fraud over its use of public matching funds.

New York City election rules allow candidates to receive an 8-to-1 match of campaign contributions. But shortly after Konst's campaign received a $500,000 match from the city, Konst's former compliance officer Jason Coniglione reports the campaign received a mysterious $90,000 invoice for canvassing from a Louisiana company called Deep South Consulting, which the campaign manager did not recognize and which could not be accounted for given that the campaign already had an internal canvasser.

Coniglione ultimately filed a complaint in March alleging "massive fraud by the Campaign and Ms. Konst," suggesting that Konst's campaign was abusing New York City's public funds matching system to "funnel" money to Lonny Paris, a man whom Konst was allegedly using as an off-the-books campaign manager.

Konst denies all accusations, and shortly after the complaint was filled, she issued a statement accusing Coniglione of being a "sexual predator" who worked for the campaign to pursue her. Coniglione, in turn, denies this counter-accusation.

The public advocate office is meant to be a check on New York City's other branches of government. The office holds no specific powers, but is first in line to succeed the mayor and serves as a de facto bully pulpit. Previous public advocates have often gone on to serve in higher offices, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Attorney General Letitia James.