Reclaim New York

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Reclaim New York (RNY) describes itself as a "conservative nonprofit" group with the stated intent of advancing a statewide, grassroots conversation about the future of New York, its economy and its people." RNY has been called a "front group" for the Mercer family[1] RNY is a part of "Trump's Army Battle[] for New York," according to WNYC.[2] RNY is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.

News and Controversies

Ties to President Trump's Team

According to WNYC, "Reclaim New York incorporated in 2013 as a tax-exempt nonprofit. Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and a mastermind behind Trump’s nationalist campaign, was a founding director. Laurence Levy, a longtime associate of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, filed the paperwork" [2]

In 2016, the lobbying arm of RNY, Reclaim New York Initiative (RNYI), incorporated. President Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was a founding director of RNYI.[2]

"Non-partisan" intentions

According to 'Politico, Reclaim New York's Senior Adviser Tom Basile says "we want to take the position that too often our policy debate is defined by the labels and the politics and not by what people are really looking for in New York State." [3] On the organization's website they proport to be non-partisan, RNY's Executive Director says, "parties, whether left or right, are not what we see as the answer.” [2]

But "filings submitted to the Internal Revenue Service last year list six directors, each of whom has connections to the Republican Party or conservative causes."[3]

"Stephen Bannon, the group’s vice chairman, is a radio host for Breitbart News; Leonard Leo is a former George W. Bush appointee who is currently executive vice president of the Federalist Society; and Lawrence J. Mone is president of the Manhattan Institute."[3]

According to WNYC, "reclaim’s staff and consultants suggest a staunch[ly] conservative agenda with a political edge."[2]

Ties to Cambridge Analytica

According to WNYC, "Reclaim’s offices were originally on the seventh floor of the old Charles Scribner’s Sons Building at 597 5th Ave. in Manhattan — the same floor as Cambridge Analytica." Both Cambridge Analytica and RNY are funded by the Mercer family. "Muir said Cambridge “worked on a project for our New York Transparency Project to help us broaden the reach on social media.” He said that was more than a year ago and Reclaim doesn’t “work directly with them anymore.”[2]

Undermining Government

Victor Feldman argues in the Berkshire Edge that, RNY "takes advantage of people who want to become involved in grassroots activism. It lures them in with an opportunity to file FOIL requests, and then uses laws that were meant to hold government accountable to undermine those very governments." [4]

"Front Group" for the Mercers

In May of 2017, RNY "published a post on its website slamming the New York Health Act, a bill to create a universal, single-payer healthcare system." Eyes on Ties, the online news site of Public Accountability Initiative & LittleSis, suggests that the Mercers influence led RNY to do so. "Besides running contrary to Robert and Rebekah Mercer’s extreme right-wing ideology, a universal healthcare plan in New York State has the potential to impact the family’s bottom line. Robert Mercer is the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund with significant investments in health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, two sectors to which universal healthcare presents a major threat."[1]

Ties to State Policy Network

RNY is listed as an associate member on the State Policy Network (SPN) directory. [5]

The Mercers are associated with SPN, other SPN related groups, and RNY. [6]

Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rob Galbraith Mercer family front groups attack universal healthcare bill in New York State Little Sis and Public Accountability Initiative & LittleSis, May 24, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Robert Lewis Trump's Army Battles for New York WNYC, Feb 12, 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 BILL MAHONEY Conservative nonprofit plans to expand statewide presence Politico, May 21, 2015
  4. Victor Feldman ‘Reclaim New York’: Mercer-funded, Bannon-guided campaign sows distrust of local government Berkshire Edge, Aug 26, 2017
  5. State Policy Network Freedom Center Missouri State Policy Network, accessed June 2018
  6. Sourcewatch Robert Mercer SPN Center for Media and Democracy, accessed June 2018.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

When asked about RNY association with the Mercers, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, an assistant professor at Columbia University researching how organized interest groups and donors shape public policy said “I think you're seeing more and more of these donors like those backing Reclaim New York, but also those participating in the Koch seminar, digging into all levels of politics across the country.” [1]

Funding

Muir has "declined to discuss" RNY's funding on multiple occasions, stating that the organization is "looking to create a larger grassroots donor base across New York.”

Reclaim New York is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of the IRS filings. The only known funder at this time is:

Mercer Family Foundation: $3.35 million (2014-2016)[2][3][1]

Core Financials

2016[4]

  • Total Revenue: $1,733,107
  • Total Expenses: $1,563,075
  • Net Assets: $451,978

2015[4]

  • Total Revenue: $1,250,000
  • Total Expenses: $1,046,573
  • Net Assets: $281,946

2014[5]

  • Total Revenue: $720,000
  • Total Expenses: $654,487
  • Net Assets: $78,519

2013[5]

  • Total Revenue: $40,00
  • Total Expenses: $26,994
  • Net Assets: $13,006

Personnel

Staff

As of July 2018:[6]

  • Brandon Muir, Executive Director
  • Mike Armstrong, Director of Field Operations
  • George Phillips, Southern Tier Regional Director
  • John Byrne, Central and Northern New York Regional Director
  • Domenick Cocchiara, Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator
  • Michael Watt, Long Island Regional Director
  • Jonathan Wiener, Senior Digital Director
  • Louis Bertolotti, Operations Coordinator
  • Elliot Mosher, Motion Graphics Designer
  • Lexi Faunce, Media and Communications Associate
  • Rebecca Toscano, Podcast Manager

Board of Directiors

As of July 2018:[6]

  • Rebekah Mercer: Chairman, Director, and Treasurer
  • Jennifer Mercer: Secretary, and Director,
  • Leonard Leo: Director
  • Brandon Muir: Director

Contact Information

Reclaim New York
597 5th Ave 11th floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (646) 781-7800
Website: https://www.reclaimnewyork.org/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reclaimnewyork/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@ReclaimNewYork
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reclaimnewyork/

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named WNYC
  2. Mercer Family Foundation, Mercer Family Foundation 2016 990, Mercer Family Foundation, November 15, 2017.
  3. Mercer Family Foundation, Mercer Family Foundation 2015 990, Mercer Family Foundation, accessed June 2018
  4. 4.0 4.1 Reclaim New York 2016 990 Self-reported IRS tax form, accessed June 2018
  5. 5.0 5.1 Citizen Audit 2015 990 IRS tax form, accessed June 2018
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named about