Money problems are once again plaguing freshman Assemblywoman Pam Harris (D–Coney Island).
First critics eyed her seemingly cozy relationship with the non-profit she founded before taking office and which operates out of her house.
And she released a letter on Aug. 2 — hot on the heels of a Daily News article highlighting her 2013 bankruptcy and her currently owing more than $30,000 in back taxes — explaining a 2006 breast cancer diagnosis, her husband’s workplace injury, and damage Hurricane Sandy wrought on her Neptune Avenue home in 2012 put her in arrears.
Harris and her husband are trying to make good after a string of bad luck, she said.
“Left with no other options after so many brutal financial hits, my husband and I made the difficult decision to declare chapter 13 bankruptcy. Contrary to the New York Daily News’s hurtful insinuations, we were determined to pay back the debts we owed and immediately set up a repayment plan,” Harris wrote. “Since filing, we’ve made payments on our mortgage and to the many creditors who helped us survive years of unforeseen illness, injury, and natural disaster.”
She reported she and her husband received between $10,000 and $40,000 in rental income in 2015, according to financial disclosures she’s required to file as an elected official. The News implied the money came from rent charged to Coney Island Generation Gap — the non-profit she ran out of her home, and which she denied ever charging to use the space.
Harris told this paper the cash came from a tenant renting a room in her single-family home.
But she had trouble explaining how long the tenant had lived there and what she was paying. First Harris said the woman paid rent continuously since before 2012, but when this paper pointed out that the rental income does not appear on income statements she had to file during bankruptcy, she walked it back and said the tenant left after Hurricane Sandy and came back in 2015.
Harris said the woman pays $6,000 annually, but the assemblywoman’s 2015 financial disclosure states she and her husband received $10,000–$40,000 in rental income that year — that was a filing error that she will correct, she said.
Harris won the seat in a 2015 special election. She is running for re-election in November and faces a primary challenge in September.
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Harris and allies in the 46th Assembly District picked up a few endorsements in their battle against a slate of Bay Ridgites who are vying for positions in the Coney-to-Ridge district.
District leaders in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay’s 45th Assembly District, Ari Kagan and Margarita Kagan (no relation), endorsed Harris for assembly, incumbent Dilia Schack for district leader, and Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) for male district leader. Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) also endorsed Treyger and Harris.
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And there is a whole lotta action in Canarsie’s 59th Assembly District.
Longtime district leader Roberta Sherman is stepping down, and Sue Ann Partnow is challenging Canarsie community leader Mercedes Narcisse for the spot. Partnow has the backing of party boss Frank Seddio’s Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club.
And freshman Assemblywoman Jaime Williams may face two challengers in the Sept. 13 primary, according to records filed with the board of elections — Pastor Nicholson Pierre and Spencer Cineus filed to run for the assembly seat in the 59th. Pierre is also challenging Seddio for district leader, records show.