Reversal Of Fortune

Reversal Of Fortune

New York State Assemblyman and former kingmaker Dov Hikind survived a criminal indictment and massive legal fees — and still came out in the black to the tune of $400,000, thanks in part to a bang-up legal defense fund.

Now, Noach Dear, his longtime rival for top Orthodox pol in Brooklyn, has been hit hard, thanks to problems he has had with federal campaign finance law.

Dear, a Borough Park Democrat, raised more than $1 million in his losing primary race for Congress last year. But it turns out almost a third of the contributions were improper and must be returned.

According to some experts, that’s an awful lot of money gone wrong to blame on simple oversight. A Daily News article last week raised the possibility that, given the scope of the violations, Dear could face a hefty fine from the Federal Elections Commission.

That would hit Dear hard now; with the obligation to return more than $300,000 in improper contributions, the erstwhile candidate’s 1998 campaign is now $120,830 in debt.

Asked about all this, Dear’s spokeswoman, Kim Baldwin, said simply, “We’re working with the FEC to resolve this.” Baldwin said Dear was in meetings all day Tuesday and unavailable for questions.

Many of Dear’s bad contributions seem to be the result of donors exceeding the $1,000 limit allowed in any given race — in some cases by as much as $8,000. “The FEC will probably have to review this and act,” said Sheila Krumholz, deputy director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors campaign contributions. “It’s a big story, given that this is one-third of his take.”

Dear may still place hope in the FEC’s record for leniency, Krumholz suggested. “They do have this history of low-balling penalties,” she said.

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