Anthony Weiner is having such a hard time generating support for his limp campaign that he has resorted to paying a rent-a-crowd firm to provide “supporters” for his events, The Post has learned.
Some of the gung-ho Weiner crowds, including at the Aug. 11 Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan, were really actors who were paid $15 an hour by the California firm Crowds on Demand, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal.
The contract came, according to the New York Post, after Weiner’s on-line relationship with Sydney Leathers became public. Hecklers began dogging Weiner on the campaign trail and New Yorkers abandoned his campaign in droves. Weiner needed to put on a false front showing that he had some remaining popularity, and with few volunteering for that effort, the only option left was to stage that support.
Actually, what the Weiner campaign wanted was a crowd of thugs to harass the hecklers, but even Crowds On Demand refused to go that far, according to the Post:
Initially, Weiner’s associates asked the company to try and confront hecklers, but the company — fearing liability if there was violence — refused, the source said.
Weiner denies hiring his crowds, but his campaign has been caught astroturfing in its ads. The Post took a close look at the testimonials from a TV spot now airing in the Big Apple showing regular New York voters endorsing Weiner. That’s what employees tend to do, though:
In a 30-second ad, 18-year-old Joel Acevedo from Staten Island looks at the camera and proclaims, “As an 18-year-old, first time voting, I decided to vote for the future of New York.” He never mentions he is an unpaid campaign volunteer, but lists Weiner for Mayor as an employer on LinkedIn.
Another person featured in the ad, Mary Elizabeth Elkordy of Queens, used to work as a fund-raising intern for Weiner’s congressional office from December 2008 to June 2009.
Had the Weiner campaign been more honest, the second endorsement might have had more impact. If Elkordy had argued that she worked as an intern for Weiner and could testify to his skills and talents as a public servant and that those elevate Weiner above his scandals, perhaps it might have caused a few voters to reconsider. As it is, though, this looks like more dishonesty from a politician who seems to have trouble being honest with anyone — including himself.
JWF offers us this glimmer of hope:
The primary is September 10, so we don’t have much longer to kick this tool around.
Perhaps, but this has certainly been instructive — and necessary, in case Weiner decides to try again for a higher office than mayor.