2009-02-20 / Community

Holy Donation To Chapey Campaign

Bishop Gifts Candidate's Funds

Geraldine Chapey in a Wave file photo with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the St. Patrick's Day Parade two years ago. Geraldine Chapey in a Wave file photo with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the St. Patrick's Day Parade two years ago. The Catholic bishop who heads the Brooklyn and Queens Diocese recently made a rare political donation to a local City Council candiate whose mother has the power over a plan to turn several parochial schools into public charter schools, the Daily News reported on Tuesday.

Brandon Brosh, a Rockaway local and a reporter for the daily paper, said in an exclusive report that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio personally contributed $250 to Geraldine M. Chapey on January 7, a month before DiMarzio and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city plans to convert four struggling parochial schools into public charters.

Chapey's mother, Geraldine D. Chapey, is a member of the State Board of Regents, which has the power to approve charter schools and would have to approve the switch from parochial to public education.

Lew Simon, another candidate for the City Council seat vacated by

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., told Brosh that the contribution was "a conflict of interest"

"I've never seen the church speak out on a candidate before," Simon said.

Geraldine M. Chapey, the candidate, told Brosh that there was no connection between the contribution and the plan to turn the parochial schools into charters.

"The bishop is a citizen and he is participating in the democratic process," she said. "There was no discussion about charter schools. Absolutely and totally not. N.O. No discussion. That would be evil."

Geraldine D. Chapey, the Regent, did not return calls to Brosh for comment.

Brosh wrote in his story that, after an extensive check of the records of political donations, both here and in New Jersey, where DiMarzio previously served, show no indication that the bishop had ever donated to a political campaign.

The elder Chapey became a Regent in 1998.

Political insiders say that her appointment to the Board of Regents was part of a deal cut by the younger Chapey and then-Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton, in which Chapey, a Democratic District Leader, would vote to elevate Gregory Meeks to the House of Representatives after Floyd Flake vacated his seat, in return for the state job for her mother.

For his part, DiMarzio told Brosh that the donation was made as a public citizen.

"She's not the Regent," he said. "Her mother is.

She is a very good parishioner of the diocese."

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