Is Maya Wiley's campaign broke? NYC mayor hopeful owes 28 individuals and firms

Maya Wiley was slammed for leaving other businesses in debt, even forcing one to lay off staff as a massive debt unpaid

                            Is Maya Wiley's campaign broke? NYC mayor hopeful owes 28 individuals and firms
Maya Wiley was slammed for leaving other businesses in debt after her campaign (Michael M Santiago/Getty Images)

New York City Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley may not have won the Democratic primaries, but she's still making headlines nonetheless. It's not for her politics, but her campaign, which reportedly leaves behind a massive debt, that is yet to be paid. The situation is so dire, it has led to one business laying off employees as he waits for his five-figure invoice to be paid. 

Wiley's debt is an outlier, as most politicians tend to make vast fortunes from their efforts. In November 2020, a report warned that Donald Trump could use the money donated to his campaign to financially benefit his family.  In July that year, we reported now how Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could end up a millionaire by 40, just from her salary as a Congresswoman. 


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Of course, she isn't the only politician with debt. Back in December 2020, it was reported Washington DC was seeking funds for Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, as Donald Trump's bills remain unpaid from 2016. In fact, Trump has a long history of not paying vendors for hosting his rallies right from the 2016 campaign. It's unclear if those unpaid bills have forced businesses to lay off employees or shut down, but Wiley's debt certainly has a significant effect, not just on local businesses, but those out-of-state as well.

Supporters of mayoral candidate Maya Wiley attend a rally on June 21, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

How much does Wiley's campaign owe?

According to a new report in the New York Post, Wiley's campaign has a massive $1 million debt. Reportedly, she owes 28 different individuals and companies a total sum of $999,664.50. Some of the biggest debts are over $500,000 to GPS Impact, $40,320 to Bumperactive, and $211 to the United States Postal Service (USPS). Campaign finance records show almost all areas of Wiley's unsuccessful campaign leave behind debts.

GPS Impact is a Des Moines, Iowa-based political communications company that ran ads and fundraising efforts for Wiley. The Austin-based Bumperactive was responsible for creating campaign merchandise. It appears Wiley also owes the USPS for postage and a PO box rental. Wiley, who ran under a commitment to "save our small businesses" has ironically put many of them in jeopardy. Even more ironic, a Black-owned business is amongst those she owes money to.

The business did not want to be named because the vendor signed an agreement that bars him from speaking to the media. He anonymously told The Post, "I was waiting for (Wiley's campaign money) to be able to pay my staff. It means I have to make some cutting decisions when it comes to staff." Since the five-figure bill has not come due, the vendor has reportedly had to lay off two to three employees. 

Another vendor also came forward to speak to The Post, and slammed Wiley calling the debt "straight-up malpractice". The vendor said, "Some debt is ok. It’s not ok to owe $1 million." Interestingly, not everyone is furious about the delays in payment. The Post tracked down Shams DaBaron, a formerly homeless man who was responsible for "policy and fieldwork" for the Wiley campaign. Wiley only paid DaBaron the $4,000 he was owed on July 13, but he was upbeat nonetheless. "I’m Maya for life. I do what I do for the people that’s what matters. I don’t it for the money," he said.

Maya Wiley addresses supporters at an evening gathering on June 22, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)


Debts could take years to be repaid

The news was made after The Post was able to get hold of Campaign Finance Board (CFB) records. Wiley had to submit her records to the board, who will audit her campaign financials. That is a vital step since the audit will confirm how much Wiley can be reimbursed with public matching funds, which she can use to repay her debts. NYC has a public matching funds program, where the city matches small contributions from New York residents. Wiley can expect up to $8 for every dollar donated, which should help relieve some, but not all of her debt.

However, that audit could take years to complete. It is estimated to take at least two years before Wiley receives any money from the city. Without that cash, it will be very difficult for Wiley to pay off her debts, so there seems to be no immediate hope for the businesses she leaves stranded. That news has further infuriated some vendors. "They do not understand nor do they care whether vendors get paid," Paul Bader, owner of NY Prints LLC said. "All they care about is holding candidates to the fire and making sure they dot every “i” and cross every “t"," he added. Bader's firm is waiting for $23,000 in repayment, owed for their efforts in creating flyers, posters, and other literature for the Wiley campaign. 

Maya Wiley greets volunteers and supporters after voting early at Erasmus Hall High School on June 14, 2021, in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)


Wiley's team has tried to stem some of the anger, by putting the onus on the CFB. "The reality for this Black woman's campaign is that our principles paid off, but now we will carry debt on the books until the public matching program audits us to release $1M we have coming to us," she said in a Twitter thread on July 16. She added in another tweet, "With deep gratitude to our vendors, who believe in the mission & wait patiently for payment & to the reformers who brought us this critical public $ system, I say thank you! And look forward to supporting the critical public finance system so that women continue to win."



In the meantime, the debt is being viewed as an example of how Wiley would have run the city, had she won the elections. "It doesn’t speak well of her management skills," Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. "If you can’t run your campaign how can you run a city with a $100 billion budget?" he added. Wiley finished in third place in the Democratic primary. 

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