QUEENS, NY – The city’s campaign finance council alleges a former Queen’s Counsel member failed to pay thousands of dollars in fines tied to public funds, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Manhattan Civil Court.
The board says it owes former District 27 council member I. Daneek Miller more than $10,000 years after his successful re-election campaign in 2017, court records show.
The sum includes about $4,000 in matched campaign funds and $6,358 in penalties, both with interest, according to the lawsuit.
Miller — currently district chief for the Queens County Democratic Party — told Patch in an interview Wednesday that he was foiled by overly complicated fundraising regulations that he didn’t fully understand and that he planned to return the money.
“Campaign finance is not easy to manage,” Miller said in an interview with Patch. “The likelihood of you having trouble with campaign finance is going to happen, no matter how careful you are.”
Miller, campaign treasurer Maurice Harrison and the Friends of I. Daneek Miller committee are all named in the lawsuit, which centers around the $116,196 the Campaign Finance Council provided to the campaign in 2017.
The Campaign Finance Board argues that Miller agreed to certain rules when he accepted public funds, primarily that he disclose how the money was spent and on what, according to court records.
The BFC originally requested reimbursement of $105,181 in matching funds and $7,153 in penalties, but this was amended after receiving documentation from Miller’s team on August 21, 2019.
The complaint also said he failed to repay $4,303 in funds on Nov. 10, 2021. He also failed to respond to correspondence until he received additional refund notices on Feb. 24, April 15, and 14. June.
“Ultimately, we returned the receipts, but if they thought it was inappropriate,” Miller said.
Miller said the issue was related to laptops and printers purchased for canvassing in the final weeks of the campaign, which the former Council member said he needed and the Campaign Finance Council said. he didn’t need it.
“They said, ‘You bought these things for the last two weeks of the campaign, but you didn’t need anything,'” Miller said.
“It’s the last week that really counts, when you vote,” Miller said. “So you’re spending money and not leaving money on the table when you know you have to campaign for a general election as well.”
“Given the amount of money that was collected and the amount of money that was disputed, we ended up with the receipts,” Miller added. “But whatever confirmation they were asking for, they thought it wasn’t valid.”
In 2013, Miller, then a transit union leader, defeated five candidates to run as the Democratic candidate for City Council District 27 and won the general election with more than 96 percent of the vote. In 2017, he beat perennial contender Anthony Rivers, a former U.S. Marine and retired police officer, in a landslide victory.
Miller said his team, whom he trusts, took some of the courses and did their due diligence, but some of them were “beyond their abilities.”
“We’re going to fundraise and make sure we pay it all back,” Miller added. “Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have seen it as necessary. We had the means to raise funds with me as a holder and my experience in the work.