June 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A candidate running to represent the 26th Council District released an explosive Medium post Wednesday just days ahead of Election Day.
Jonathan Bailey, a former co-chair of the Queens Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and a candidate for District 26, argues that political opportunists are co-opting the progressive-left platform, without truly embodying the values of the movement.
He provided several examples of such, and pointed to a mayoral candidate and opponents in the D-26 race for not being true to the cause. He took aim at candidates who received the backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee (PAC)—yet presented it as though they had received AOC’s individual endorsement.
“Identifying the differences between leftists and liberal opportunists is a muscle that people will continue to develop — and one that was put to the test with Dianne Morales’ candidacy this year,” Bailey wrote. “The next decade is going to be full of politicians commodifying the politics of the left and trying to reinvent themselves as leaders of the latest wave of activists turned politicians.”
Mayoral candidate Dianne Morales’ campaign imploded last month when several staffers were allegedly fired for attempting to unionize.
Bailey fired a shot in his Medium post at his opponent Amit Bagga—a former deputy director of the city’s 2020 census campaign—whom he suggests is not a bona fide leftist. He questions Bagga’s position on the NYPD as well as his treatment of workers.
Bailey points to an open letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio that Bagga failed to sign last year.
The letter—signed by more than 700 former and current de Blasio staffers—was critical of the mayor’s handling of the demonstrations against police violence and the defund NYPD movement.
He also referred to an email alleging that Bagga, who has several high-profile progressive endorsements, mistreated his former colleagues during his time at City Hall.
Bailey in his Medium post linked to an anonymous and unverifiable email that was allegedly written by former Bagga staffers. It says that Bagga had created a toxic work environment and that he failed to stand up to the mayor on the issue of police brutality.
The e-mail is dated Feb. 25 and was sent from an anonymous Gmail account, [email protected]
Bailey said that the email “is an open secret in political circles” and has been circulating for months.
“People spoke about this like it’s just an open secret,” Bailey told the Queens Post.
He said that he decided to make it public, since no one else would.
Bailey thanked Thomas Muccioli, a paid consultant for D-26 candidate Julie Won, “for getting the NYC workers letter out there” in a tweet.
Muccioli, who has worked on Won’s campaign for months, didn’t respond for comment. It is unclear how widely Muccioli disseminated it and whether he could verify its content.
Thanks Thomas Muccioli for getting the NYC workers letter out there.
— Jonathan Bailey🌹 🚩🏴 He/Him (@Jonathan4Queens) June 16, 2021
But Bagga’s campaign views the e-mail and Medium post as nothing more than a coordinated attack by his opponents.
Several former staffers of Bagga’s have since reached out to the Queens Post to say that they admired him as a boss and that he supported them professionally and personally. They said they never personally witnessed or experienced his alleged behavior outlined in the email.
They said he chose not to sign his name on the de Blasio letter out of fear that the census effort would suffer. They noted that he didn’t want to create issues with City Hall, since the census effort was difficult enough due to the pandemic and President Donald Trump’s interference with the count.
A spokesperson for Bagga’s council campaign said he was proud of the work he did with his census team despite the challenges they faced.
“Amit is extremely proud of the incredibly difficult work done by the NYC Census 2020 team in the middle of COVID-19 and daily attacks from Donald Trump,” the spokesperson said. “Thanks to the team’s efforts on this existential exercise, we saved our state from losing a seat in Congress when we were supposed to lose two.”
Bagga’s campaign also said that the accusations in the email were not true.
“The false information presented in this anonymous letter [e-mail] is nothing more than a political attack by other candidates in this race, and we will not let this undermine NYC’s historic census campaign, or our goal to bring opportunity, dignity, and power to every single New Yorker.”
Bailey, however, didn’t just take aim at Bagga. He also said that candidates were using Ocasio Cortez’s “Courage to Change” PAC as a means to suggest they are true progressives.
AOC’s Courage to Change PAC, for instance, backed seven of the 15 candidates in the District 26 race, including both Bailey and Bagga.
However, Ocasio Cortez herself did not endorse anyone running in District 26—backing just three council candidates in Queens.
Bailey said that the PAC endorsements didn’t truly analyze candidates, but rather acknowledged those candidates who just “checked the boxes of the PAC’s progressive litmus test.”
He said that candidates are leveraging their signing of the CTC pledge as an AOC endorsement.
“It’s a very confusing time for the residents of our district,” he said.
Bailey, who works in Amazon logistics and co-founded Amazonians United NYC — finished his controversial Medium post with some words for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as well as for district voters.
“In conclusion, Jeff Bezos should leave Earth, you should consider ranking me first on June 22nd, and everyone should prepare for all the work that our movement is committed to continue, regardless of what happens next Tuesday.”