Reclaim Is Alt-Right

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On Jan. 23, Reclaim New York gave a presentation at the Port Washington Public Library. Reclaim’s goals seem noble. They claim to promote government transparency so citizens can monitor spending.

Reclaim does this by filing Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requests with towns, school boards and public libraries demanding spending information in specific formats. If the response is late or wrongly formatted, Reclaim sues—costing governments thousands in legal fees and hundreds of personnel hours.

In truth, Reclaim is a cover for the “alt-right” movement’s war on government. And despite their apparent devotion to transparency, when asked to disclose who their own sponsors were, they refused. We know, however, that Reclaim’s sponsors include billionaire Trump supporter Rebekah Mercer and Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon, who use Reclaim as a tool for advancing their anti-government agenda.

Well-attended, the meeting elicited curiosity. Some were interested in Reclaim’s message. Many were concerned that Reclaim’s tactics waste our precious tax dollars.

Port Washington has excellent schools and libraries. We do not need outside organizations interfering with our already financially transparent institutions. Reclaim and the “alt-right” do not share Port Washington’s values. I promise to be vigilant against the threat Reclaim poses to Port and urge my neighbors to do the same.

—Laurie Radler

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Ms. Radler, there are a number of factual inaccuracies with your letter that you should definitely address.

    1) Reclaim did not – and cannot – sue governments for formatting FOIL responses incorrectly. Reclaim also did not sue anyone for submitting a request late. You made up both of those claims without any justification whatsoever.

    2) Reclaim does not submit FOIL requests to public libraries. Again, you crafted this falsehood.

    3) Among the 6 government entities that Reclaim sued on Long Island, all of them could have prevented a lawsuit by simply obeying the law. Complying with our FOIL request would have taken mere minutes. Instead, those entities chose to violate the law.

    4) As a 501(c)3 organization, Reclaim New York does not disclose donors. That is common practice for 501(c)3s. Reclaim’s board of directors can be found on their website. If a donor wishes to make their giving public, that’s their prerogative – not ours.

    5) The public has a legal right to government transparency. Their tax dollars pay for government services. There is no public right to the names of donors to 501(c)3 organizations.

    6) You stated that the Port Washington area has no need for Reclaim because your local governments are “already financially transparent.” We should point out that the Village of Baxter Estates, where the event was held, did not respond to Reclaim’s FOIL request. We should also point out that Reclaim recently worked with the Town of North Hempstead to put their checkbook online. Residents in your community are benefitting from the work Reclaim is doing.

    7) You’re free to label Reclaim whatever you wish – but the proof otherwise is in the pudding with regard to our programming. Reclaim New York works to make government more transparent and life more affordable for New Yorkers by getting citizens educated and engaged. We work with towns, villages, and school districts to help create transparency and address high costs of living. Calling Reclaim “alt-right” or “anti-government” won’t prevent us from working hand-in-hand with governments to make life better all New Yorkers.

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