One of the Democratic mayoral candidates, C. Virginia Fields, called on Mayor Bloomberg yesterday to investigate a claim that the Independence Party leader, Lenora Fulani, abused children.
"Mayor Bloomberg must immediately investigate these heinous accusations against Lenora Fulani," Ms. Fields said in a statement. "If the accusations regarding the abuse of children have merit, Bloomberg must sever his ties with Ms. Fulani and withdraw all city funding provided to Fulani for the All Stars Project."
Fields campaign aides sent the statement to reporters late yesterday afternoon, the same day the New York Post published a report about a complaint filed with state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer that claimed Ms. Fulani and her program had intimidated and abused children.
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, Stuart Loeser, dismissed Ms. Fields's call for an investigation by the mayor. "The Fields campaign is either shamelessly and baselessly grandstanding or saying that they don't trust Eliot Spitzer to get the job done right," he said.
Mr. Spitzer's office is responsible for regulating charities in New York State.
Yesterday, when he was asked about the Post article at a morning press conference, Mr. Bloomberg, who accepted the Independence Party's endorsement in 2001 and has personally donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the party, said he wasn't jumping to any conclusions.
"There was an allegation. The attorney general is perfectly capable of looking and seeing if there's any substance," he said. "If there is, I'll then look at it."
In a statement sent by e-mail, Ms. Fulani said: "I welcome any and all scrutiny of the program because what we've created is remarkable. That's why it's so popular in the poor communities and why it's been endorsed by such experts as Harvard's Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. It's a shame that Virginia Fields in trying to gain political advantage off of the welfare of our kids."
Ms. Fulani has come under fire in the past for making anti-Semitic comments, and the mayor has denounced those comments but said they are not representative of the party she leads.