ITHACA, N.Y. — Reclaim New York, a “non-partisan” but Conservative-led organization, will host an event Wednesday in Downtown Ithaca to discuss New York’s “affordability crisis and corruption.”

Communications Director Doug Kellogg said the event is a data-driven look at information — such as taxes, income, cost of living, etc. — and what it costs for a person to essentially “wake-up” in the Ithaca area.

“We have completed an affordability crisis report for Tompkins County,” Kellogg said.

The report will not be publicly released until late Thursday morning.

Binghamton-area native George Phillips is slated to lead the discussion, combining local and statewide data to discuss affordability issues in New York, Kellogg said.

The event titled “The Affordability Crisis: How Do We Keep Our Neighbors From Leaving?” is happening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Coltivare, located at 235 S. Cayuga St. in Ithaca. The event is free and open to the public. The event states that people can learn how to fix the Empire State, “making it easier to live, work, and do business here.”

The Reclaim New York website states that the organization is a non-partisan, non-profit that “empowers citizens, through education and civic engagement, to make New York a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Though the organization bills itself as non-partisan, it has clear ties to conservative causes. The organization is led by exclusively Conservative board members.

Kellogg said despite the Conservative board members, the organization remains non-partial.

“Yeah, of course it’s going to be a non-partisan event,” he said, citing the organization’s non-profit status. “I think people are sometimes looking for more, like there’s something else going on, and that’s just not the case.”

He said board members “lend their expertise” to the organization during meetings but are not part of the day-to-day operations of Reclaim New York.

“They’re certainly going to weigh-in on those meetings — on what we’re doing — and offer any advice,” he said.

The following people are publicly listed as being on the Reclaim New York Board of Directors:

Chairman, Director, and Treasurer Rebekah Mercer & Secretary, and Director, Jennifer Mercer

The Mercer sisters founded Reclaim New York in 2013 with Stephen Bannon, current White House Chief Strategist. Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, an Alt-Right media organization. Mercer also provided funding for Breitbart, which the family now partly owns.

The Chicago Tribune reported, “The wealthy New York family and the former investment banker-turned-media executive collaborated on at least five ventures between 2011 and 2016, according to a Washington Post review of public filings and multiple people familiar with their relationship.”

The Mercers and their wealthy father, Robert Mercer, have donated millions toward supporting the political campaigns of conservative candidates, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and  Arthur Robinson, a failed Oregon Congressional nominee who says climate science is fake and collects large quantities of urine, claiming “his work holds the key to extending the human life span and wresting control of medicine from what he calls the “medical-industrial-government complex.”’

Mercer and her family were such large supporters of Trump’s presidential run — spending around $20 million on behalf of Trump, though not directly donated to his campaign—  the president-elect attended a costume party hosted by her family in December.

Rebekah Mercer was also part of Trump’s 16-person transition executive committee, which advised him on Cabinet appointments and other White House organizational needs.

Rebekah Mercer, who is the most publicly political members of the family, reportedly attended Cornell University before transferring to Stanford.

Director Leonard Leo

Leonard Leo is the the executive vice president of right-wing organization, the Federalist Society, which he has been affiliated with for almost three decades. According to the organization’s website, the group is comprised of people who share conservative and libertarian perspectives that focus on reforming policy to more prominently embrace “individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.”

Business Insider recently reported that Leo “has likely done more than any other person to shape the Supreme Court and the federal bench — and as a result, the future of law and policy in the United States.”

Related: The most powerful recruiter in the world: How one man handpicked one-third of the Supreme Court

For instance, while Trump was campaigning for president, he asked Leo to make a public list of possible Supreme Court Justice nominees. His list included 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in as the Supreme Court’s newest justice in early April.

Leo also played a role during George W. Bush’s presidency in facilitating the nominations of conservative Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Director Brandon Muir

Not a lot of information about Brandon Muir is available about his time before becoming the Director at the non-profit, where he has been employed since 2014.

He frequently speaks publicly on behalf of the organization and is responsible for “leading initial policy research and building Reclaim’s core operations,” his biography on the Reclaim New York website says. 

He reportedly was previously involved in the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. and Latin America. His background is in consulting. He worked at national business advisory firm Deloitte Consulting.

Featured image from Reclaim New York’s homepage.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.