Anthony Weiner’s road to the New York mayoral primary got a bit rockier after reports surfaced in The New York Post that the former congressman was paying actors to boost the crowds at his campaign events.
On Wednesday, the Post reported that Weiner’s campaign was working with Crowds on Demand, a company that specializes in providing crowds of actors for a price.
According to the Post’s source, the campaign reached out to the California business after new revelations of inappropriate behavior surfaced. Sydney Leathers, an Indiana woman who had been in contact with Weiner even after his resignation from Congress, came forward earlier this summer. His campaign has been on the defensive ever since, losing standing in the polls and trying to regain its footing after the rehabilitation narrative had been shown false.
One of the most recent instances of the campaign’s use of “rent-a-crowds” came in the Dominican Day Parade on August 11. In that event, actors were paid $15 an hour to provide enthusiastic backing for the candidate.
Crowds on Demand did not comment, but Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan told the Post that they had “never heard of this company and certainly never used them.”
“We are proud we’ve always had the biggest and most fired-up crowds,” she also said. “That’s enthusiasm the other campaigns just can’t buy.”
The Post’s source, however, said that the Santa Monica-based Crowds on Demand was tasked with providing people who could act as if they were “either supporters or people who met him and became supporters as a result of that encounter.” Besides bolstering the number of existing supporters, the goal was apparently also to show that people skeptical of his candidacy would be convinced by meeting and talking to him.
Weiner could use the show of support given that he’s gone from frontrunner to fourth place in the crowded mayoral field in less than a month, according to the most recent poll from Quinnipiac University. New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has the backing of 36% of likely Democratic voters, while only 8% say they would vote for Weiner. A month ago, Weiner was sitting at 26% and de Blasio 15%, showing just how much the race has flipped in such a short time period.
After the report was published Wednesday morning, Weiner tweeted that it was a hoax and questioned whether the Post would retract its story.