Child abuse survivors PAC targets N.Y. state senator's seat in next election

By Kenneth Lovett (NY Daily News)
June 19, 2016

ALBANY - A political action committee created by an upstate investor and child sex abuse survivor has its first target - state Sen. Kemp Hannon.

Gary Greenberg said his Fighting for Children PAC is endorsing Democrat Ryan Cronin's challenge to Hannon (R-Nassau County).

Greenberg said he chose to target Hannon first for his stated opposition to a bill to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.

"It's black and white; if you're not going to support the bill, then you're for the predators," Greenberg said.

The PAC will donate a maximum $11,000 to Cronin's campaign, recruit volunteers to help him, and organize protests in the district against Hannon's opposition to the Child Victims Act.

Greenberg said he's going to be spending $100,000 of his own money and also raising funds for the PAC to use to target multiple state senators who have opposed the Child Victims Act.

In a statement to the News, Cronin, a lawyer and new father, vowed to make the Child Victims Act the first bill he sponsors and fights to pass if elected. He called it "reprehensible" that Hannon has opposed the legislation.
Portrait of Gary Greenberg a backer of the Child Victims Act on May 13, 2016. (Bryan Pace/for New York Daily News)

"The victims of such horrific crimes deserve the chance to seek justice," Cronin said.

Hannon, who was first elected to the Senate in 1989, told the News in April he opposes eliminating the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases and a one-year window to revive old cases contained in a bill pushed by Sen. Brad Hoylman.

He suggested the state should address getting counseling and other services to those who were abused.

Asked Friday about being the Greenberg PAC's first target, he said, "I have a campaign every two years. People are free to do what the law allows."

He argued he's not in a position in the Senate to move the bill and said he would be "sympathetic" to the legislation if it came to the floor for a vote.

"I'm not opposed to addressing the problem and getting relief for people," he said.

But Greenberg argues that Hannon has done nothing in the past decade to push any type of legislation to address the issue.

"He's been there so long and he's had so many opportunities to do something and he hasn't done it."

Despite a renewed push by advocates and a Daily News campaign, the Legislature finished its 2016 legislative session last week without enacting a new law to address child sex abuse victims.

The battle for control of the state Senate promises to be heated this fall.

The Democrats currently have a majority, but do not control the chamber thanks to six breakaway Dems.

One, Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), sits with the Republican conference.

Five others are part of an Independent Democratic Conference that since its formation in 2011 has aligned with the Republicans.