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Defunct under new state Senate unity deal, breakaway group sends fundraising appeal

ALBANY – Five days after a deal was struck to unite Senate Democrats after years of internecine warfare, would-be donors were being reminded Monday of a fundraiser this week to fund the campaign operations of the defunct Independent Democratic Conference.

The fundraising appeal helped to spread speculation, especially on social media sites, that the unification arrangement announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has some work still to go.

"Please join in a reception honoring the Independent Democratic Conference,'' says the invitation that was sent to potential donors for the fundraiser Wednesday night at a park in northern Manhattan. The minimum entry fee is $1,000, with those giving $5,000 getting to call themselves a “sponsor” of the event.

Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who heads the eight-member IDC group, said last week that while the group was shutting down he would keep open its campaign committee in order to finance any of the eight who face Democratic primaries this fall.

The fundraising appeal Monday morning was evidence of that position. The IDC, as a body, still remains alive per the rules of the state Senate. Klein, who is taking a deputy minority leader post under Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said he expects his group will be attending a closed-door conference of Senate Democrats when the Legislature returns next week to Albany following a two-week vacation.

The IDC at one point Monday appeared to still have a spokeswoman.

“It is the intention of Senator Klein to protect all the members of the former IDC in the upcoming primaries with all the resources he can muster,’’ said Barbara Brancaccio, who identified herself as a spokeswoman for the IDC group, when asked about the Wednesday fundraiser. She later reached out to say she was speaking on behalf of the Senate Independence Campaign Committee, which is the fundraising arm for senators who until last week were part of the IDC. That campaign committee is alive.

The campaign committee, through two accounts, had nearly $1.5 million in the bank when it last disclosed its finances in January with the state elections board.

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