The debate over carriage horses has transitioned from your standard Liam Neeson protest into some potentially serious political subterfuge. According to the Daily News, the FBI is now investigating NYCLASS, the group fighting for the carriage ban and purveyors of the horseless eCarriages, for possible threats made against Christine Quinn during the mayoral race.
In the lead-up to the election, NYCLASS unleashed a campaign to defeat Quinn by painting her as a soulless animal-hater, in part because she did not want to rid Central Park of its horses. Soon after, the then-frontrunner Quinn started losing ground to carriage-ban supporter and now-mayor Bill de Blasio. We thought it was Dante’s Afro and a “tale of two cities,” but it might have been the long shadow of the anti-carriage horse lobby after all.
The FBI is looking into whether NYCLASS’s tactics crossed the line from good old-fashioned smear campaign to extortion. Sources say that NYCLASS hired a political consultant, Scott Levenson, to meet with Quinn aides to have a little chat about the mayoral hopeful’s stance on carriage horses. He allegedly suggested that if their boss didn’t change her mind, things might start getting, you know, a little difficult. The aides relayed the message to Quinn, but she did not budge. And then NYCLASS apparently made good on its promise.
Levenson had given credit to NYCLASS’s sad horse pictures for Quinn’s fall. “There is a direct correlation between the launch of our campaign and her numbers going down,” he told the Daily News in June, an interview he may regret if these allegations prove true. Either way, who knew a mode of transportation that only out-of-town tourists use had such reach.