Amber Adler, a Democrat, and Igor Kazatsker, an independent on the “Team Trump” line, are theoretically running against each other — and against incumbent Republican Inna Vernikov in this month’s City Council race for South Brooklyn’s 48th District.

But the two campaigns share the same attorney, and have given thousands of dollars to the same campaign consulting firms — sparking concerns from election experts and complaints from Vernikov about the true purpose of their political operations.

Campaign finance records show that a consulting group called “APOC NY Inc.” scored more than $14,000 and $27,000 from Adler and Kazatsker respectively. Another group, North Shore Strategies LLC, drew more than $31,000 from Adler and $4,000 from Kazatsker, which came when he was running in the Republican primary against Vernikov. 

Adler’s campaign scored more than $108,000 in public matching dollars, thanks to a city program that gives candidates money to amplify small individual donations. Kazatsker’s team scored more than $51,000 through the same program.

Meanwhile, both campaigns are paying the same election attorney, Aaron Foldenauer, as the New York Post previously reported. Foldenauer declined to comment for this story.

Vernikov, an incumbent currently facing charges for allegedly bringing a gun to a protest, has accused Kazatsker of participating in a vote-splitting scheme to help the Democrat.

“People need to be made aware that this is a made-up line with no connection to Trump,” she told The New York Post.

The candidates did not respond to questions from THE CITY. 

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant not involved in the Council race, said the shared expenditures were not a “good look.”

“It looks like the consultants are not really running campaigns,” he said. “It looks like they’re just trying to make more money. Why? They’re competing against themselves.”

Both consulting firms defended their practices.

In a statement, Brendan Klein, president of North Shore Strategies, noted that his firm worked on two distinct petition collection programs, which they “conducted at different periods of time.”

“At the conclusion of the 5-day petitioning program, we had no further communication with the Igor Kazatsker campaign,” said Klein.

Anzhela Pinkhasov, the force behind APOC NY Inc, said her work for both was perfectly legal. 

Campaign expenditure records show that Adler and Kazatsker both made payments to APOC NY Inc. that continued after June of this year when Kazatsker, a Republican, lost to the incumbent Vernikov and began running on a “Team Trump Party” independent line — making him a general opponent of Adler’s.

“My company provides rights of services for all candidates,” said Pinkhasov. “We do not discriminate, we do not pick and choose and you see no conflict of interest given that they’re both running for the same.”

Adler Straw Donors

In recent weeks, city election regulators have also been investigating Adler’s campaign for alleged straw donations, as City & State first reported.

In October, the Campaign Finance Board interviewed at least two people listed as donors to Adler as part of an investigation into allegedly falsified donations.

Both of those people have ties to North Shore Strategies, and told THE CITY that they never donated to Adler and don’t support her.

“I feel like my consent was stolen. I feel like my data privacy was breached, and it’s a violation because I never would have endorsed this candidate and now it’s public record that I did,” said a former North Shore staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.

In response, Klein said that his firm was committed to the integrity of the campaign finance system and is assisting regulators. 

“Immediately upon learning that the Adler campaign had improperly attributed donations to straw donors, we notified the Campaign Finance Board and terminated our relationship with the campaign manager and the Adler campaign,” said Klein, who subsequently clarified that the campaign manager was an independent contractor for North Shore.
In a text message, that person claimed he was not involved “in finances” and said that he had unilaterally terminated his relationship with Adler’s campaign after learning of the “allegations of improper conduct.” 

“North Shore and Amber were senior to me, and would have had to be aware, and have authority, over any impropriety,” said the former North Shore contractor, who asked for anonymity citing concerns of professional backlash. “Any questions regarding donations would need to be directed to them.”

Izzy Weiss, an aide to Councilmember Vernikov, said the allegations merit a full investigation.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s clearly fire,” said Weiss. “This is something the Campaign Finance Board should absolutely investigate. The people that have donated their hard earned money deserve to know where it has gone.”

The Campaign Finance Board declined to comment on its investigation of the Adler campaign. But in a press release on Monday, the board reported that it had denied public matching dollars to Adler for its November distribution period.

Pinkhasov, the consultant whose firm was paid both by Kazatsker and Adler, claimed she had affidavits about straw donations made to the Vernikov campaign. But when THE CITY asked to see those affidavits, she did not respond.