NYPIRG (New York Public Intrest Research Group) is a New York-based non-profit which describes itself as an organization whose mission is to “strengthen democracy, fight for the rights of consumers and voters, and protect the environment and public health.” It’s most famous alumnus is President Barack Obama, who worked as a campus organizer for NYPIRG in the 1980s. The following blog is a testimonial and a call to action.
Rob Kornblum*, a former supervisor and legal counsel at NYPIRG, is a serial liar and a vicious manipulator. He’ll lie straight to your face because he is a man who lacks basic human decency (and he thinks it’s funny). Kornblum ran NYPIRG’s NYC fundraising operation like a boiler room pit boss, and he and his staff worked hard to silence anyone who pointed out their transparent awfulness and their criminal mistreatment of workers. The reason I know all of this is because I worked for Rob Kornblum at the NYC NYPIRG office during the Spring and Summer of 2016 before I quit in July of that year to join a political campaign (My sources indicate Kornblum recently left NYPIRG where he had worked for nearly a decade).
But this isn’t just about Kornblum’s terrible leadership and his mistreatment of his workforce. This is also about the institution that is NYPIRG, and how it has created and continues to create generations of conmen like Rob Kornblum, people who claim to be progressive but then completely abandon progressive values in the pursuit of organizational and personal goals.
NYPIRG’s mostly college student workforce is used and emotionally abused, resulting in a nearly 90% turnover week to week (My estimation and I’m being generous). They refuse to pay their fundraisers minimum wage, instead only compensating these employees a percentage of the money they are able to raise on a given day. There are plenty of times when their workers will fundraise outside all day for them, engaging in labor which is tough both emotionally and physically, and these workers will end up getting paid nothing. The stories of how NYPIRG screws its workforce over are endless (many of which were told to me by depressed and teary-eyed young coworkers over beers after work).
NYPIRG needs to be investigated by the New York Attorney General for various offenses with a focus on their mistreatment and underpayment of the NYPIRG workforce. The most likely reason they haven’t been investigated by the AG already is because their leader Blair Horner* (whose first name NYPIRG staff creepily chant in unison at statewide meetings) is well connected with the New York State Democratic Party and I wouldn’t be surprised if he uses his influence to quash any attempts at oversight.
Blair Horner cannot run such a toxic organization and honestly claim to hold progressive values. The man is a fraud and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his scammy non-profit going. Do not donate money to them - they will use almost all of it to pay their staff (from what I have seen and been told) - and they do not have the resources to make a significant impact in the various ways they claim (claims which can change by the second).
At this point, NYPIRG is just trying to keep the lights on, lights that should’ve been turned off permanently years ago. It's now up to the AG to do what's right and end the scam that is NYPIRG.
*I attempted to make contact with Rob Kornblum via text and phone call but he has yet to respond.
*I attempted to contact Blair Horner via Twitter but he has yet to respond.
Postscript: This piece on NYPIRG, written thirty years ago, perfectly encapsulates the awful culture and the surreal experience of working for this sham of a non-profit. Very little has changed in all that time, a clear indication that they will not modify their practices until the New York Attorney General takes action and investigates NYPIRG.
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