Where Collins & Paladino Innocently Discuss #NY26 with David Bellavia

24 Mar

Two Saturdays ago, the Tea NY faction of the local tea party movement held a candidate’s forum for the NY-26 race. The two candidates who showed up were crazy xenophobe Jack Davis and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia. Davis was set to speak at 3:00 at the Comfort Zone Coffee Shop on Elmwood, and Bellavia was set to speak at 4:00.

The head of the Tea NY group, Rus Thompson, was running the program. He knew that top Erie County Republicans wanted to talk to the Batavian Bellavia and try to find out why he was ruining Jane Corwin’s sure thing, and hopefully get him to pull out of the race. Rus, seeing an opportunity with Bellavia in Buffalo, took it upon himself to contact Carl Paladino and Chris Collins to come and have a friendly conversation with Bellavia.

When Davis got through pontificating about how immigrants are ruining America, Rus summoned Bellavia to come in to start his presentation, and says he told Bellavia at that time that Carl and Collins were waiting to speak with him. Bellavia reportedly disputes this; it was relayed to Glenn Gramigna that he felt completely blindsided and cornered. Bellavia’s camp says that, when he was done with his presentation, Rus’ wife Jul convinced him to hang around and have a cup of coffee, at which point he was led to a back room where Paladino and Collins were waiting. Rus tells me that it wasn’t exactly like that; that Bellavia knew the two were there, and there was some discussion with Bellavia’s people about who could attend the meeting.

Gramigna reports that Paladino and Collins, (whom he doesn’t name) tried to convince Bellavia to leave the NY-26 race, going so far as to allegedly offer him an Assembly seat – presumably Steve Hawley’s in A-139. Rus says that this never happened; that it was a friendly conversation, and that the only thing Collins and Paladino told Bellavia about the NY-26 race was that Corwin would spend millions. Bellavia acknowledged that fact, and explained that he was in this race because ECGOP Chair Nick Langworthy had promised him that the NY-26 race was his when Chris Lee was done in Congress. That day came sooner than anyone expected, and Bellavia feels betrayed by the Corwin pick.

Channel 2 did, in fact, make an appearance as the meeting was taking place in the back room of the coffee house. Gramigna reports, and sources tell me, that Bellavia called them from the bathroom. Nothing came of it, but I’ve heard that hilarity ensued as Paladino and Collins scrambled to evacuate the Comfort Zone coffee shop undetected by HD cameras. Rus says it was nothing like that, and that Bellavia and his handler went out first, with Rus, Collins, and Paladino following soon afterwards.

Rus Thompson tells me that during the meeting, Bellavia played for his assembled hosts a voice mail he had received and saved.  The voice, whom nobody recognized – and was not Michael Caputo – promised Bellavia $70,000 if he would leave the race, and I also hear that the message included information that could only have come from Bellavia’s own credit report, with the voice urging Bellavia to take the money and better his financial situation.

The use of the gossip sites to try and affect the Bellavia candidacy is a huge tell. Before Kathy Hochul could even announce her candidacy, Jane Corwin and the NRCC jumped all over her, calling her a liberal lobbyist tax-hiker. The fact that Bellavia is in this race with some genuine right-wing Tea Party support, and the fact that Jack Davis is positioning himself as the whackjob Tea Party candidate pulls wingnut votes away from Corwin; Corwin, whose first public proclamation upon being selected by her party bosses involved calling out President Obama for not defending the stupid, stupidly named, and likely unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Corwin has to call the gays gross in order to protect her right flank from a war hero and a deep-pocketed nut.  What a sad indictment of the Republican Party that is.

Bellavia is a man on a mission, he’s pissed off and has something to prove. He’s not burning any bridges because they’re already smoldering in the creek below.  I may disagree with every opinion he has, but I don’t have any reason to believe that Bellavia is not a man of honor and integrity. Unlike so many others involved in politics in this petty, nasty area, he can’t be bought off. This is remarkably frustrating to hyperwealthy Republicans who are used to people trembling at the sight of their checkbooks.

Rus agreed to confirm his side of the story on the record, and he confirms many of the details contained in Gramigna’s post. Rus says he tried to set Bellavia up with Paladino and Collins for noble reasons, to foster a discussion. He says he didn’t intend to ambush Bellavia, and I take him at his word. But it would appear that Bellavia felt ambushed, enough so that he alerted the media.

There’s also the matter of Caputo. Some have expended a lot of energy accusing him of being the person who tried to solicit $50,000 bribes for Bellavia to exit the race.  If Bellavia had a phone message on his voice mail – confirmed – that offered him a $70k bribe to do just that, why the hell would he need Caputo to go out and hustle for $20k less? It makes no sense.

It makes no sense because the Caputo-bribe story is utter nonsense. Apparently, when the Corwin pick was made, a strong effort was undertaken to get Bellavia to sit this out.  It was thought that, should that happen, big money people might host a fundraiser to enable Bellavia to retire his campaign debts. This is so common as to be completely uncontroversial, and not at all a bribe.

So, good for Bellavia for sticking to his guns, for not being intimidated by powerful, wealthy men trying to influence his decision-making behind closed doors under peculiar circumstances. Note that Bellavia is standing on principle, and can’t be bought.

Corwin is scared. Collins is scared. Paladino wants people to be scared of him. How fascinating that Chris Lee’s shirtless tranny hunting let all of WNY see that political party for what it really is.

Make sure to read Chris Charvella’s companion piece, as he contacted Hawley to see whether he knew that Collins and Paladino supposedly offered his seat to Bellavia.

32 Responses to “Where Collins & Paladino Innocently Discuss #NY26 with David Bellavia”

  1. Mr. F.N. Magoo March 24, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Man, it must be hard for David Bellavia to breathe with all of Corwin’s self-appointed helpers dogpiling on top of him. This guy’s really gonna have to draw on his combat experience to avoid being fragged by his ‘own’ Republican party.

  2. Fat Tony March 24, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    This race has become the surrogate battleground for Republicans waging war on each other. Remember when Reynolds retired and Collins and his political Rasputin Mike Hook tried to own the nominating process for their handpicked millionaire? Reynolds laid in the weeds and when the timing was right, sprung Chris Lee out of no where, put Collins/Hook back on their heels and grabbed the nomination for Lee. I’ve heard stories that Collins and Hook brought Bellavia to DC before the last election to encourage him to primary Lee but Bellavia would not do it.

    Fast forward to now. Corwin is now the darling of Collins and Mike Hook will make millions off this race. In order to snare her the nomination, they have to wait until George Maziarz takes a pass…and then claim that they pushed Maziarz out of the race, insulting him.

    On their way to the coronation, chaos ensues everywhere in the GOP, yet Tom Reynolds, the best inside player in WNY political history, is remarkably silent. George Maziarz is quiet as well and suddenly, it comes into focus. Reynolds and Maziarz don’t care if Corwin wins a Congressional seat that is probably gone (especially since Maziarz will control WNY redistricting on the Senate side to make sure it’s gone) but are interested in handing Collins a nice loss right before his own re-election.

    Then again, I could be wrong….but I don’t think so.

  3. peteherr March 24, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    @Fat Tony – You think Reynolds and Maziarz want Collins to lose? Not sure about that.

  4. Mr. F.N. Magoo March 24, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Thumbs up for Fat Tony’s comment.

  5. Starbuck March 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Didn’t your post and comments a few days ago tell us that Collins desperately wants Bellavia to stay in the 26th race to reduce Corwin’s vote (so that Kathy Hochul would win election to Congress and be out of Collins’ way)? 
    Now this post says the exact opposite, that Collins is making big efforts to try keeping Bellavia out of the 26th race so that Hochul loses.  This one makes much more sense to me.  On another note, how does offering Bellavia an Assembly seat party endorsement compare to Congressman Sestak being offered an executive branch appointment in return for staying out of the U.S. Senate Dem primary vs. Obama’s preferred candidate Arlen Specter?  Party endorsement offers sound a lot less corrupt than government job offers. 

    • Alan Bedenko March 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      @Starbuck – I don’t know what’s the right conclusion to draw. I will note that the events in this post took place 2 weeks ago, while the bribery story broke two days ago. A lot can change in that time.

  6. RaChaCha March 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    J Okun says Great article and comment by Fat Tony! A solid 4 & 3/4 stars!!

  7. Chris Charvella March 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Party endorsement in the 139th is akin to offering a government job. The Republicans win this district 75%-25% every year whether the dems run someone or not.

  8. Mike In WNY March 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I believe I just read a blog post that condemns gossip sites for aiding Corwin, yet spouted 1080 words in 14 paragraphs, filled with gossip, innuendo and conjecture, to prove a possible point. Since there is nobody willing step forward to confirm this conjecture, this is a big non-story.

    • Alan Bedenko March 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      Except for the fact that Rus Thompson confirmed every word of it.

  9. Fat Tony March 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    @ Peteherr — Lose? Possibly, but at least give a bloody nose. Democrats are not the only ones tiring of King Collins antics.

  10. Mike In WNY March 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Rus agreed to confirm his side of the story on the record, and he confirms many of the details contained in Gramigna’s post. Rus says he tried to set Bellavia up with Paladino and Collins for noble reasons, to foster a discussion. He says he didn’t intend to ambush Bellavia, and I take him at his word. But it would appear that Bellavia felt ambushed, enough so that he alerted the media.

    That doesn’t sound like Rus confirmed every word.

    • Alan Bedenko March 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

      No, other people confirmed Bellavia’s side of the story. Thanks for checking!

  11. Mike In WNY March 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Except for the fact that Rus Thompson confirmed every word of it.

    No, other people confirmed Bellavia’s side of the story. Thanks for checking!

    I’m confused now. Which is it? Rus confirmed every word or Rus didn’t confirm every word, but other people did?

    It’s kind of hard to figure out who is using whom in your article.

    BTW, you’re welcome.

  12. Alan Bedenko March 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Yeah, Rus confirmed every detail and every word of the story, except he couldn’t confirm for me Bellavia’s feelings.  Since he’s not Bellavia and didn’t discuss it with him. 

    I did, however, confirm Bellavia’s side of it through people close to him, whose identities I’m not at liberty to disclose. But you’ll note that nothing I wrote here is “gossip”, as it’s verified and factual. 

  13. Fat Tony March 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Just an aside, but is it possible the seat they offered wasn’t Hawley’s but rather Corwin’s, which seems more plausible. Sure, Bellavia would have to move, but that’s not unusual. What is unusual is two people who are not party officials trying to cut deals that they have no ability to fulfill. Alan, you incorrectly state this whole episode shows WNY what the GOP is all about. Wrong. This whole episode shows what King Collins and his minions are about. Two very different things.

  14. Chris Charvella March 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Th e Corwin seat makes more sense than the Hawley seat, but there’s no point in making up rumors and slapping them down on ones that were already reported.

  15. Mr. F.N.Magoo March 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Looking from outside Erie, Collins looks very much like THE GOP. If he put himself shoulder-to-shoulder with Thompson and Paladino in an attempt to smother an insurgent teabag candidate, only to be rebuffed in what’s becoming a very public backhanding, I would think it not only divides the real teabaggers from the GOP but additionally might cause fractures within both groups. Should David Bellavia wish to run for Hawley’s seat on his own, he very well could win a Republican primary. And with Hawley having endorsed Corwin as the next Barber Conable, Bellavia should relish the challenge. I hope he’s sitting back in the tall grass, giggling his ass off, waiting to dish out some payback. I’d never vote for Bellavia but I can easily see he’s been ill-treated from the get go. He was a good soldier and got nothing but abuse for it. I’ve got to imagine, given his military background and public demeanor, that he’s pissed.

  16. Mr. F.N.Magoo March 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Just to lighten the mood, a joke; Two teabaggers walk into the backroom of a bar. Rus Thompson tries to pull down one guy’s pants while Chris and Carl scuttle behind him, saying its to his long term benefit.

    Tell me you didn’t have a hi-def mental image of ‘scuttling’.

  17. Very Concerned March 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I have a friend that is in the tea party movement who told me about this story the day after it happened. This was two weeks ago. I thought it was too crazy to be true! Boy was i wrong! Now that the story is coming out i find that it is scary, like something that you would hear about in Chicago! I hope the FBI is looking into this because this seems to be blatant corruption. What is Channel 2 waiting for to release the video? When will the Buffalo News run this story? I think more people need to know what is going on behind the scenes in our community.

  18. Mr. F.N.Magoo March 24, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    @Very Concened: Me tarded, too. How me get paid to lurk like the way you do?

  19. Dan Maloney March 25, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    I can confirm the story about the $75,000 bribe offer and the credit report info. David played that message back for us while we were up there collecting signatures for his petitions. The FBI should be investigating that since it is a felony to offer anything to influence a candidate for federal office.

  20. Hacksaw March 25, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    This is the kind of story channel 2 thrives on. One of 2 things must be going on with them, either they are still trying to make it seem as if they scooped everyone else on it, or they are looking at a potential of advertising losses they would get in the backlash of the local republican party threatening to either pull all or most of the lucrative election ads in October and November. I just can’t believe that no other local news source would not be all over this, especially the Buffalo News with all of the back and forth with Paladino and all.

  21. Hank March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    All In All, very interesting. I of course wasn’t there when Jack Davis spoke, but somehow I think someome probably scuttled the word “ILLEGAL” when Jack was talking about “immigrants ruining the country”. ILLEGAL Immigrants ARE ruining the country. Nobody’s fault but Big Sis and the rest of Big Government. Why are we bombing and shooting missiles at Libya when our border is about as porous as a sieve I’m not sure.

    LEGAL Immigrants—-not so much to not at all.

  22. An Outhouse March 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    War hero? Terrorizing people in their homes is cowardice.

  23. jhorn March 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    wondering where sat.3/26 buff news story “Bellavia campaign appears to be over” fits in this stream of conjecture.

  24. James Kistner March 31, 2011 at 2:36 am #

    Alan Bedenko does it again. This is not WNY Media, its the liberal machine bashing anyone other than themselves. This is why liberalism works only for special interests, it has no real appreciation of the public interest, or what that means. Just gay interests, the interests of the unemployable, and the over educated ‘creative class’. Working class libertarians, real folks, are outside the WNY readership, because, they cannot be fool twice. Bellavia was not Russ and the Grand island (GI) TEA-GOP selection, that was common knowledge to real tea people. Why do you think he will not be an option in the election? The fix is in, and the demonrats and republicats made the process this way. “Its a big club Bellavia, and you ain’t in it.”, but niether are most real American.
    James Kistner
    Organizer WNY RP CFL

    • Alan Bedenko March 31, 2011 at 5:28 am #

      Kistner – I don’t know what liberals had to do with Bellavia’s failure to make the ballot. The person challenging his ballot is a Republican from the Rochester area. It’s the Republican machine that’s been working its tail off to keep Bellavia and Davis off the ballot. Not the Democratis. Get a clue.


  1. Was David Bellavia Offered Steve Hawley’s Assembly Seat To Back Out Of the NY26 Race? « WNYMedia.net - March 24, 2011

    […] Gramigna originally appeared on http://newwnypolitics.net/ and credited unnamed sources attending a Tea Party Event that we have learned took place at the Comfort Zone Coffee Shop in Buffalo.  Here’s an excerpt from the story: “Dave was leaving the place when a female operative […]

  2. NY 26 Special Election Links 03/24/2011 (p.m.) | GLOW Democrats - March 24, 2011

    […] Where Collins & Paladino Innocently Discuss #NY26 with David Bellavia « WNYMedia.net […]

  3. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Artvoice Daily - October 17, 2012

    […] Lee was done. Yet Chris Collins and Carl Paladino tried to intimidate Bellavia out of the race. It was like something out of Goodfellas.  2011 saw Collins and Poloncarz do battle. As usual, Collins and the Republicans cut a deal with […]

  4. Chris Collins and the Dictatorship of Petty Bureaucracy | Buffalopundit - December 2, 2014

    […] When Chris Lee got caught shirtless on Craigslist, soliciting dates from people not his wife, a scramble to replace him ensued. David Bellavia had a deal that he would be next when Lee was done. Lee was done. Yet Chris Collins and Carl Paladino tried to intimidate Bellavia out of the race. It was like something out of Goodfellas. […]

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