Tag Archives: election law

A Confluence of Horrible Politics

24 Sep

When it comes down to less than 100 votes between the two candidates, you don’t get to be a sore winner and gloat over an exceedingly narrow victory. When the victory came about as a result of a relentless, libelous campaign whereby a young and promising legislator is defamed as a “Republican” sellout, it’s nothing to boast about. When the beneficiary of that campaign is one of the most toxic and corruptible figures ever to skulk through government, it’s shameful. Barbara Miller-Williams didn’t win for herself, had Steve Pigeon not formed a PAC and funded it with almost $300,000 within the course of a week, there’d have been no blitz of “Tim Hogues is a Republican” mailers that went to every home in the district every day. 

Betty Jean Grant – she was a victor, completely obliterating the opponent who stood to benefit from the same mailing blitz. Nice try, Tim Kennedy, but you didn’t get your revenge directly against your nemesis this time

Zydel and Moore – the Pigeon/Mazurek top of the marquee – both lost big to HQ-backed candidates Dearmyer (who, in turn, lost to Pat Burke), and Wynnie Fisher, respectively. Not a day for a Pigeon victory lap at all. 

Bert Dunn, on the other hand, lost dramatically to Dick Dobson. Dunn ran his own campaign with his own people and his own money, eschewing help from the party apparatus. Zellner stayed out of that race, for the most part, and Dunn lost big. Too big – it was embarrassing, but all he seemed to do was put signs up at Bert’s Bikes locations and let Pigeon’s committee beat him up on TV. 

Now, Dunn is pledging to continue his run on the “Law and Order” party line he created for himself. This is a foolish endeavor that will not work and is a stupid thing to do at a time when Democrats should be rallying around Dobson. Dunn failed and should step aside and perhaps try again another time. 

By the same token, Democrats should all be supporting Fisher and Burke in their general election battles. It’s one thing to run a primary campaign, it’s another to actively support the Republican to get one over on the party apparatchiks you don’t like. 

Finally, as the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy reported, complaints have been made to the Moreland Commission on public corruption. Let’s examine. 

– Senator Tim Kennedy gave $85,000 to the Pigeon/Mazurek PAC, half of which came from a defunct, closed campaign account in apparent violation of election law. Kennedy tells McCarthy that his donations followed the “letter and spirit” of the law. The facts and disclosures show the exact opposite, yet this is omitted from the article.  

– Pigeon told McCarthy: 

Pigeon labeled the Grant-Hogues letter a “frivolous action” and questioned whether Cuomo’s Moreland Commission is even charged with probing political campaigns.

“The charge is to investigate corruption of public officers,” Pigeon said, “not to be a campaign watchdog. That power still lies with the Board of Elections.

Yet the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption was formed earlier this year, and the announcement read, in part, as follows

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of the “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act and Executive Law Section 63(8) to probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State

…”I am formally empanelling a Commission to Investigate Public Corruption pursuant to the Moreland Act and Section 63(8) of the Executive Law that will convene the best minds in law enforcement and public policy from across New York to address weaknesses in the State’s public corruption, election and campaign finance laws, generate transparency and accountability, and restore the public trust.”

  • [The commission will investigate] Campaign financing including but not limited to contribution limits and other restrictions; disclosure of third-party contributions and expenditures; and the effectiveness of existing campaign finance laws.

So, the facts directly contradict Pigeon’s assertion about the commission’s mission, yet this key fact is shunted down to the bottom of the article, completely outside the context of Pigeon’s assertion. 

The way in which New York conducts is elections is horrible, rife with opportunities for bad people to do questionable and corrupt things. PACs can spend unlimited money and its campaign advertising doesn’t need to disclose the source. Electoral fusion allows our system to be more about dealmaking with otherwise irrelevant minor “parties” and does nothing to enhance electoral democracy. Ballot access is unreasonably complicated and rife with traps for the unwary, and should be simplified. Money flowing to and from PACs – which are not even formally recognized under state law – should be accounted-for, disclosed, and limited to prevent monied interests from stealing elections. 

The problem now is whether money in politics will prevent the needed reforms from being openly discussed and implemented. 

Defunct Tim Kennedy Campaign Account Donates $45,000

10 Sep

As noted last week, state Senator Tim Kennedy (who famously switched allegiances in 2010 to support a de facto Republican majority, Collins-puppet County Legislature, in order to, among other things, secure Conservative backing via Steve Pigeon for his Senate run against dinosaur Bill Stachowski) has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the questionably legal political action committee being led by Steve Pigeon and Kristy Mazurek. The “WNY Progressive Caucus PAC” has been supporting Democratic primary candidates who are opposed to Erie County Democratic Headquarters, such as turncoat Democrat Barbara Miller-Williams, Joyce Wilson Nixon, Rick Zydel, and Wes Moore. Indeed, there seems to be ample evidence to suggest that the PAC has been coordinating its activities with that of some of these campaigns, in contravention of the law. 

On September 5th, the 24 hour reports of big donations showed an influx of cash from “Kennedy for Senate”. 

 

Here is the first set of Tim Kennedy cash that the Mazurek/Pigeon/Max PAC reported: 

$45,000 from “Friends of Tim Kennedy” – an account that has been inactive since 2011

The most recent activity for “Friends of Tim Kennedy” shows a balance of $8.61. 

So, if the account had $8.00 in it and was inactive, how exactly did it re-appear and raise $40,000 just a few weeks ago? 

UPDATE: A correspondent with knowledge of Election Law emails this: 

Kennedy (probably both his committees) is in violation of the campaign finance law for failing to file two pre-primary reports disclosing his campaign contributions and expenses, including his contributions to the Pigeon / Mazurek PAC.  Once he starts to donate, he is “participating” in a primary election – and that triggers the obligation to file NOW (EL 14-102(1).  He’s going to pretend he doesn’t need to, and then try to just file his semi-annual report in January, claiming that he doesn’t have a primary and therefore doesn’t have an obligation to file.
 
Also, here’s video of Steve Pigeon and Deputy Mayor Steve Casey meeting with Tim Kennedy a few years ago (FF to 0:35): 
 

That’s not all – people close to the Dearmyer campaign report that there have been phony pro-Dearmyer calls being made by people who are (a) not affiliated with her campaign; (b) not really supporting her and providing false information; and (c) being very rude when calling. This smells of this PAC. 

Paid for by Citizens for a Horrible WNY

4 Sep

It’s not the fault of the newly constituted “WNY Progressive Caucus” that it (or someone using its mail permit) sent out anonymous, no-attribution lit blasting incumbent legislators Betty Jean Grant and Tim Hogues, and praising challengers Joyce Wilson Nixon and Barbara Miller-Williams. So long as people aligned with the breakaway Steve Pigeon faction of disgruntled nominal Democrats exist, there will be nonsense. It is ever thus. 

The literature in question accuses Betty Jean Grant of being evil and bad with money, and accuses Hogues of helping Republican towns with their roads. Smearing Grant is baseless and offensive, but Hogues is running against Barbara Miller-Williams, who collaborated with former Republican County Executive Chris Collins to give the GOP minority a de facto majority for two years. Miller-Williams sold out her district, her community, and her principles for political gain which, thankfully, was short-lived. The hypocrisy is thick as molasses. 

Do you think that these people need to reveal who they are on that literature? You’re wrong. In a state race, there is no requirement whatsoever that the sponsor of an advertisement reveal themselves. “Paid for by” isn’t a requirement. Typical New York, that – protecting shenanigans, instead of informing the voting public. 

Generally, a PAC like the “WNY Progressive Caucus” would need to disclose where its money is coming from. But here, it’s so new, it hasn’t filed anything. A woman named Kristi Mazurek is listed as the group’s treasurer. She is a commentator for WGRZ’s Sunday political show, 2Sides, and has been running the campaigns of a few Democratic legislature candidates who are challenging people endorsed by the county Democratic committee. As I wrote in August

It should be noted that WGRZ 2Sides co-host Kristy Mazurek is [Wes] Moore’s and [Rick] Zydel’s campaign manager. Query why [her former co-host Stefan] Mychajliw would have felt the need to abandon the show when he ran for public office, yet the Democrat on the show feels no similar ethical obligation to do so, going so far as to attempt to ridicule an opponent on Facebook who wasn’t interested in going on the show. 

Mazurek had taken to Facebook to ridicule Moore’s opponent Wynnie Fisher for refusing to appear on 2Sides. Yet why on Earth would a candidate appear on a show to be interrogated by her opponent’s campaign manager? It’s an insane proposition. (N.B., David Pfaff is a known Pigeon associate): 

And so, Mazurek has Palinistically taken to Facebook again to issue a non-denial denial about the WNY Progressive Caucus’ literature: 

Translation: Zellner didn’t hire / get me hired for something-or-other, and so I’m going to align myself with the people who are working to undermine and unseat him. Note that Mazurek doesn’t deny that she or her PAC sent out the anti-Hogues and anti-Grant mailings. She simply says the complaints “don’t have merit”. So, I replied: 

Reply, (right under one from Erick Mullen, who did all of Jack Davis’ ads that relentlessly went after endorsed Democrat Jon Powers in ’08): 

I have no idea what that means. So, 

There was no reply, natch.I don’t think Ms. Mazurek knows what “meritless” means.

These types of anonymous mailers come out all the time, and when anonymous, you can bet that the people behind it want to keep you in the dark. You should be insulted by them – they figure you’re an idiot; an ignoramus. Yet there’s no law that says they have to disclose who they are. 

So, if you’re outraged when your candidate gets anonymously and unfairly slammed by anonyms, you’re going to have to lobby Albany to demand that the Election Law be amended to (a) require that all campaign advertisements and literature clearly disclose who paid for them; and (b) institute a hefty penalty for any violations – penalties that are confiscatory deterrents. 

I’m sick and tired of nasty people with unclean hands making electoral politics dirtier than it has to be. If Mazurek and the people behind the group for which she is treasurer think that Tim Hogues is a closet Clarence Republican and that Barbara Miller-Williams is the reincarnation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, then they should disclose who they are. 

By the way, if you’re a disgruntled Frank Max supporter or in league with Steve Pigeon, that’s swell – but instead of working with Republicans and the fusion parties actively to undermine endorsed Democrats, why not convince the various and sundry committee members why they should vote for Max over Zellner for party chair next time around? If you’re in league with the Conservative Party, why even pretend to be a Democrat? 

We’re a region with a lot of dummies running too many horrible governments, and at a bare minimum we should know who’s behind what. 

Fact-Checking McCarthy’s Story About Grisanti’s Money

19 Jan

Courtesy Tom Dolina at Tommunisms.com

Bob McCarthy reports in Thursday’s Buffalo News that State Senator Mark Grisanti (SD-60) reported receiving “nearly $247,000” and that, of the 85 reported donors, only one was from western New York.

The insinuation here is that Grisanti’s local support is slipping, and that he’s dependent on money from outside the region to mount next year’s re-election bid.  It’s an insinuation that is false, and McCarthy is deliberately ignoring or confused by the fact that Grisanti has chosen voluntarily to follow an unnecessarily stringent financial disclosure pattern for a State Senator in a non-election year.

1. All of the checks from outside the area arose from a fundraiser that New York Mayor Bloomberg held in October for Republican Senators who voted in favor of the same sex marriage bill last summer. At that fundraiser, most donors pledged money, and the pledges were fulfilled in early December, and reported in January.

2. When Grisanti files, he itemizes every single donation – even if it’s under the $100 threshold – in order to maximize transparency.  He files to make sure everything is out there, because he has nothing to hide.

3. Grisanti held several local fundraisers during previous reporting periods, but none during the time covered by the January periodic, which would have started in mid-December.

4. If you look at Grisanti’s disclosure (and compare it to that of Maziarz, Kennedy, and Ranzenhofer), he filed pursuant to the tighter election year schedule despite the fact that 2011 was not an election year for him.  In his unnecessary 32 day pre-primary filing, most of his individual donations came from within WNY.  All of the individual donations in the 11 day pre-primary disclosure were from WNY.  In the 32 day pre-general filing, only one individual donation came from outside WNY.

5. Had Grisanti, like his colleagues, opted not to follow that tighter election-year cycle during the last half of 2011, all of those pre-primary and pre- and post-general election disclosures would have been contained in the January filing that McCarthy wrote about.

6. The shorter version is, Grisanti’s January disclosure only covers December 2011. The other Senators’ disclosures covers July – December 2011.

So, McCarthy’s insinuation about Grisanti’s support coming almost exclusively from outside the area, and that this is somehow out of the ordinary for a State Senator, is not a fair representation of the facts in this particular instance.

 

DiPietro’s Poll and Unintended Consequences

8 Jul

Yesterday morning, David DiPietro – Tea Party candidate for State Senate SD-59 – sent an email to an unknown number of people, including me. There was no text or other explanation for why I received a grammatically incorrect, poorly spelled poll report that showed DiPietro trailing Pat Gallivan.

DiPietro has never before seen fit to send me an email or otherwise correspond with me in any way, and although the complete list of recipients was hidden in a bcc block, I imagine I wasn’t the only one to get it.

So I printed it, and simultaneously emailed him back a list of questions about the sourcing of the poll. We discussed it yesterday afternoon on Brad Riter’s radio show on WECK 1230. Today I discovered why I received it.

From Allen Coniglio from the Ostrowski wing of the local Tea Party:

In any case, in recent days, pressure has been put on Dave DiPietro to leave the 59th district senate race. Polls show Domagalski far behind, gathering only single digit support, while Dave and the pension padding Gallivan are neck and neck. Dave refuses to get out of the race and this is really upsetting the folks at the TeaGOP machine as Domagalski is their major line of support within the Republican machine. Langworthy, who as you may already know, is the guy who was appointed by Domagalski to replace him when he stepped down to run in the 59th race, is an errand boy who will find nothing to support him when Domagalski, TeaGOP, and the Republican machine inevitably crash and burn. Langworthy should do the honorable thing and step down now but he won’t as he has no honor. Thus, TeaGOP is in a very difficult situation. They cannot release their endorsements as the 59th race is a true burden for them. Remember, it is the fact that Rus Thompson tried to force Domagalski in as the tea party candidate in the first few days of April and Jim Ostrowski’s and my refusal to go along with such an obviously phony candidate, that caused the original breakup of the TPC. And, it was from this thwarted move that RT said to Langworthy 10 days later that he has a plan to take us out at the knees. Why take us out at the knees? Because we were in his way and he needed us destroyed so that he and the GOP could control the tea party in Buffalo and Western NY. You have seen much of their work right here on ReformNYS as they tried to blacken our names and they have done the same thing on other blogs as well. Well, they are still busily at work, trying to thwart the will of the people and trying to establish the TeaGOP machine as a subsidiary of the Republican machine.

Notice how “subtle” these people are. In printing Dave DiPietro’s request for petition help on their TeaGOP newsletter, they took the special step of misspelling Dave’s name in order to send a very clear and compelling message. It is copied and pasted below for you to see. Instead of writing “DiPietro”, they wrote “DiePietro”. The subliminal intent is quite clear and as crude as everything else they do. “Die Pietro”.

So, DiPietro is being pressured to leave the race so that what – Domagalski has a shot against Gallivan? Stepping gingerly through Coniglio’s self-righteous conspiracy theories, that’s what seems to be going on. That would explain why DiPietro would send an unsolicited email showing one poll answer from a greater poll.

But commenter Fat Tony says – not so fast.

…now that DiPietro publicly released these results to you, state Election Law requires that he release the full poll, including all questions and results, cross tabs, sample size, demographics, margin of error, etc. The law is in place to specifically prohibit what he is trying to do, which is selectively release information. For all we know, the preceding questions leading up to the one he sent you might have been pushes to kill Domagalski Furthermore, I doubt the question was open-ended as it appears in what he sent you so how they identified each person really matters.

The question would normally be: there are three Republican candidates running in a primary election for State Senate: former Erie CountySheriff Patrick Gallivan, former East Aurora Supervisor David DiPietro and former Erie County Republican Chairman Jim Domgalski. If the election were held today, for whom would you be voting.

I looked into it and confirmed that Election Law Section 3-106 requires the BOE to set up a “Fair Campaign Code” as part of their rules. Rule 6201.2 of that Fair Election Code applies here.

Click to enlarge

So, 24 hours down, 24 hours to go for DiPietro to release the poll – in its entirety – to the Board of Elections. If he doesn’t, there is a complaint procedure to follow.

In the words of political philosopher Ke$ha, Tick tock.

Election Law, Schmelection Law

28 Sep

Oh, did you see this article in yesterday’s Buffalo News?

Until people decide that violations of the Election Law are worth pursuing, and until people decide that the equivalent of laundering political donations is a no-no, and someone actually comes in any makes-believe that this stuff is in some way important, then this stuff will keep on happening every cycle, every year, all the time.

A certain cynical subset of our already cynical local political world has made the calculation that the ends justify the means.  Sometimes the end is to win an election, but often enough, it’s just to destroy an opponent (Sam Hoyt and “Mothers and Fathers Looking for Answers“), as long as these blatant misdeeds are given the Barbrady treatment, nothing will change.

Because this stuff is important, it is a no-no, and it is worth pursuing.  The fact that no one bothers renders an already corrupt system more so, and leaves it vulnerable to the whims of scumbags.

Worth it for the picture alone

3 Dec

Clicky clicky

In the News: Part Two

3 Dec

Former West Seneca Supervisor and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the County Executive nomination Paul Clark was convicted yesterday of misdemeanor charges arising from some very shady goings-on with respect to campaign financing:

Clark acknowledged that he “knowingly and willfully” failed to report to his campaign treasurer a $10,000 contribution from [Roger] Peck, who was Clark’s top contributor and an energy consultant to the Town of West Seneca. He then admitted having Peck pay $10,000 to Joseph J. Illuzzi for “services rendered” on a Web site he devotes to political advertising and failing to report it as required by election law.

Peck, in turn, acknowledged paying the money to Illuzzi — again for “services rendered” — and not reporting it. Illuzzi then mounted an extensive campaign on his Web site accusing Clark’s rival in the 2007 Democratic primary for county executive, James P. Keane, of being a racist.

Meanwhile, District Attorney Frank J. Clark said he will not pursue felony charges he originally threatened against Michael W. Mullins, who first revealed that he illegally paid Paul Clark’s marketing consultant with two bags containing $20,000 in cash. Mullins, the former campaign aide who told The Buffalo News in October 2007 about the Clark scheme, is expected to face similar misdemeanor charges by the end of the week, the district attorney said.

Mullins, for what it’s worth, may have done wrong, but he’s the whistleblower – the one who blew this whole scheme wide open. Had he lawyered up from the get-go, he could have sought and received immunity from prosecution. Instead, he’s taking his lumps.

Devoted “to political advertising”. Heh.