Tag Archives: Independence Party

Electoral Fusion & “Reform”

26 Apr

What on earth is the point of running a political party if it’s going to be completely controlled by another political party? What purpose is served?

While I agree with a lot of what Golisano’s “Responsible New York” stands for vis-a-vis reformation of state government, his alliance with supremely political tin-pot Machiavellis indicates to me (and a lot of other people) that “reform” is secondary to “power”. Need proof? Ask Joe Mesi who raised funds for whom to get him that cush liaison job for the State Senate, of all things.

If a political party gets a ballot line, it should be putting up its own candidates. Period. This is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas – not a marketplace of backroom deals and quid-pro-quos. Electoral fusion is one of the reasons why incumbents continue to win, is a source of political patronage. The Independence Party simply isn’t.

Deep Thought – Orsini Edition

6 Nov

What’s wrong with this picture, from the NYC Board of Elections list of candidates? (click to enlarge)

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BTW, Mr. Fumerelle was not elected. But Tony Orsini and Chris Lee have some lovely parting gifts for him.

Independence Party Flips from Fumerelle and Flops to Lee

25 Sep

Chris Lee (Phenomenal Hair – 26) wrapped up the Independence Party line today.

Kenmore attorney and IP member (and Orsini relative) Anthony Fumerelle had been the IP candidate, but is now “nominated for a State Supreme Court judgeship in Queens”.

Queens.

Under the rules, that’s the only way the IP could get Lee on its line – Fumerelle had to either die or run for supreme court. This “political party” is such a piece of absolute and utter dreck.

When asked why voters should have confidence in a party that switches candidates after nominating them, Connolly said confusion in the Independence Party and in the Democratic primary caused the minor party to take the unusual step.

“At the time this occurred there were a lot of people on a lot of different pages out there,” he said. “A decision simply could not be made.”

Connolly said the party did not contact Democrat Alice J. Kryzan, feeling more comfortable with the former businessman from Amherst.

They didn’t even contact Kryzan. No opportunity to present her case, to be vetted by the committee. Some political process. Chances are Kryzan wasn’t considered because she didn’t make enough promises to the right people or attend the right fundraisers, if you know what I mean. The IP took what infinitesimal shred of credibility they had left and destroyed it.

I rail constantly against electoral fusion, and still believe it to be one of the most corrupt and/or corruptable processes in New York electoral politics. You’ll never hear a candidate for office say that, though. I think every candidate who accepts the IP line especially should be asked about electoral fusion.

On the bright side, Jack Davis and his $10,000 were easily parted, and that’s a good thing.

Bannister & Michalek on IP Line

18 Sep

Tracey Bannister and John Michalek, two Democratic candidates for Supreme Court (the latter up for re-election) snagged the IP line in their bids. I know them both and can heartily endorse both of them. Bannister is Judge Gorski’s longtime confidential law clerk, and has been rated “Outstanding” by the Erie County Bar Association – its highest ranking. Michalek is a fair, thorough, and thoughtful judge who absolutely deserves another term.

What is a Bribe?

19 Aug

Erie County Independence Party Chairman Tony Orsini asks Glenn Gramigna something of a rhetorical question:

McCarthy, and others have done it again, let me ask you and your readers what is a bribe? Jack Davis paid my wife for help in a Democratic Primary, and contacts in the I.P. his name was not put up for consideration by the Chairman of Munroe County or Erie County we had an Indpendence candidate, in the race. Bribe ?Brian Higgins campaign gave the Working Familys Party $25,000.00 and received the indorsment Bribe? Chairman Tony Orsini

Setting the creative spelling aside for a moment, when Orsini was first asked about this a few weeks ago, he said:

Rafael Colon did not return a call to comment. But Anthony Orsini said his wife’s company, incorporated in Florida earlier this year, has earned the money by providing names of friendly Democrats to the Davis campaign.

“She gives him names of contacts; that’s what he wanted her to do,” Orsini said. “It’s got nothing to do with the endorsement.”

Costal Consulting South gives names to Davis of “people who are players — Democrats who have worked with the Independence Party in the past and who could be helpful,” Orsini said.

He later said,

“She gives [Davis] names of contacts; that’s what he wanted her to do,” Orsini said. “It’s got nothing to do with the endorsement.”

Why would a very well-funded (self-funded) Democratic candidate need the help of the wife of the Independence Party’s chairman to get the names of Democratic “players”? The names of big donors are readily available by getting some intern to hunt and peck through past campaign finance disclosures. The names of organizers and activists is also pretty easy to ascertain without paying Orsini’s wife’s Florida-based company $5,000. Can we see the work product that $5,000 bought?

At least the Working Families Party has a set of principles it promotes and believes in. It’s even running ads right now against Paterson’s proposed tax freeze. The Independence Party is a rudderless endorsement mill and nothing more.

NY-26 Today

19 Aug

On his website, two-time loser Jack Davis writes,

One more thing – I want to run on a positive campaign on my record of saving AND creating jobs, global economic experience, and a passion to give back to the country and the community that has given me and my family so much.

So I will not be the first to engage in the politics of personal attacks. I invite all the others running for this office, to join me in a pledge to the taxpayers – not to interrupt their time at home with negative TV ads or clutter their mailboxes with tacky mailers. The issues are too important, we can do better, and I hope the other candidates will agree.

The issues are important indeed, but Davis’ “pledge” is – and was – a lie.

The only criticism that the Powers campaign has leveled against Jack Davis involved his very large investments in big oil stocks, raising the question of whether it was in Davis’ personal financial interest to push for alternative, sustainable energy solutions. That is a criticism on the issues – not a personal attack.

But Davis is now a desperate candidate; Davis with all his millions couldn’t buy himself the IP line, couldn’t buy himself the support of organized labor in spite of his anti-free-trade views, and couldn’t buy himself the endorsements of the Democratic party committees anywhere in the district.

Over the weekend, I was at University Plaza across from UB South waiting for a pizza. There was a young African American guy in the plaza sporting a “Save Jobs” t-shirt with a clipboard and Davis lit. I asked him what he was collecting signatures for, and he handed me the clipboard. He explained to me that he was there on behalf of Jack Davis, who is running for “councilman” and that he wants to “save our jobs and stuff”, and the clipboard held petitions to add the “Save Jobs and Farms Party” to the ballot in November. Yes, he was being paid. So, if Jack can’t buy himself the Independence or Democratic line, he’ll buy himself a minor-party line and will undoubtedly be campaigning through and until November. Particularly amusing was the party emblem, resembling an early 20th century socialist cog symbol.

In spite of Davis’ pledge not to run personal attacks, we’ve seen an attack website made to look like Powers’ own, using a URL associated with Powers’ unpaid army of volunteers. We’ve seen the release of a ticket for disorderly conduct from 2004, which when paired with $2.00 will buy someone a cup of coffee. We’ve seen the Rovian release of stinging pseudo-information about War Kids Relief, which some mainstream media recount, replete with added-value falsity.

Even Joe Illuzzi dropped this bombshell today:

For our part: The Davis campaign offered this publication $3,000 to do hit pieces on Davis rival Jon Powers in lieu of an ad. We said, NO! A shouting match ensued between yours truly & Davis spokesman Luke Vaughan. Albeit, we believe Jon Powers is a bum

They didn’t want to buy an ad, because that would have been too obvious. Instead, they wanted to pay Illuzzi to ream Powers, but maintain the appearance that they weren’t engaging in “personal attacks”. Jack Davis likes to talk about how he’s the candidate who’ll “clean it up“. What a load of nonsense. How will he clean up Washington when he’s been running a dirty campaign?

Naturally, Davis’ vigorous, relentless attacks on Powers only underscore the fact that Powers is the one to beat, and Davis quite literally can’t get anyone to pay him any attention.

Except, of course, for the Monroe County District Attorney and the federal authorities.

You can’t call them “consultants” when all you’ve bought for $5,000 is a vote. You’ll recall that Davis listed $5,000 in payments to “Blanca Semidey” for consulting services on his financial disclosures. Semidey is the maiden name of the wife of disgraced former Monroe County IP chair Rafael Colon.

Blanca Colon was one of three members of the Monroe County Independence Party’s nominating committee to vote for Democratic congressional candidate Jack Davis back in May, but she never revealed that she was being paid by the Davis campaign, according to a party member.

The mere fact that the money was paid out in such a way as to not be obvious that it was to Mrs. Colon and Mrs. Orsini is indicative of the fact that Davis knew the payments were improper vote buying and tried to hide them. Hate to say it, but that’s a whole lot different from when Jon Powers improperly reimbursed himself for running his campaign out of his house and then repaying the money back – because there was transparency; he didn’t try to hide them.

When asked about Davis’ payoffs, the Colons (showing infinitely more class than the Orsinis) promptly quit the party.

The Colons resigned when asked about the payments. Blanca Colon received the payments under her maiden name, Blanca Semidey. Davis made payments in the same amount to the wife of Erie County Independence Chairman Tony Orsini.

Payments to both women were made public after Davis filed campaign finance reports in mid-July. Colon resigned after the payments came to light.

After initially saying the payments would continue, despite Colon’s resignation from the committee, the Davis campaign announced Aug. 8 that the payments would end.

“These are half-baked slanderous charges made at the height of the silly season,” said Joy Langley, communications director for the Davis campaign, on Monday.

If they’re “slanderous”, then I expect shortly to see a complaint filed with the State Supreme Court against the individual who replaced Colon as chair of the Monroe IP, who called the payoffs “bribes”. Oh, and it was Davis who inaugurated the silly season, so WTF.

Ultimately, I think it underscores a few things. Firstly, that Jack Davis will do and say anything to get elected. Secondly, that Jack Davis is a liar who can’t run on issues that failed him in ’04 and ’06, and instead figures he can bloody up the frontrunner enough that people will turn again to him. Thirdly, that electoral fusion – especially where the IP is concerned – has taken yet another blow, proving once again that it’s a fertile breeding ground for corruption and scandal.

Meanwhile, Jon Powers has released his education agenda, his energy reform agenda, his policy on trade and consumer protection, and his call to service.

I know the mantra – “you’re just posting shit about Jack Davis, why can’t you post something positive about your guy”. Aside from attacking his opponents, what has Jack Davis proposed, apart from paying off the IP and paying off people at a Rochester gas station? What has Chris Lee proposed, apart from drilling for oil in states that don’t begin with “New” and don’t end with “York”? Zip, nada, zilch.

UPDATE:

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Who's Afraid?

15 Aug

Jack Davis and the Republican Party, that’s who’s afraid.

Just one week out after peddling a story accusing Jon Powers of running War Kids Relief into the ground and enriching himself in the process, the Jack Davis campaign goes back to its bitter well of desperation and trots out a story that Jon Powers was arrested in Ohio for cursing out a cop. A flat-out lie.

But Powers spokeswoman Victoria Dillon saw the incident differently. She said Powers was with college friends and fellow veterans in the area, and denied at the time and denies now that he ever used obscene language in addressing the officer. She also offered to produce witnesses to back up Powers.

“At a time when he’s under investigation and running from revelations of election fraud and bribery, the Davis campaign is practicing the lowest form of politics by distorting simple facts,” Dillon said. “Jon was written a ticket for jaywalking, never arrested and never showed any disrespect to law enforcement.”

But a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court said Powers changed his plea of not guilty to the original Class 4 misdemeanor charge to “no contest” in connection with a minor misdemeanor on Jan. 11, 2005, and that there was no mention of jaywalking in the final disposition of the case.

Dillon disagrees.

“When you look at the full statute, jaywalking is part of that statute,” she said.

A review of the Ohio criminal code defines a number of offenses that would constitute disorderly conduct — but not jaywalking.

Dillon, however, countered that it would refer to a section outlining “hindering or preventing the movement of persons on a public street.”

Powers was fined $25 and assessed $65 in court costs.

Gosh, that’s a lot of paragraphs for a $25 ticket. Powers wasn’t arrested. And he didn’t plead, and wasn’t found, guilty. And he paid a ticket. If Davis wants to paint Powers as being a one-time, one-man jaywalking spree, then that’s fine. But it doesn’t change the fact that Davis has nothing whatsoever to run on as a candidate. Oh, and when the Powers campaign offered to put McCarthy in touch with other people who witnessed the event? McCarthy wasn’t interested. He was all about covering the politics of it – not the facts.

Davis has nothing else to do, really. The two-time loser ran in ’04 and ’06 in a fit of ongoing pique against the Republican Party, which couldn’t be bothered with his concerns about free trade and blew him off. Because his message against free trade was so palatable to people whose jobs are threatened with exportation, he had overwhelming support in both races from organized labor and the Democratic Party faithful.

Not so this time, Davis finds himself completely bereft of endorsements. No one is supporting him except the people he can pay off. Whether buying their votes with cheap gas, or by paying off the wives of Independence Party leadership in Monroe and Erie Counties in order to get a leg up, Jack Davis will do and say anything to get elected. The gas giveaway was tantamount to him standing on a street corner handing out lit with $50 bills attached, yet he bleats on about being a “patriot” who isn’t trying to buy an election. Monroe’s IP chair was fired for accepting what the party called Davis’ bribes. Erie’s chair is such damaged goods that even his friend Joe Illuzzi has called for his replacement.

So, Davis is left sitting at his corporate/campaign HQ, getting his spokesguy to release absolute and utter falsities. Memo to Jack: it won’t get you any more traction to tear down Powers, and no one – no one is going to change their minds and back you again. As Genesee County Democratic Chair Charlie Mallow put it,

As many other letter writers have shown, Jack Davis doesn’t know what issues matter to Democrats because….he doesn’t care to know them. During the last two elections, Jack didn’t go out and meet anyone because he wouldn’t campaign. Jack is above all that. Jack thinks that he can just buy an election with fancy two sided color mailers. I already received five of them in the mail. Rip off musical ads and buying people off with cheap gas are more of his most recent techniques. Those things don’t constitute reasons to vote for someone. Ideology and platform do.

And Davis isn’t the only one.

The Republicans also hit Powers yesterday on the War Kids Vet non-scandal.

Erie County Republican Chairman James P. Domagalski [said] “We need leaders in Congress who believe in transparency and accountability.”

Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? For the Republican Party to interject itself into a Democratic Primary? Fascinating indeed to trot out various and sundry Chairmen of the Republican Party to comment on – well, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary.

Domagalski wasn’t such a loud proponent of transparency and accountability when it came time for Tom Reynolds to answer questions about Mark Foley. Instead, the Republican version of “transparency” and “accountability” was to issue limp denials surrounded by innocent children.

And all of this short-term-attention-span-disorder points to only one thing – the Republicans are petrified of running Chris Lee against Jon Powers.

Career politician Tom Reynolds has been suckling on the public teat since 1974, and Lee is his hand-picked suckle-cessor. Are you better off now than you were in 1989? 2000? 2004? 2006?

Alice Kryzan? She supported Reynolds monetarily and defended Hooker Chemical, the polluter/murderer of Love Canal. Jack Davis? He’s a horrible campaigner and is, frankly, easy as hell to beat (see Tom Reynolds ca. 2006). Chris “Tabula Rasa” Lee would have no problem bloodying either of these two.

The Republican Party is scared of Powers because they know their brand is tainted, they know they are bereft of ideas, and they know that they are partly to blame for the decline of the 26th District. Who has represented this district in the past few decades? Tom Reynolds? Bill Paxon? Jack Kemp? And in that time, the population loss for New York has been so stark as a result of a failure of vision and leadership that Kemp went from representing the 39th district to the 36th district, and now we only have 29. We lost 30 and 31 in the 2000 census. We lost 32 – 35 in the 1990 census.

Chris Lee has nothing to run on. Apart from his stellar maxing out of local Republican donors, I haven’t seen one story – one fresh idea come out of that campaign. I haven’t seen one positive proposal put forth that would reverse years’ worth of benign-but-pork-laden-neglect from the likes of Tom Reynolds. And what could Lee possibly know of the problems facing the average voter in NY-26? I don’t know a lot of multimillionaires for whom the price of a gallon of gas dents the family budget to the point that “staycation” has entered the vernacular. I don’t know a lot of multimillionaire scions who can really relate to the notion that New York is in a recession, the federal government can’t even get cross-border stuff with Canada right, and whose only real solution is to drill s’more.

It’s no wonder that the Republicans are petrified of Powers. That’s why, when the Form 990 for War Kids Relief –

– War Kids Relief which, incidentally, Jon Powers started up after his tour of duty in the Iraq war, and saw that Iraqi kids were ripe for the picking by jihadists to be slaughtered through attacks on American troops, decided that if the US wasn’t going to pay any attention to trying to give them hope for a future, he would try to do something. And he did. And War Kids is an ongoing concern from which he did not pay himself $66,000, contrary to the lies put forth by the 26th’s own Montgomery Burns and his stenographer, Bob McCarthy, and continues to do outreach to Iraqi kids to underscore the fact that America isn’t their enemy, but wants to help them. The effort was not only a success, but it was a noble success, at that.

– that’s why, when the Form 990 for War Kids Relief is posted, I hope that Jon Powers marches down to Republican Headquarters at the Statler Building and delivers it in-hand. And I hope that he then challenges the Republican chairs to come close to matching what Powers has done to fight for his country, to honor his home, and to try to do something – anything – to ensure that Iraq’s next generation remembers America and Americans as being their friends, their friends who helped them and cared for them, and gave them an example of what life could be, without war and oppression.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan issued his own response:

“I wonder how many people at that press conference put their lives on the line in Iraq. How can they criticize someone who braved the horrors of that war and then willingly returned to help the many children from families that were killed or displaced by the war?

“The fact that Republicans are intervening in a Democratic primary indicates their desire to avoid facing Jon Powers in November,” he added. “Haven’t we had enough of this swift boat sleaze?”

Why, someone might almost suspect that Davis colluded with the Republicans to hit Powers from two fronts.

UPDATE: Buffalo Bean has an image of the citation itself. Note the right margin: where it says “Defendant’s signature (If minor misdemeanor)”, at the scene, Powers refused to sign the ticket because he adamantly stated he never cursed the cop out. When he was faced with the choice of being arrested or signing the ticket, he signed it with the words “I never said that.” I never said that.

For the uninitiated and dumb, a ticket is an allegation – it is the officer’s claim that Powers said these things in a crowd. Powers denied it then, denies it now. This is why we have trials. This is why Powers pleaded no contest. Since Buffalo Bean has the ticket, I trust he also has the documents showing its disposition.

UPDATE: Here are two guys in suits calling on Jon Powers to release the Form 990 that was due today and has been filed, and will answer all of their questions. Fucking cheap stunt from two guys who probably never gave two thoughts for kids in Iraq before yesterday when the cameras were rolling.

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UPDATE: Robert Harding says Davis had three attacks against Powers – youth, disorderly conduct, and War Kids money. He’s out of ammo. All that stands between Jack Davis and obscurity now is a couple weeks’ time.

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Clearing Up What this Is

9 Aug

This is my site. It is my home. I write this for free, and I don’t charge you for anything.

As a result, you do not dictate to me what I write, how I write it, or when I write. You don’t get your money back. I, in turn, do not dictate to you anything. If there is a worthy cause or an event that I choose to promote, I will ask you to go. I will not instruct you to do anything.

Certainly some may infer from my choice of story how I feel or what I think about a topic, and that should be pretty self-evident by now.

I most likely won’t publish everything you want me to publish, but be clear that I owe no one “equal time” or an equal measure of outrage any more than any other editorial writer or broadcaster does. I very seldom meta-blog, but in the last 24 hours I’ve had two people give me shit about what I post and how I post, and I’m putting the kibosh on that right now.

If you don’t like it because I’m not sufficiently outraged by the fact that Powers’ campaign didn’t do rapid response to the smear in McCarthy’s column, by all means write it on your blog, or go commiserate with Buffalo Bean and have a Republican circle-jerk of outrage over there. If you don’t like it because I haven’t posted as vigorously about John Edwards’ affair, by all means go post about it at Red State or call 1-800-282-2882 between 12 – 3 PM weekdays.

For instance, I didn’t even print the fact that Jack Davis has admitted that his payments of $5,000 each to the wives of the chairmen of the Independence Party in Erie and Monroe Counties were bribes, and apologized for them. The Monroe IP called them bribes and shitcanned the party chair and his wife. Tony Orsini of Venice, FL hasn’t been shitcanned yet, but the fact that Davis is now acknowledging that they were bribes doesn’t bode well for the powerful man. Only a few weeks ago, they tried to explain them away by saying that Mrs. Orsini was selling names of Democratic “players” who had “worked with the Independence Party in the past“. Davis’ campaign manager said,

The payments were meant to help build relationships with members of the Independence Party, which the Davis campaign sees as an important group for winning the election, according to Davis’ campaign manager, Luke Vaughn.

Those payments will continue, even though the Colons have left the party, Vaughn said Monday. “The goal of the payments was to help build relationships with Independence Party members, and that effort continues,” Vaughn said.

Now, Davis says:

his payments to the wives of Independence Chairment Anthony L. Orsini Jr. of Erie County and Rafael Colon of Monroe County for “consulting” services constituted a “mistake.”

“I am severing my relationships with the consultants in question and apologize for my part in the spectacle,” he said.

There’s a reason why Davis is apologizing now, and it has more to do with the fact that people in the district are “apathetic” to him in 2008 than it has to do with whether attempting to bribe the IP chairs was ok in April, but bad in August.

This blog isn’t the newspaper. I can’t and won’t print everything. If that affects your state of mind in some way, I suggest that you get over it or click away.

The Curly Howard of Local Politics

8 Aug

I’m still laughing about this article outlining the fact that Erie County Independence Party Chairman Tony Orsini is simultaneously registered to vote in Erie County, and also claims a homestead exemption on his Florida mobile home, entitling him to a $400 property tax break.

When the News called him on it, Orsini told them that he’d give up the Florida tax break in order to remain active in Erie County politics and come into compliance with the law. He said he’d “get that back in a fundraiser.”

When Florida authorities asked him about it, however, Orsini told them that he’d forfeit his Erie County voting registration in order to maintain the property tax exemption.

Either way, he’s violating New York law by claiming Florida as his domicile, and he’s violating Florida law by still being registered to vote in New York.

Orsini’s explanation?

he had been confused on his application by the terms “domicile” and “homestead,” and that accounted for the mistake.

That’s beyond hilarious. What’s disappointing though is that Orsini as head of a minor party that seldom runs its own candidates and instead lives off of cross-endorsements. Pay in to “Friends of Orsini”, but an ad on some political website, maybe hire his wife’s “company” based in that Florida trailer, and bingo, you’ve got a shot at a minor party line. He wields a power that is completely out of proportion to IP enrollment, and enriches himself and his friends and family.

Monroe County IP Chair Resigns over Davis' "Bribes"

29 Jul

From the Buffalo News comes this update to a story you read here first.

The chairman of the Monroe County Independence Party has resigned after his wife accepted $5,000 in what party officials call “bribe money” from the campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Jack Davis.

Rafael Colon, a Rochester resident who works in a Batavia factory, quit his local and state positions after Monroe County Independence Party officials confronted him over the payment, according to Walter Schiemann, interim chairman.

“It’s all about what we call the bribe money from Jack Davis,” Schiemann said. “I’m not going to let this party fall into hands like that.”

The Buffalo News reported July 18 that Colon’s wife had received $5,000 from Davis under her maiden name for “campaign consulting.” The wife of Anthony L. Orsini, chairman of the Erie County Independence Party, also received $5,000 from Davis for “campaign consulting” through a firm she established in the couple’s Florida mobile home earlier this year.

Colon and Orsini are the party’s two most influential chairmen in the 26th Congressional District, now represented by the retiring Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence. The party has nominated Anthony A. Fumerelle, a Kenmore attorney and Orsini’s godson, as its candidate for the post.

How is it that Colon is gone, but Orsini’s not? Is he Teflon, or what?

Schiemann said Monday that Colon evaded party officials for eight days as they attempted to discuss the situation. When he finally returned his call, Schiemann said, he told Colon he had done wrong and needed to resign.

“We can’t get them out of the party,” he said of the Colons, “but we can keep them from having any power.”

He also said the fact that the payments were made to Colon’s wife under her maiden name of Blanca Semidey underscored the party’s concerns over their questionable nature.

“It’s definitely a bribe — absolutely,” Schiemann said, adding that the resignation may satisfy party officials and preclude further discussions with the Monroe County district attorney.

But BP, you ask, don’t other candidates give to Orsini, too?

Ah yes, dear reader, they most certainly do. But there is a world of difference between giving a donation to “Friends of Tony Orsini” or “Friends of Rafael Colon” and giving to “Coastal Consulting” and “Blanca Semidey” in an effort to evade detection of the payment.