July 15th was the deadline for local and state elected officials and political candidates to submit financial disclosure forms for their past six months of political financial activity. Diving into that data is almost like opening Christmas presents for political aficionados. While there have been some legal distractions the past few weeks, Team Pigeon seems to have gotten back together for at least one gig. The strange thing though, it isn’t to challenge Mark Poloncarz or to attempt to take control of the Erie County Legislature. The band is back together for a Family Court race.
There is a newly created Family Court seat open in Erie County this year. It pays well ($159,900) with the usual government perks and a ten year term. But the judge only gets to appoint a small staff and they kind of need some qualifications, so it is hardly a patronage haven.
There are three candidates contesting the Democratic and Republican Party nominations. This gets a little confusing. Kelly Brinkworth has the Democratic endorsement; Brenda Freedman is the Republican endorsee; and Team Pigeon is supporting Michele Brown. Two other candidates have filed petitions for the Democratic primary, Joseph Jarzembek and Katie Nichols Harrod. Brinkworth and Freedman are contesting the Conservative, Working Families and Independence nominations. Freedman, Brinkworth and Brown are in a Green Party contest. There are some petition challenges pending.
Here is some interesting information about Team Pigeon’s Michele Brown campaign and the financial disclosure of the Brown for Family Court committee:
- As of July 15th, Ms. Brown had $125,205 in her campaign account, more than the amount that Freedman ($64,791) and Brinkworth ($38,048) had combined.
- Brown has raised nothing from individuals, corporations, other candidates, etc.
- Brown loaned herself a total of $60,000 in three different loans.
- Brown has also received a $100,000 loan from her husband, Eugene Cunningham.
- The Brown campaign paid $10,000 to LSA Strategies LLC, the consulting firm operated by Steve Casey. (Just wondering, is Chris Grant a partner in that firm?)
- The Brown campaign paid $4,000 to political consultant Maurice Garner.
- Grassroots of Buffalo was paid $750.
- The Brown campaign paid $2,000 for petition circulation to Louis Turchiarelli, who has previously petitioned for at least one Pigeon-supported candidate in Niagara Falls, an effort that stirred some controversy.
- The Brown campaign paid $5,568 to the committee of David Hartzell, Clarence Town Supervisor, for petition work. Why is the campaign of the Republican town supervisor in the business or circulating petitions for other candidates? Looking at the dollar amounts that were paid to “consultants” to the Hartzell committee, it looks like they turned a nice profit. There are contribution limits that apply to various offices and it may be that $5,568 exceeds the legal limit that the Brown for Family Court committee may give to Hartzell’s committee.
- The Brown campaign gave $1,500 to the committee supporting Christine Bove, a candidate for West Seneca supervisor in the upcoming Democratic primary. Bove allies also circulated Brown petitions. This one has an interesting twist. Steve Casey is working on the redevelopment of the former Seneca Mall site in West Seneca and it would certainly be nice to have some connection to the town supervisor. But the incumbent supervisor is Sheila Meegan, the daughter of Chris Walsh, and Walsh is Steve Pigeon’s mentor. So the question is, why would Casey be working with an opponent of the Meegan-Walsh-Pigeon alliance?
- Casey and Kristy Mazurek, of Pigeon’s WNY Progressive Caucus fame, carried petitions for Brown.
- Pigeon ally Joe Makowski, who resigned his State Supreme Court seat in 2009 , is assisting in the management of the campaign, operating out of his law office.
We know that mistakes sometimes happen in the preparation of committee financial disclosures (see Caucus, WNY Progressive; and Freedom, WNY). Team Pigeon candidate’s for Family Court is Michele Brown, with all the baggage those connections bring with them. This is an interesting one to watch. Next financial disclosure reports are due August 10th.
Some other information of note on financial disclosure reports
Here are some highlights from other financial disclosures:
- In the race for Erie County Executive, Mark Poloncarz had $651,435 in the bank as of July 15th. The Republican candidate, Ray Walter, had $52,357 in his county executive account, plus $9,825 in his Assembly account. So depending on which numbers you use, Poloncarz has between 10 and 12 times the campaign kitty that Walter has.
- In one of the competitive County Legislature races (the 5th District) Republican Guy Marlette has $50,893 in his account while incumbent Democrat Tom Loughran has only $4,398.
- In the 8th District, Republican incumbent Ted Morton has $12,049 while his Democratic challenger Debby Liegl has raised $10,204.
- In the 4th District Democrat Todd Potter has raised $7,012 while incumbent Republican Kevin Hardwick has $18,433 in the bank.
- District Attorney Frank Sedita has $174,293 in his campaign account, probably in preparation for an upcoming race for State Supreme Court.
- The other likely Supreme Court candidate, Republican Emilio Colaiacovo, has $86,021 in his account.
- It appears that the bi-partisan nominations for Sedita and Colaiacovo are not yet a done deal.
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