More Pigeon legal trouble?; Stocker’s complaints; Flaherty campaign’s management

Here is a collection of some facts and heard-on-the-streets items.

More Pigeon legal problems?

We could be seeing more legal trouble for Steve Pigeon if stories on the street are to be believed. This time the focus may shift to the long-awaited campaign finance investigation into the shenanigans of Pigeon’s WNY Progressive Caucus.

To refresh your memory about the infamous political committee, here is a thumbnail summary of what and who may be involved. Greater details are available on a previous post of this blog.

  • The WNY Progressive Caucus was created in 2013 to assist in electing/defeating certain candidates in that year’s Democratic primary elections for Erie County legislative seats and Sheriff.
  • The Committee raised $269,130, mostly in big chunks of cash from a small handful of contributors including Pigeon (a contribution of $6,580 plus $90,000 in loans); Senator Tim Kennedy ($85,000); two corporate contributions totaling $30,000 from AJ Wholesale (state law limits annual corporate contributions to $5,000); Palladian LLC ($5,000), a firm whose legal matters have come up in the Michalek/Pigeon indictment stories; Cycaz LCC ($5,000), a business with unknown activities that happens to have the same address as Palladian; and $5,000 from Buffalo City Center Venture.
  • A 2013 post-primary report indicated a $25,000 loan to the committee from Landon LLC, a Pigeon creation. Subsequent financial reports do not note that liability and do not report that the loan was repaid.
  • The Committee spent $237,497 in the 2013 elections, with the largest payment ($102,000) going to Marketing Tech for mailing services. Buying Time LLC was paid $57,590 for TV ads.
  • The WNY Progressive Caucus still exists but has had no reported activity since July 2015. That report showed an outstanding balance of $15,000 owed to Marketing Tech.
  • The treasurer of the committee was Kristy Mazurek, a close Pigeon ally. Mazurek is thought to have been very cooperative with investigators in the WNY Progressive Caucus matter. For reasons unknown, she has filed as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the 143rd Assembly District.

The issues with Pigeon-directed committees have always revolved around the mysterious ways that money arrives in large amounts, most often shortly before the election. An investigative report would likely clarify such issues concerning the WNY Progressive Caucus. If that is the only Pigeon committee they are looking at, however, the investigators may be missing a whole lot of other relevant stuff.

Stocker’s complaints

Perennial Republican candidate Kevin Stocker is once again running hard for the Republican nomination for State Senator in the 60th District, while simultaneously going for the Conservative line. Stocker in 2014 defeated former Senator Mark Grisanti in the Republican primary for that seat, only to lose to Marc Panepinto. Panepinto is not running for re-election. There is a Democratic primary between Amber Small and Al Coppola.

Stocker this week took his campaign to another level (not sure if it is up or down) by sending a letter to U.S. Attorney William Hochul and FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam Cohen to raise issues about alleged strong-arm tactics by representatives of the Conservative Party aiming to eliminate Stocker from contesting the Conservative Party nomination. Stocker ties this to Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo, but that might not be correct. Stocker’s letter also suggested that his Republican opponent, County Clerk Chris Jacobs, funneled an illegal campaign contribution to the Jeb Bush campaign through a Jacobs staffer. The feds thus far have not publically commented on the allegations.

Stocker is determined to win the Senate seat, but unless his complaints have any substance he is likely to lose both September primaries.

Flaherty’s campaign management

Just six weeks before the September 13th Democratic primary, Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty’s campaign requires some adjustments following the departure of campaign consultant Rich Horner. According to Flaherty’s July 15th campaign financial disclosure, Horner had been paid $22,400 from January through July. Horner also has some form of employment with the New York State Democratic Committee.

While the Flaherty campaign is evidently trying to spin the story that Horner was always expected to leave the Flaherty campaign at this point, a more plausible version of the story is that strong and frequent complaints by Erie County Democratic leadership about having a State Committee employee/consultant working against the endorsed candidate of the local party organization finally did the trick.

Also on the Flaherty campaign, DA staffers Amy Hughes and Joanne Pasceri, the latter formerly news anchor at Channel 7, both circulated Democratic petitions for Flaherty, who was also pressed into paying for petition circulators because of his lack of party organization assistance. When Ms. Pasceri was hired in February the News reported that “Flaherty made it clear that Pasceri … will be responsible for the DA’s office only and will not in any way be involved in work for his election campaign. ‘I already have a campaign press secretary,’ Flaherty said, ‘and those two lines won’t cross.’” Well, sort of not, maybe, not sure.