The money raised and spent by DA candidates; other campaign account updates — Updated

Candidates for office in the September 13th primary were required to file their 32-Day Pre-Primary financial reports by last Friday, August 12.  The major primary in Erie County is for District Attorney.

After starting off in January with a flurry of loans ($140,000), personal and family contributions ($39,750), and a goodly number of individual contributions, Acting DA Michael Flaherty immediately showed the seriousness of his effort. As noted on this blog last January and more recently in the Buffalo News, a substantial amount of Flaherty’s individual contributions came from his office staff.  The News pegged the number at $73,000, which is about 43 percent of the non-loan, non-personal/family cash raised.

Since January Flaherty’s fundraising has trailed off, with just $32,819 collected in the past seven months. For comparison, endorsed Democratic candidate John Flynn raised $32,263 in the past four weeks.

As the January blog post noted, the largest chunk of DA staff cash came from certain staffers who were promoted by Flaherty. The list includes:

  • Donna Milling, first Assistant DA and chief ethics officer – contributed $2,000
  • Paul Bonanno, chief of the Public Integrity Unit – contributed $2,000
  • Michael Hillary, chief of the Appeals Bureau – contributed $500
  • Colleen Curtin Gable, chief of the Homicide Bureau – contributed $1,750
  • Christopher Belling, chief trial counsel – contributed $3,600

Here is a summary of where the Democratic DA candidates’ treasuries were as of August 8th:

                     Raised since July 11                        Balance, as of August 8

Michael Flaherty                              $11,340                                 $241,567

John Flynn                                          $32,263                                 $127,570

Mark Sacha                                         $8,227                                   $9,517

Flaherty’s balance comes with an asterisk because a portion of the $40,000 loan from campaign finance chairman James Eagan will need to be repaid before the primary election to keep within legal contribution limits.

There is also a Conservative Party primary for DA involving Flynn and the Republican endorsed candidate, Joseph Treanor. Treanor apparently committed to self-funding his campaign, and so far he is following through.  In the past four weeks Treanor raised nothing.  He has a balance of $673 in his account.

The News story highlighted the views of the candidates concerning the solicitation of campaign funds from the appointed staff of the DA’s office. Flaherty’s campaign fell back on the standard “no one was pressured to contribute” line, along with a campaign operative attacking Mark Poloncarz for contributions he received from county government appointees.  Flynn said that he would not solicit staff contributions and would return any that were volunteered.

The News story described Mark Sacha’s view on staff donations as “nuanced.“My position on it is that, if elected, I would not prevent employees from giving, but I would take a position that I would not solicit any employee of the office.” Perhaps this is why he said it that way:  State Board of Elections campaign contribution records show that, at the time Sacha was an assistant DA, he and his family contributed $700 to DA Frank Clark.  In the year that Frank Sedita first ran for DA, in 2008, Sacha family members contributed $1,525 to Sedita.

The Democratic primary for DA will most likely determine who the next Erie County District Attorney will be. Mailers will be flying and TV ads will fill the end of summer.  In an election where the turnout is likely to be about fifteen percent, however, in the end it will all come down to which campaign can do the best job of identifying those voters, soliciting their support , and getting them out to the  voting booths.

Here is a summary for the contestants in some other major local primaries.                                         

State Senate, 60th District – incumbent Mark Panepinto not running

                     Raised since July 11                        Balance, as of August 8

Democratic primary

Al Coppola                          $8,598                                           $18,707

Amber Small                      $10,624                                        $55,382

Republican primary

Chris Jacobs                        $24,251                                       $477,756

Kevin Stocker                    No financial report on State BOE website as of August 15, 2016

State Assembly, 143rd District – incumbent Angela Wozniak not running

                     Raised since July 11                        Balance, as of August 8

Democratic primary

Kristy Mazurek                    $3,822                                          $3,553

Monica Wallace                   $13,356                                      $49,116

State Supreme Court, Eighth Judicial District – two to be elected

Candidates for State Supreme Court are not required to file anything other than periodic reports until we reach the 32-day pre-general election deadline.  Democratic candidate Lynn Keane has chosen to file a 32-day pre-primary election report even though there is no primary election for these offices.  Her report shows that she had raised $11,257 since July 11.  Her account had a balance of $123,185 as of August 8.

Republican Mary Slisz filed her required July 15, 2016 report, showing a balance of $203,101.

John DelMonte, who was a Democratic candidate for Supreme Court in 2014 and lost to Justice Frederick Marshall, has created a 2016 campaign account for a Supreme Court race.  Talk on the street is that both Mr. DelMonte and Daniel Furlong, also a Democrat, have been discussing their potential 2016 candidacy with the Erie County Republican leadership.