January 2019 campaign financials; Brown’s departure as state Democratic Chairman

Things start to take shape for the 2019 local elections with a review of the campaign committee financial reports required of all committees, due at the State Board of Elections. The most relevant of the reports are for elected officials or candidates who will be running for office in 2019, so this is a brief report on those people.

The reports reflect transactions through January 11th and were required to be filed by January 15th. Here is a summary of some of the major candidates’ committees:

  • County Executive Mark Poloncarz has $445,074 in the bank already for his upcoming re-election campaign.
  • One prominent potential Republican challenger to Poloncarz, State Senator Chris Jacobs, has $345,746 in his campaign treasury. Senator Jacobs has substantially self-funded his previous campaigns and would likely do so again if he decides for run County Executive.
  • Another potential CE challenger, County Legislator Ed Rath, has $46,085 in his accounts.
  • As for the rumored CE candidacy of Laurie Lisowski Frey, she so far does not have a campaign account created.
  • Here are the current campaign committee balances of the incumbent Erie County Legislators. All eleven seats will be on the ballot in November, although only three or four of them may face serious competition. Here are the incumbents:
    • 1st District – Barbara Miller-Williams – $1,449
    • 2nd District – April Baskin — $9,080
    • 3rd District – Peter Savage — $34,946
    • 4th District – Kevin Hardwick — $30,155
    • 5th District – Thomas Loughran — $3,976
    • 6th District – Edward Rath — $46,085
    • 7th District – Timothy Meyers – $1,013
    • 8th District – John Bruso — $3,980
    • 9th District – Lynne Dixon — $17,797
    • 10th District – Joseph Lorigo – No report on file as of January 17
    • 11th District – John Mills — $7,461
  • All nine Buffalo Common Council seats will be on the ballot. Here’s how the incumbents’ campaign accounts stack up:
    • Delaware – Joel Feroleto — $43,075
    • Ellicott – Darius Pridgen — $41,457
    • Fillmore – David Franczyk — $3,160
    • Lovejoy – Richard Fontana — $6,370
    • Masten – Ulysees Wingo – No report filed since January 2018
    • Niagara –David Rivera – No report on file as of January 17
    • North – Joseph Golombek — $35,320
    • South – Christopher Scanlon — $46,494
    • University – Rasheed Wyatt – No report filed since January 2018
  • There will be a race for Buffalo City Comptroller to replace the departing Mark Schroeder. Potential candidates have yet to come forward.
  • There will be several State Supreme Court seats on the ballot in November, but the shape of those races will take some time to develop.
  • This is the year when all at-large and district representatives on the Buffalo School Board will be on the ballot. There are always lots of issues to occupy those campaign agendas. The School Board elections are in May.

Brown departs state Democratic chairmanship without explanation

Last Monday the New York Daily News reported that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown had been replaced as New York State Democratic Chairman by Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs. Jacobs had a previous stint as state chair when Governor David Paterson was in office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave Brown the traditional pat on the back for his service to the party when he announced Brown’s departure and his replacement by Jacobs. Mayor Brown’s office, strangely, offered no explanation for what is going on or why the change is occurring now. Normally state party committees elect their leadership in September.

The Mayor reportedly was not in attendance at the Governor’s State of the State/2019 Budget presentation in Albany this week, an event Brown has regularly attended.

The Democratic Party State Chairmanship has for many years been primarily a figurehead position, with the real power held by the Committee staff, taking their direction from the governor’s office. The Cuomo announcement about the switch in chairs reaffirms that management arrangement.

There has been nothing publically revealed about why Brown is out, so one can only speculate: an impending appointment to some state position for Brown? A negative issue that has the governor looking to distance himself from Brown? Brown wanting to spend more time attending to the City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis? Inquiring minds want to know.

Chris Collins — right for the wrong reason

As the garbage piles up at national monuments and parks; as TSA agents and other federal security personnel go to work without a paycheck; as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s minions cut favors for their banker friends; Trumpworld spins out of control in all sorts of ways. This is all very unsettling, but probably makes Trump pals in Moscow very happy.

With all that is going on with Trump, it’s not hard to overlook some lesser political issues that are serious, but have been pushed out of the limelight by bigger developments. So that you don’t forget the less shiny objects, Congressman Chris Collins has come to the rescue.

The Buffalo News reported last week that Collins (Trump Party, Clarence) has proposed that, for as long as the government shutdown continues, members of Congress should not be paid. “I believe it’s unfair for me to receive pay while the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our country safe are seeing their paychecks delayed. I’ve requested that my paychecks be withheld until essential federal employees, like our Border Patrol and TSA agents who work to protect the safety and security of American citizens, are fully compensated for their duties during this partial government shutdown.”

It is a heck of a proposition for a politician who is reportedly worth more than $50 million and isn’t living paycheck to paycheck. Hold off on a “Go-Fund-Me” drive or a basket raffle for Chris.

Congressman Brian Higgins, in the same News story, pointed out that the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits cutting the pay of members of Congress. The Amendment states: “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Fellow Western New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed describes Collins’ proposal as a publicity stunt.

I can say that for one of the few times since Chris Collins became an elected official, I think he is right –about not getting paid. But I think that he should not get paid because he is less than a real Congressman at this time.

Sure, technically he is a member of the House of Representatives, representing the 27th District of New York. He has one of those lapel pins so indicating.

But in the words of former Congressman and convicted felon Michael Grimm, a member of Congress who is under felony indictment is a pariah among fellow members. No one wants to be associated with an indictee. No one wants to co-sponsor bills. In the minority for the first time, having been stripped of his committee assignments with few friends left, Collins serves no useful purpose. Collins has lost all of his committee assignments because his felony indictment related to insider stock trading. His trial is scheduled for February 2020.

Being banned from committee assignments is a serious matter. It means that he has no influence whatsoever on legislation. Collins is joined in the Republican pariah caucus by fellow federal indictee Duncan Hunter of California and most recently by bigoted Iowa congressman Steve King, who has also lost his committee assignments. Why did it take so long for the Republican House leadership to criticize King’s racist rants?

Collins says that he will for the moment be providing services to constituents, but to whatever extent that is being done, it is being done by staffers without the need of oversight of a House member. Chris has never been the sort of people person who would be directly of assistance for folks trying to navigate the federal bureaucracy. His loyally to Trump makes any sympathy for furloughed federal workers ring hollow. What does his office staff tell the federal employees such as border patrol and TSA agents about when they will get paid?

The thing is, being under indictment, spending time with his lawyers preparing his defense, and having nothing really to do in Congress, Chris Collins is a non-essential federal employee. He will remain so long after the government shutdown is over.

Collins is right, he should not be paid. But then he has the 27th Amendment protecting him from that happening.

Collins’ seedy congressional campaign; final pre-election financial reports

Where, oh where, was Congressman Chris Collins when Steve Bannon flew into town last week to rally Trumpkins on behalf of the Congressman most likely to be in jail a year and a half from now? Bannon’s track record on congressional rescue missions for legally challenged candidates is not what you would call great, including as it does the defeat of accused pedophile Roy Moore in last year’s Alabama Senate race and the defeat of convicted felon Michael Grimm in his Republican House primary in New York City this past June. Continue reading

Pigeongate comes to a conclusion; pre-election campaign financials

It’s all over but the sentencing. Former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon has pled guilty to a bribery charge in State Supreme Court and to a charge of an illegal campaign donation to Governor Cuomo in federal court. State sentencing is scheduled for December. Federal sentencing will occur in January. The two guilty pleas each carry sentences of approximately one year. How those sentences will be coordinated and finally resolved remains to be seen.   I speculated in a previous post about where Pigeon might prefer to serve his time, if he has any say in the question. Continue reading

A look at past election results and the political maneuvering in the suddenly exciting race in the 27th Congressional District

Last week’s indictment of 27th District Congressman Chris Collins and others on insider trading charges has encouraged another look at the possible competitiveness of a district that has been the most overwhelming Republican one in New York State. National House race political gurus have moved their reviews of the district from strong Republican to leaning Republican. That’s not a major shift thus far, but the consensus appears to be that Democratic candidate Nate McMurray’s chances have improved from where they stood just ten days ago. Continue reading