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Money In Politics:

Biggest Trump, GOP contributors in WNY

Published October 25, 2020

Donald Trump’s re-election effort is being funded primarily through his campaign committee, two affiliated political action committees and the Republican National Committee, which is directing money to GOP Senate and House candidates, as well. Ken Kruly, Investigative Post researcher and publisher of Politics and Other Stuff, compiled contributions from residents of Erie,  Niagara and Chautauqua counties that were reported to the Federal Elections Commission from 2017, when Trump formed his re-election committee, to this September.

The numbers: Largest local donors

Name Location Amount
Mark Rivard Buffalo $67,000
Anthony Gioia Buffalo $40,400
Jon Williams Buffalo $35,000
Charles and Penny Banta Buffalo $35,000
Mark Hamister Dalray, Fla. $13,800
William Schaab III Grand Island $12,930
Leslie Diamond Clarence Center $11,190
Louise Hochreiter Williamsville $8,400
Dr. Gary Gronser Williamsville $7,830
Linda Hall Frewsburg $7,499
Pedro Perez Buffalo $6,989
Owen Chrisoferson Buffalo $6,500
Kenneth Stuart Buffalo $6,113
Daniel Gernatt Angola $6,000
Peter Kinkel Clarence $5,950
Christopher Ryan North Tonawanda $5,773
William Irr North Tonawanda $5,625
Peter Vranjes Lackawanna $5,319
Ellen Wielopolski Buffalo $5,088
John Berg Kenmore $5,073
Deann Surface Lancaster $5,000
Jenna Goldsmith Buffalo $5,000

Talking Points

  • Trump’s campaign, his related PACs and the RNC have received 277  contributions of $1,000 or more from local donors, totaling $813,875.
  • More than half of the local donations, $499,968, were made to the RNC. Most of the rest, $290,233, were given to Donald J. Trump for President.
  • Twenty-two donors gave at least $5,000, led by Mark Rivard, a retired teacher, who gave $67,000. Almost half Rivard’s donations were directed through the Robinson Credit Shelter Trust of Amherst.
  • Three others contributed more than $30,000. They include Anthony Gioia, a longtime prolific GOP fundraiser and contributor; Charles and Penny Banta of Mercury Capital Partners; and Jon Williams, developer and waste management magnate.
  • Some notable names who typically give to Republican candidates are missing from the list of contributors of $1,000 or more. The missing include Carl Paladino, Jeremy Jacobs and Louis P. Ciminelli. It’s possible they gave through other campaign committees; Paladino said he’s contributed to Trump, but failed to provide Investigative Post with details.  A search of Federal Election Commission records indicates no contributions from Paladino. 
  • Although he officially resides in Delray Beach, Florida, we included Mark Hamister in the analysis because of his extensive business holdings and civic involvement in Western New York.

Zip codes with the most donations include:

    • 14226, Amherst, including Snyder and Eggertsville, $108,183.
    • 14221, Williamsville, $44,585.
    • 14209, Buffalo’s Delaware District, $43,822.
    • 14228, West Amherst, north of the UB campus, $43,484.
    • 14210, Downtown Buffalo, $40,447.


Ken Kruly and Jim Heaney discuss local campaign contributions to the presidential campaigns of Trump and Biden.

Listen to Podcast

Next week: Local voter turnout in recent presidential elections.