Jul 13


Why Tony Masiello is supporting Byron Brown

Buffalo's former mayor has 60,000 reasons to support the incumbent. That's the value, in dollars, of Masiello's contract to lobby Albany on behalf of the Brown administration.

When Mayor Byron Brown announced his write-in campaign inside the Statler Terrace Room last month, he was surrounded by supporters that included one of Buffalo’s most recognizable political figures.

As a fiery Brown pledged to press on despite losing the Democratic primary to India Walton, standing behind him, just to his right, was Anthony Masiello — the man Brown replaced as mayor 15 years earlier.  

In the weeks since Brown’s announcement, Masiello has made the local media rounds, offering his thoughts on the mayor’s race and, at times, acknowledging his support for Brown’s write-in campaign.

“I talk to the mayor regularly and know that he is taking this seriously,” Masiello said in an interview with The Buffalo News following Brown’s write-in campaign announcement. “He has his own way of doing things, but will not be caught with his guard down.” 

What the former mayor hasn’t said is that he still has a direct connection to City Hall — and the Brown administration — by virtue of his ongoing work as a paid lobbyist with the firm Masiello, Martucci & Associates. His firm is paid $60,000 a year under a contract that started in March 2019.

Masiello has also been a generous contributor to Brown’s campaign committees. Since 2006, Brown has received nearly $20,000 in donations from Masiello, his lobbying firm or the former mayor’s still-active campaign account. In-kind contributions total an additional $4,600.

Masiello’s support has also included robocalls he made to voters on Brown’s behalf in the days leading up to the June 22 Democratic primary.

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Masiello declined to discuss his support of Brown’s ongoing campaign or his lobbying firm’s relationship with City Hall. During a telephone call with a reporter from Investigative Post, Masiello said he did not have time to talk at that moment but would do an interview later. 

The following day, Kevin Keenan, president and chief executive officer of Keenan Communications Group, a division of Masiello, Martucci & Associates, instead sent an email that read in part: Masiello, Martucci & Associates is proud to represent the City of Buffalo in Albany.”

Masiello’s political career started in 1971 when he was elected to the Buffalo Common Council. He moved on to the state Senate, where he served from 1981 through 1993. He was elected Buffalo’s 61st mayor in 1993 and served three terms before announcing in 2005 that he would not seek reelection.

The following year — the same year Brown succeeded him as mayor — Masiello joined a lobbying firm that was renamed Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates. Masiello was named president, a title he still holds. 

Masiello is partners in the lobbying firm with former Town of Tonawanda Republican Chairman Victor Martucci and former deputy Erie County Executive Carl Calabrese, a Republican, who worked at the firm until his retirement last year.

In addition to the City of Buffalo, Masiello, Martucci & Associates provides lobbying services to more than a dozen clients across Western New York, including the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, the Erie County Medical Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. 

Since 2013, Masiello has also served on the Peace Bridge Authority as an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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The Common Council approved Masiello’s original lobbying contract on March 5, 2019. Records on file with the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics — a state entity that oversees ethics and lobbying regulations — show  the contract was extended “upon mutual agreement of both parties” in 2020, and again earlier this year.  

In 2019 and 2020, records show the lobbying firm focused its efforts on procuring tasers for the Buffalo Police Department. In 2020 and the first four months of this year, reports filed by Masiello’s firm show it lobbied state lawmakers on budget and funding matters, with contacts being made with representatives in the offices of the governor, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and state senators Sean Ryan and Tim Kennedy.

Masiello has for many years maintained another connection to City Hall through campaign contributions to Brown dating to 2006. Since then, Brown’s campaign committees — Brown for Buffalo and Mayor Brown’s Leadership Council — have received cash donations totaling $19,353 from Masiello, his lobbying firm or the former mayor’s own campaign committee, Friends of Anthony Masiello. That’s in addition to $4,600 in in-kind contributions.

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