Jan 31


Councilmen violating campaign finance law

Wyatt, Wingo failed to file disclose reports for over two years.

Three of Buffalo’s Common Council members are behind on filing campaign finance disclosure statements, the latest of which was due Jan. 18.

Or, rather, they were behind. 

When Investigative Post started asking about their missing filings last week, at least two of them began trying to catch up.

When we checked the state election board’s online records shortly after the Jan. 18 deadline, we found two city legislators — Rasheed Wyatt and Ulysees Wingo — hadn’t filed since 2019.  That was the last year Buffalo Council members were on the ballot. A third, David Rivera, hadn’t filed since July 2020.

A candidate’s campaign committee is required to file at least two reports every year, and five more in years the candidate is running for office. Failure to do so is not just bad bookkeeping: It’s against the law. Failure to file is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 for one missed filing and up to $10,000 for three or more missed filings in a year.

The farthest out of compliance was the University District’s Wyatt, who chairs the Council’s Finance Committee and is rumored to be considering a run for city comptroller in 2023. 

Wyatt’s campaign committee’s last report was June 2019, just before that year’s Democratic primary. Because he was on the ballot in 2019, Wyatt should have filed four more reports that year — a regular July report, plus two reports before the general election and one afterward. None of those were on record.

Wyatt was also missing mandatory January and July reports for 2020 and 2021. There was no sign of a Jan. 18 report, either. That left Wyatt nine reports behind.

When asked about the missing filings, Wyatt told Investigative Post he thought he was current, but that his treasurer had trouble with the state board’s online filing system. 

The board’s spokesman, John Conklin, told Investigative Post there was no evidence Wyatt’s treasurer had tried to make filings over the past two-and-a-half years. However, Conklin said, after Investigative Post spoke to the council member, Wyatt’s treasurer did reach out to the board for help with filing past reports. And, sure enough, two of the missing reports appeared over the weekend.

The second-worst scofflaw was Wingo, of the Masten District. Wingo hadn’t filed since November 2019, just before that year’s general election. In all, he’d missed six mandatory filings, including the report due Jan. 18. 

Like Wyatt, Wingo told Investigative Post his campaign staff had trouble using the board’s website to file reports. 

“Not much has been moving in my account since the last time we filed, but we’re definitely working on it,” Wingo said. “I’m not making up any excuses. It’s just a matter of getting in sync with the board of elections.

Conklin said there was no indication Wingo’s committee had tried to file since he was contacted by Investigative Post, and no new filings have posted online.

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The Niagara District’s Rivera — the majority leader and chair of the Police Oversight Committee — didn’t file either of the two reports required last year, according to the board’s records. Nor did the board have a Jan. 18 filing for Rivera. However, Rivera’s campaign treasurer told Investigative Post last week they’d be up to date by the weekend. By Saturday evening, they were.

North District’s Joe Golombek, South’s Chris Scanlon, Delaware’s Joel Feroleto, Fillmore’s Mitch Nowakowski, Lovejoy’s Bryan Bollman and Ellicott’s Darius Pridgen were all in compliance as of Friday. 

Council seats are on the ballot in 2023. Scanlon had the most cash on hand — just over $51,000. Bollman had the least, with just over $3,800.