Sep 7


What’s news in government and politics

A new dodge for circumventing campaign finance laws, Poloncarz earns dubious honor, a Conservative Party inquisition, and more.
News and analysis by Geoff Kelly, Investigative Post's political reporter

A digest of noteworthy reporting — some local, some state and some national — from the last week in government and politics:


Campaign finance shenanigans

  • New York Focus reports on a new dodge for candidates who feel constrained by the state’s limits on campaign donations: Accept services from political consultants as loans, then never pay them back
  • New York Focus highlights an example from Rochester, but Byron Brown’s 2021 mayoral campaign pulled the same trick. Brown for Buffalo listed more than $38,000 owed to the Atlanta law firm that represented the campaign in court as an “outstanding loan or liability” for at least a year — long after those fees had by law become a donation that exceeded campaign contribution limits. That “loan” was still on Brown for Buffalo’s books in January, according to the campaign’s filing that month with the state Board of Elections, as were “loans” from other unpaid vendors totaling another $57,000. Confusingly, the January filing showed payments settling those debts in August of last year. In any case, they were gone from Brown for Buffalo’s July filing.
  • Brown for Buffalo’s messy campaign finance filings sent me back to another piece New York Focus published last year, about the utter lack of enforcement of campaign finance law by the state Board of Elections. Asked how many enforcement actions the board had taken against candidates who failed to file required reports, the chief enforcement counsel responded, “I can’t sugarcoat it: it’s zero.”

Conservative Party raiders

  • Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo wants a judge to throw out the results of June’s primary election in the Town of Evans, arguing newly enrolled Conservative Party members who voted in the election had mounted a “party invasion” to steal the party’s ballot line from the candidate he’d endorsed. Lorigo already lost a bid to kick the invaders out of the party.
  • Back in May — before the primary and before he went to court— Lorigo summoned those he suspected of being party raiders to his West Seneca law offices for a “hearing” to determine whether the new registrants were “in sympathy with the principles of the Conservative Party.” Here’s a copy of the invitation to an inquisition:

Poloncarz earns dubious recognition

  • The Buffalo News’s Charlie Specht summarized Mark Poloncarz’s “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” month of August.
  • The latest contretemps landed Poloncarz on City and State’s weekly list of “biggest losers.” 
  • Poloncarz’s lousy August has prompted Republican challenger, Chrissy Casilio, to start tweeting again — a lot. She’d taken a bit of a break from that platform after we reported in March on her pre-candidacy predilection for Q Anon-style conspiracy theories.

And in other news …

  • The state comptroller found the City of Niagara Falls delivered a required annual sexual harassment prevention training to just a quarter of city employees interviewed. The comptroller’s audit discovered the city’s fire department canceled the required annual training for its 131 uniformed personnel.
  • Republicans flipped three previously Democratic Congressional seats in Long Island and the Hudson Valley in 2022, and Politico reports House Republicans — led by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of the Adirondacks — are focusing on New York as they seek to hold on to their slim majority next year.
  • ProPublica’s latest in-depth investigation uncovers how the U.S. Navy spent billions on the littoral combat ship, or LCS —  nicknamed by sailors the “little crappy ship” — whose weapons systems often failed and that persistently broke down at sea.


Investigative Post

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