Chuck Swanick and Terribleness

Chuck Swanick skulked back into the private sector and out of government in the aftermath of the epic disaster that was the county fiscal meltdown of 2004 – 2005. He went back to his job with CSX, but saw an opportunity last year when State Senator Mark Grisanti voted in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The opportunity was that Swanick could be the conservative Catholic homophobic Democratic candidate and challenge Grisanti. He enlisted the help of local scheissmeister Steve Pigeon, fresh off of a cush State Senate job under his protege-turned-convict Pedro Espada. This means that every hack with a (D) after their name who has a beef with Len Lenihan’s Erie County Democratic Committee had been enlisted in the Pigeon/Swanick cause. 

Swanick, in expressing his disgust and opposition to same-sex marriage, quickly received the endorsement of execrable Ralph Lorigo-led jobs club known as the “Conservative Party” (which is famously inconsistent in its supposed automatic withholding of support for candidates who back same-sex marriage – see Kennedy, Tim). 

What’s so conservative about Swanick? His opponent, Mike Amodeo reminds us of that, as Chairperson of the Erie County Legislature, Swanick requested $4.78 Million for the Legislature’s 2004 budget. Included in Swanick’s bloated budget request were funds for 50 patronage employees. In addition, the Legislature stashed away another $2.7 Million for member items, more commonly known as pork projects. In comparison, the County Legislature’s 2012 budget is $2.96 Million, with no money allocated for member items. The Legislature staff has also since been right-sized to almost half the employees of the Swanick era

“On the eve of the Red/Green Budget Crisis, Chuck Swanick’s focus was on pork and patronage for his political fiefdom,” said his challenger, Amodeo. “Voters have no interest in returning to the days of wasteful spending.”

During Swanick’s tenure at the Legislature, Erie County’s cash reserves dwindled down to a paltry $4 Million. In addition, Swanick helped squander $250 Million of proceeds from the County’s tobacco settlement. Swanick also voted to allow Erie County to sell the Erie County Medical Center to itself, incurring another $200 Million long-term liability in exchange for an approximately $85 Million short-term benefit. New York State eventually determined that Erie County needed “adult supervision” and implemented a control board. 

“When Chuck Swanick left office in 2005, County finances were in complete shambles,” concluded Amodeo. “Chuck’s decision to campaign as a ‘fiscal conservative’ is an insult to every Erie County resident that had their library closed, services cut and taxes raised.”

Remember all that? You should. It’s what sparked a reasonably serious civic discussion about the future direction of the city and county, and started a local tax revolt of sorts as the county’s share of the sales tax inched up to avoid catastrophe. 

Swanick – a former Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat recently accepted two donations totaling $7,000 from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-equality organization based out of Princeton, New Jersey. Since 2007, NOM has spent millions of dollars across the United States to restrict the rights of LGBT Americans, whom NOM Chairman John Eastman has referred to as ‘barbarians’.

Swanick, a 26 year career politician, also received a contribution of $16,800 from Sean Fieler of Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Fieler, a major Republican donor and hedge fund manager, is chairman of the American Principles Project, whose founder is chairman emeritus of NOM.

 “I am deeply troubled to hear of Chuck Swanick’s taking of campaign funding from NOM, a hate group designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” said Bryan Ball, President of Stonewall Democrats of WNY. “Mr. Swanick’s blatant disregard for the equal rights and protections of every Western New York family he seeks to represent is an offensive assault on the right to freedom we value as Americans. The Democratic Party has always stood to aid the civil rights movement, and hate such as Mr. Swanick’s has no place in our great Party. I am proud of all who stand united against such divisiveness. Never should any part of our great Party support his actions.”

According to NOM’s own press release, the organization “intends to participate in legislative contests throughout the state as part of its $2 million commitment to make sure the voters of New York are able to vote to restore marriage in New York”.

Mike Amodeo supports same-sex marriage. He pledges to take on NYPA to ensure that western New York’s waterfronts continue to improve. He is against hydrofracking and the environmental risks that come from injecting bedrock with water and noxious chemicals to extract natural gas from it.  (Swanick essentially supports fracking). He supports term limits and changing Albany’s careerist culture. (Swanick is the opposite). 

Swanick isn’t a Democrat, and I don’t understand his return to politics, except by noting how he differs from the mainstream Democrat running against him. 


  •  what of rumors that petitions for Swanick were circulated by two high profile,  perennially failed, OPENLY GAY politicos?  with friends like DG and GY, who needs NOM and gay bashers???

  • Paul is commenting on a peculiar brand of self loathing exhibited by a couple of the LGBT community’sworse specimens.    Those two particularly boggle the mind.   In addition local self styled progressive PeterReese and his spouse will also be found among the Swanick circulators.   In fact go down the list of those
    who circulated for Swanick and you’ll find a whole host of stalwarts from City Hall.   He could never havemade the ballot without them.   A wonderful commentary on Byron Brown’s administration and how theyhave treated the LGBT community since taking office.  

  • “(which is famously
    inconsistent in its supposed automatic withholding of support for
    candidates who back same-sex marriage – see Kennedy, Tim). ”

    I don’t think Tim is getting the conservative endorsement this time around.

  • “In addition, the Legislature stashed away another $2.7 Million for member items, more commonly known as pork projects.”

    Why is one man’s pork not as important as another man’s pork? 

  • I have heard that the Republicans and the Conservatives filed no candidate in the new 63rd Senate District. 

  • I heard Chuck supposedly is now proposing legislation to end ‘double dipping” for those who collect public service pensions while working privately.  Oh’ yeah., CXS is regulated, not public,  and he isn,t working anymore.  NEVER MIND, IT’S ALL GOOD.

  • The problem that anyone has with Steve Pigeon evaporates when he supports someone they like.  He’s supported marriage equality heroes like Tim Kennedy, helped Byron Brown and many other minority candidates break historic barriers, was critical in early support for outstanding leaders for our state like Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo.  He’s backed and found candidates that put up great numbers despite overwhelming registration disadvantages like Joe Mesi and Kathy Konst.  As for the constant bringing up of Pedro Espada, he was never charged with any wrongdoing, ever. I would also add that most people do not care about this sort of obsession with inside baseball.

    Chuck Swanick is better than Mark Grisanti on hydrofracking (something very important), health care, education and environmental issues.  As for Mike Amodeo, just like his last run for the State Assembly, there are no specifics on any of his policy proposals anywhere.  They’re playing on trivial ridiculousness and events that happened 8 years ago to avoid having a real debate on what actually matters.

    Shame on anyone that makes a blanket assertion that anyone who supports Chuck Swanick is a homophobe, and uses something as personal as their sexual orientation to attack them.  Swanick’s position is clear, as he said to the Buffalo News, he’s not commenting on the issue because it’s done.  Marriage Equality has become the law of the state and it’s clearly not going to change, it’s beyond a non-factor and it ignores problems that are far more pressing.

    • The presence of Pigeon in this story is convenient from one particular standpoint: wherever there’s a whore of a Democratic candidate, chances are you can smell Steve Pigeon all over him. 

      1. Espada: No, Pigeon wasn’t brought up on any charges. But you’re judged by the company you keep, and he was Espada’s man in the Senate during the coup which led to a Republican usurpation of a Democratic majority. Gosh, why would Dems be disappointed with him?!

      2. Swanick: better than Grisanti on hydrofracking, meaning what? He’d like one more study to be done before he’ll allow it? Amodeo is at least firmly opposed to it. 

      3. Homophobia: when a candidate is funded by a repugnant hate group like the “National Organization for Marriage”, that’s a big deal. When it happens as part of the hate group’s stated goal of stopping or rolling back marriage equality, and of targeting legislators who voted in favor of it, that’s a bigger deal. The Republican House of Representatives has taken 31 votes to repeal Obamacare since it was passed. Don’t tell me anything’s “settled” when that  much money is on the line, as part of a concerted, hate-filled public policy effort.  I can’t imagine NOM is giving Swanick strings-free money in this race at this time. 

      4. Everything else set aside: just Google “Community Based Corrections”. Think about the red/green budget debacle, which took place largely under Swanick’s leadership in the Legislature and his close alliance with Giambra – one that led to him switching parties. This guy is not fit for office, and he’s not fit to return to office. He’s retired from CSX. He’s got a state pension all lined up, presumably. He should go to his house in Florida and retire and leave the poor people of the 60th District and NYS alone. 

      • It angers me when I think of the thousands of people who busted their asses for years to
        make marriage equality happen in New York State that the Democratic State Senate campaign committee is backing this candidacy.   All but one Democratic State Senator
        voted for marriage, all but four Republicans voted against it.  One of those Senators is Mike Gianaris from Queens who voted for it.   Gianaris is head of the Senate campaign
        committee and he is backing Swanick and by backing him you will note that he gave
        considerable money from his personal campaign coffers for Swanick.   Questions ought to
        be raised there.   Gianaris is repudiating his own vote with that contribution.

        As for Dan Jones, he’s a well known Steve Pigeon retainer so I would take nothing he says
        seriously.   And it also angers me when I see openly gay people who tout themselves as leaders of the community taking petitions for a NOM back candidate.   David and Gerhart,
        do either of you have any shame?

        • Nice smug condescension, I won’t get into the ridiculousness that so often comes about from the other side of the Democratic spectrum, but I will say that if you want to label me as a friend of Steve’s, then great, I wear that title proudly.  Steve is a guy who’s taken on the status quo and has supported a number of progressive candidates loyal to the cause of government that works for people.  ‘Retainer’ though, heh, that’s a new one.

          Chuck Swanick has a detailed position on hydrofracking that actually pertains to current legislation, and his years of community involvement give him a pulse on what’s happening in the community as it pertains to education and health care.Marriage equality is done, I won’t take anyone seriously who’s self righteously casts judgement upon people because of their actions in regards to their sexual orientation.  It does the cause of gay rights no good when there is ostracizing for political involvement, these people have made a decision based upon who they think will be the best State Senator, leave their personal lives out of it.

      • 1.  So if your boss is indicted on something you, by a law enforcement investigation, have been proved to have no connection with, then you’re guilty as well.  That’s pretty high standard, and one that really has no practical implication.  It’s guilt by association and, ethically speaking, a long-shot one at best.

        2.  He wants a list of draft rules and regulations before it’s allowed, with more study, or else it’s not allowed, that sounds reasonable to me.  Right now the methods are too dangerous and there’s too many questions, but Amodeo’s position is without policy depth (surprise surprise) and is nothing more than a stunt.  Swanick’s pertains to actual legislation and will be applicable in Albany.

        3.  Marriage equality does not matter because it passed and it’s not changing.  There is no way the Assembly will ever vote to kill it and in no way can either the Assembly nor the Senate override Cuomo’s veto.  That dog hunted, it got the rabbit, why are we fighting over the past?

        4.  I’d rather have a guy who can look at the entirety of his experience, admit he made mistakes and learn from those experiences rather than someone who angrily defends themselves for the sake of looking perfect.  Chuck Swanick’s career was long, and gave him the insight into governing (especially local government) that’s very much needed in the State Legislature.  His CSX pension is private, and he won’t accept a public pension while he’s a State Senator (he put out a press release about it, which was not mentioned because that way he couldn’t be the bad guy).  I’m glad to have him as a candidate.

        • 1. It means that Steve Pigeon knowingly associates with scumbags. Hell, orchestrating a Republican coup of the Senate is a scumbag move by itself. What does all that make him? No self-respecting Democrat should be associating with that person, full stop. 

          2. There are plenty of people who oppose fracking, regardless of pending legislation or study. They oppose it, period, because it’s an environmental “drill baby drill” catastrophe. 

          3. If legislative litigation over marriage equality is done, why is NOW giving tens of thousands to Swanick? Why is Swanick endorsed by the detestable Lorigo clan? 

          4. Swanick hasn’t admitted to any goddamn mistakes, and hell, if he came out and said he was sorry for being a bad government actor for the first 25 years of his government teat-suckling, I might actually respect that. He’s a hack who is all about patronage/jobs/power, and little else. That’s why he and Pigeon get along so well, get it? 

  • I guess that Steve Pigeon was flung out as County leader because of the fabulous job he was doing.   Thatman is a cancer on the body politic of Western New York and you know it.   The sole reason for ChuckSwanick’s candidacy is so Steve Pigeon can extort jobs and money from an evenly divided Senate he hopes.In fact he’s trying to find another.   And sad to say our local Roy Cohn only demonstrated with his support
    of Swanick with those others you cite his total indifference to any issues or principles.  How do you back acandidate whose candidacy was birthed with the National Organization for Marriage a recognized hategroup, but with Pigeon as the midwife all things are possible. 

    • You don’t seem to mind Steve’s support for Tim Kennedy, how about Joe Mesi who fell on a sword for Marriage Equality in 2008 (I was there, it was a factor on the ground)?  It’s been passed largely in part thanks to the work Steve did, including where it was brought to the floor in 2009 because of the Senate deal and then passed because partly thanks to the  outstanding State Senator Tim Kennedy.  Had Kennedy not won, the anti-marriage equality Bill Stachowski would have been defeated by the anti-marriage equality Jack Quinn.  Stop being selective with the outrage.

      • It failed the year before thanks to the work our local Roy Cohn did in the Senate coup.   I
        know it’s not easy defending this slimebag.   But you’ve scored your points with him andwith City Hall. 

      • Dan – you’re on this thread bitching about how mean people are being to poor Steve and poor Chuck, and then you bring up Mesi. Do you remember  the shit Mesi sent out about Michele Iannello? Pigeon and Mesi all but rhetorically beat the living shit out of her, and you’re sitting here being upset because people are actually bringing up Chuck Swanick’s execrable record of patent hackery to argue that he’s unfit for a return to office. 

        Tim Kennedy voted for marriage equality and yet somehow miraculously is not being stabbed in the back by Lorigo. Tim Kennedy and Steve Pigeon also orchestrated the Chris Collins takeover of the county legislator, since we’re bringing up the past. Wow! What a great record of progressive Democratic politics! Being Collins’ dumb muppets!

  • If what Dan Jones says is true and Swanick  has said that he views Marriage Equality as a settled matter and will not vote to raise it again, then NOM is just wasting their money and we should all be glad of that.

    • NOM was the seed money that got the Swanick candidacy started.  They’re not in the habit of throwing their money away.   If the issue concerns you I suggest you contribute to the Amodeo
      candidacy.   And if you live in the 60th Senate District, vote for him.

    • The Buffalo News Website seems to be down at the moment, but tomorrow I’ll link the article where he says as much.  This was from the paper of record in Erie County, not just from my mouth.

  • My favorite Swanick story was in about 1994, when he sent a press release to the newspaper announcing Legislator Swanick had funded an expansion of the Riverwalk. I edited it to refer to the funding as “taxpayer dollars”. He called and went ballistic. I remember asking him “was it your money, Chuck?”.

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