Tea Party Protests Grisanti Fundraiser

An exclusive image of the massive tea party protest of Mark Grisanti’s fundraiser, courtesy of @HeyRaChaCha on Twitter

Ballot Access & Fusion: Keeping New York Corrupt

It’s petition day throughout New York State, and we’ll learn soon enough that Governor Cuomo will have a primary challenge from the left, and that locally, the Democratic race for the 63rd Senate District (Tim Kennedy, incumbent) is going to be especially fun, as will the Republican challenge to Mark Grisanti, as perennial party-switching candidate Rus Thompson clumsily attempts to manipulate the corrupt fusion system to try and oust the sane guy. 

But it’s not only electoral fusion that’s corrupt and awful, so is the petition process itself. It’s hypercomplicated and deliberately designed to be a minefield for the unwary. It’s not only time to abolish the electoral fusion system and shut down the Wilson Pakulas and backroom deals, but also to simplify the ballot access system to make it easier for candidates to run. The rules for petitioning should be simplified and written in plain English, and there should be an alternative whereby a candidate simply pays a fee (set on a sliding scale, depending on the scope of the office).  Hey, if the state needs another source of revenue, there you go. 

As it stands now, our petitioning process should rightly be named the Election Law Attorney Full Employment Act

As for SD-60, where Grisanti will possibly face off with Rus Thompson, here’s the entire campaign in a nutshell.  I don’t know about you, but I’d choose the calm, professional man in the suit over the wildman in a sweatshirt. 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Mark Grisanti Campaigns in Downtown Tantrum

Photo by Jill Greenberg

In a few short years, State Senator Mark Grisanti has accomplished what few of his colleagues manage to do in a lifetime of “public service” – he has made a name for himself.  

Depending on whom you ask, he’s either a hero or an infamous traitor. In a way, that’s something for the senator to be proud of. After all, you don’t become an elected representative to blindly poll your constituents and see which way the wind is blowing.  On the contrary, while you should be responsive and available to constituents, you’re supposed to vote your conscience. It’s at the ballot box where your constituents get to tell you whether they agree. 

Grisanti’s change of heart on same-sex marriage is legendary. For supporters of civil rights, he is a hero for coming around on an issue of fairness and equality. For homophobes, he is a traitor because he had once promised not to support marriage. In the end, Grisanti got a boost, same sex marriage is no longer the huge controversy that it used to be, and he was on the right side of history. 

In the wake of the massacre of 20 first graders in Newtown, CT, Governor Cuomo decided to toughen New York’s laws regarding assault weapons and limiting the number of ammunition rounds that can be kept in a magazine. Some prominent recent shootings – Newtown included – saw gunmen carrying veritable arsenals around to do maximum harm in minimum time.  While Cuomo famously said you don’t need 15 bullets to kill a deer, you also don’t need 11 bullets to kill a 6 year-old

Opponents of the SAFE Act point to mental health treatment as the way to stem mass shootings. Gun control advocates likely believe that to be partly true, but expansion publicly funded mental health treatment and intervention don’t appear anywhere in any Republican manifesto of which I’m aware. So, while elected officials decide what they want to do about mental health services, it’s a good idea to make it as hard as possible for people who shouldn’t have weapons to get them. For this, Grisanti is now practically persona non grata

Before NY SAFE, New York already had among the most restrictive set of gun laws in the country. For instance, you’re not allowed to own a handgun unless you apply for – and receive – a permit to do so. New York still enforced the expired federal assault weapons ban, and NY SAFE strengthened it further.  Rifle magazines are never allowed to contain in excess of 7 rounds of ammunition. Semi-automatic rifles or shotguns with certain features (e.g., pistol grip, flash suppressor, bayonet lug, etc.) are banned, but if you owned one prior to the law’s passage, you  get to keep yours. A person’s weapons may be seized if there is probable cause to believe that the person is about to commit a crime or is mentally unstable. In New York State, the government has discretion in issuing pistol permits or conceal carry permits. In New York City, the rules are more restrictive than that. 

What part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand? 

Well, the right of the people to bear arms is restricted, not infringed. It is up to the courts to determine whether a restriction is a 2nd Amendment infringement. Furthermore, each state’s laws differ on gun ownership and possession. Usually, conservatives cheer that sort of 10th Amendment state’s rights sort of thing, but perhaps that cheering is absent when the states choose policies with which the right does not agree. What came about? Right-wing freakout temper tantrums. 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

It’s gotten so bad that it’s been rumored that Grisanti’s camp has had preliminary talks with the Erie County Democratic Committee about an endorsement. 

At last weekend’s Republican roundtable, tea party rabblerouser and former congressional candidate Mike Madigan apparently lit into Grisanti as “untrustworthy”. Grand Island Paladino shadow Rus Thompson (R-Tantrum) has threatened to primary Grisanti. Attorney and perennial candidate Kevin Stocker is already trying to reprise his 2012 loss.  At the GOP confab, Grisanti warned

…that the Republicans may lose their hold on the majority in the State Senate. Perhaps warning against a bruising GOP primary for his seat, he noted that four key Cuomo programs are targeted for early passage if the Dems gained control of the chamber: abortion of babies in the 9th month of pregnancy, taxpayer funded elections, fusion voting limitations, and the DREAM Act – free tuition for illegal aliens. Notably, the fusion changes Cuomo seeks could spell the end of the Conservative Party, the endorsement Grisanti has coveted and been denied. 

Oh, joy and rapture. An end to the perverse electoral fusion system that runs on graft, patronage, and confusion would be perhaps the best and most significant change that Governor Cuomo could ever bring about. The Conservative Party yanked its support from Grisanti over same-sex marriage, yet it has astonishingly continued to endorse other candidates who voted for it. Because “principles”. 

Given the hate and vitriol the small minority of ultra right-wing neofascists hurl at Grisanti, he’s not wrong to seek out a possible Democratic endorsement. These loons have labeled Grisanti a “RINO”, which is, to them, worse than being a Maoist, and they have set out to destroy him. They insist on conservative purity, which will go over great in a primary and lead to a catastrophic loss in the general election, because in November, people are generally in the middle. We’re not all gun-hugging omniphobes. 

Ask political choad Chuck Swanick how well he did running against Grisanti on an anti-gay platform in 2012. 

So it looks like it might fall to Canisius Professor and County Legislator Kevin Hardwick to primary Grisanti. Before he was a politician, my image of Hardwick was that he was not unlike Grisanti – an old-school, middle-of-the-road, northeastern Republican. Like a Bill Weld, conservative when it came to spending and taxes, and socially laissez-faire. But to challenge Grisanti, Hardwick is going to have to tack right, and I don’t know how that’s going to come across or how well it’ll do for him in November. 

Either way, chances are that Langworthy’s Republican committee isn’t going to be endorsing Grisanti, ever. They might endorse Hardwick if he runs. Time will tell if they get involved in a primary at all. Hardwick says he doesn’t like the NY SAFE Act, either, and that will be the centerpiece of any Republican challenge mounted against Grisanti. I think Grisanti has an opportunity to talk about the SAFE Act and why he voted the way he did. It could be as simple as pointing out just how much positive attention Governor Cuomo has given western New York since that vote. In an Albany run by Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, and Dean Skelos, you won’t be particularly effective by going against them. Just ask Mickey Kearns. (Changing the way Albany is run is a different matter, but no one in government makes a serious go of it for a variety of reasons.) Hardwick could end up in Albany, and then what? Is he going to get the SAFE Act repealed? Of course not. The whole thing is silliness. The entire landscape in that senate district is a massive fit of gun-hugging pique. 

The district that Mark Grisanti represents is a predominately Democratic one. 

So, to my mind, I wish Grisanti well. I want legislators like him in Albany and Washington – legislators who do what they think is right, even when it’s unpopular. I want legislators who take a controversial stand and then take the time and intellectual effort to back it up. We can do a lot worse than Mark Grisanti in Albany

Tea NY: Tantrum Advocacy

Some people have facts and rational factual, legal arguments on their side, while others have volume and little else. 

On Friday afternoon, a western New York tea party group nominally led by Paladino chauffeur Rus Thompson, brought a contingent of about a dozen people to hold a protest outside the local office of State Senator Mark Grisanti. 

Grisanti is already on the tea party enemies list thanks to his vote in favor of marriage equality a few years ago. Now, the target on his back is bigger still thanks to his vote in favor of the NY SAFE act – the recent gun control legislation that has sent a lot of gun enthusiasts and right wingers into a fury. 

Before NY SAFE, New York already had among the most restrictive set of gun laws in the country. For instance, you’re not allowed to own a handgun unless you apply for – and receive – a permit to do so. New York followed the prior federal assault weapons ban, and NY SAFE strengthened it further.  Rifle magazines are never allowed to contain in excess of 7 rounds of ammunition. Semi-automatic rifles or shotguns with certain features (e.g., pistol grip, flash suppressor, bayonet lug, etc.) are banned, but if you owned one prior to the law’s passage, you  get to keep yours. A person’s weapons may be seized if there is probable cause to believe that the person is about to commit a crime or is mentally unstable. In New York State, the government has discretion in issuing pistol permits or conceal carry permits. In New York City, the rules are more restrictive than that. 

What part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand? 

Well, the right of the people to bear arms is restricted, not infringed. It is up to the courts to determine whether a restriction is a 2nd Amendment infringement. Furthermore, each state’s laws differ on gun ownership and possession. Usually, conservatives cheer that sort of 10th Amendment state’s rights sort of thing, but perhaps that cheering is absent when the states choose policies with which the right does not agree. 

When Rus Thompson and his band of a dozen SAFE Act opponents protested outside Senator Grisanti’s Buffalo office on Friday, the Senator did something that doesn’t happen that often – he went outside to speak with them. It is amazing to see what happens next. As Senator Grisanti begins discussing whether the SAFE Act will be repealed (it won’t), Mr. Thompson begins screaming at him, quite palpably for the benefit of the cameras. One supposes that Mr. Thompson thought he was scoring points here – that the general population would see this a brave exercise of 1st Amendment rights – getting right in the face of an elected official. 

Unfortunately for Mr. Thompson, that’s not at all how it came across. The Senator calmly hands out a statement and engages, occasionally, in debate with Mr. Thompson.  By contrast, Mr. Thompson is having what can best be described as a temper tantrum. He is screaming wildly at the Senator who reacts calmly but, at times, firmly. It is all a show that Mr. Thompson stage-managed for himself to make the news. Here it is, and the video speaks for itself. 

The animus that the tea party has for Grisanti is longstanding and pointless. Grisanti’s district is made up mostly of Democrats, and Grisanti is a moderate Republican. The likelihood of an ultra right-wing candidate winning that district is remote. In the video, Grisanti says he came outside specifically to confront Thompson on something he wrote online about Grisanti getting in another Senator’s “face” over gun control.

 So, Grisanti supposedly “yelled” at Senator Marchione to “back off”. Here’s what she has to say about it, 

So, that’s a lie.  

There’s a poignant irony at the end of the tape, when the assembled sweatshirt wearers are left taunting Grisanti – a two-time winner of a contentious state Senate election – with “loser”. Yet Grisanti is the only one seen in the video who seems dressed for work, and has someplace to go. Check out how a few other people (casino fight guy excluded) seemed interested in genuinely speaking with the Senator about the issue, but Mr. Thompson drowned out their conversation with screamed non-sequiturs. One man, Rick Donovan, claimed to be an Independence Party representative and yelled at Grisanti about petitions and betrayal. Donovan manages a Facebook Page for the “Independence Party of America” that has a whopping 17 likes. He ran last year – unsuccessfully – as Republican and IP candidate for Assembly 141 (Crystal Peoples-Stokes). On his Facebook page, he deftly identifies the largest issue facing the 141st Assembly district – the wholly and exclusively federal matter of immigration. 

Enlightening stuff. 

So, what is going on here? Looks like there’s a political club operating in New York State that is soliciting donations. In a reflection of their utter failure and decline, of the four political committees registered with the state Board of Elections containing the word “tea” in their name, only one is still active – Mr. Thompson’s “TEA NY PAC“. The other three, Elma’s “Tea Party Coalition PAC“, the redundant “Tea Party Conservative PAC“, and the “Tea Party Taxpayers for Liberty” – all formed in reaction to President Obama’s election – have been defunct for at least two years. 

The address for the “Taxed Enough Already NY PAC” is on Grand Island, where Mr. Thompson lives. Perhaps a reflection of what a political powerhouse and game-changer it is, it has $548 on hand, according to its January campaign disclosure report. In 2010, a Steve Garvin from Derby contributed $15,000 to Thompson’s group. $14,980 of that went to pay for radio spots during the 2010 general election.

Garvin gave to Lenny Roberto in his 2010 run against Brian Higgins. His only other contribution on record is $100 to a town-level candidate

In 2011, Thompson’s wife contributed $100 to offset bank fees from Citizen’s Bank and to pay a late filing fee fine to the Board of Elections. There were no other contributions in 2011. $100 was again deposited in 2012 to avoid bank fees. 

In the July 2012 periodical report, almost $1,370 in unitemized contribution were reported, as were $700 in expenses. Since then, Tea NY has been operating off the remaining $800 or so. It spent absolutely zero money on anyone or anything during the 2012 primary and general election campaigns. It spent $166 in late 2012 for an event.

Hardly the way to influence elections or policy. 

So, when Thompson emails his list claiming poverty and that it’s “impossible” to “wage a proper offense without the proper resources,” why didn’t he raise money – or spend any – to “wage an offense” (or defense, for that matter), in the 2012 election? 

Maybe Mr. Thompson can wage his offense simply by screaming intemperately at calm and knowledgeable elected officials. That’s free. 

 

Grisanti to Receive Endorsement of Other Horrible Transactional Fusion Party

At 1:30 pm today, a press conference will be held in Buffalo to announce that the Independence Party, which is neither independent nor really any sort of political party with any firm ideology or platform aside from the personal ambitions of its leadership, will endorse Mark Grisanti for re-election. 

This comes quickly on the heels of the recent announcement that the Conservative Party, which is hardly conservative nor really any sort of political party with a firm and consistent set of policy positions except for a generalized abhorrence of gays, modern society, and taxes, will attempt to throw WNY under a massive bendy bus by endorsing reprehensible homophobic retread Chuck Swanick – star of the mid-last-decade county financial meltdown – in a deal cut with former Pedro Espada patronage hire Steve Pigeon.  With Espada’s indictment, Pigeon finds himself needing something more to do than just ally himself with Albany-based cults.  

Also, Swanick received the endorsement of the reactionary homophobic bigots at the improperly named “National Organization for Marriage“. 

If you want to stop how pitifully transactional our local politics have become, and begin cleaning things up; if you want to promote good policy and less patronage-laden dealmaking, abolish electoral fusion in New York State. 

Screamy Grisanti Casino Fight: NOW A TALKIE

Courtesy of WNYMedia.net, here is the video – with audio – of the aftermath of the Grisanti fight at the Seneca Niagara Casino last weekend. 

 

Seneca Anti-Grisanti PR Gone Bad (UPDATED x2)

I realize that the facts are still fluid with respect to the night that State Senator Mark Grisanti and his wife had at the Seneca Niagara Casino this past weekend. I don’t know how intoxicated anyone was, but whoever was the physical aggressor(s) here is in the wrong. 

The Grisantis got out front of the story right away over the weekend, and Seneca loyalists pushed back hard on Monday, accusing Grisanti of “sticking his nose in” where it didn’t belong, and of being intoxicated; neither of which justify being physically pummeled, incidentally. 

I think the incident highlights the primary reason why the Pataki deal to allow the Senecas to annex sovereign exclaves in downtown Buffalo and Niagara Falls was so fundamentally wrongheaded. If we’re to have class III casino gaming in these cities, then it should be legal, tightly regulated, and well taxed. Instead, we’ve permitted a situation where a foreign nation is able to carve out a swath of downtown with dubious police and court jurisdiction when we have alleged crimes and altercations such as this. 

Yesterday, a young Buffalonian named Matt Ricchiazzi inserted himself into the Grisanti matter. Ricchiazzi is a relatively recent Cornell graduate, and has somewhat famously failed to make the ballot in just about every political race he’s run.  He’s had some good ideas for Buffalo under the auspices of his changebuffalo.org, but the perception in the political community is that he wants a fast track to political power without doing much grassroots-type legwork, like becoming a committeeman, for instance. He was, at last check, a supporter of Senator Grisanti, even after the passage of same-sex marriage legislation last year. 

However, Ricchiazzi’s most recent known employment was with Seneca Holdings, LLP, the Seneca Nation’s investment entity. I don’t know whether he is a registered Seneca, but his “religious views” are listed at Facebook as “Haudenosaunne/Ongweo:weh”. 

In the wake of the Grisantis-go-to-the-Casino story, Ricchiazzi took to a Twitter account he seldom (if ever) previously used, and has just as quickly deleted. Because his Twitter account has been deleted, I had to scan through a cached version of the Twitter apps on my phone: 

Ricchiazzi was incensed that the media were reporting that “Seneca businessmen” at the bar had beaten the Grisantis without provokation. He was pushing a story that Grisanti was extremely intoxicated and belligerent, and took to Twitter to argue with Grisanti supporter and Republican political strategist Michael Caputo. 

 

Later in the day, I received an email from Ricchiazzi, as did just about every other current and former journalist and commentator working in Buffalo. Including a few weatherpeople.

 

I emailed him back,

 

WGRZ’s Michael Wooten echoed my request, to which Ricchiazzi responded, 

When I asked him if he was speaking on behalf of the Seneca Nation, he replied that he was not; that he was speaking only as an individual. 

So, why did Ricchiazzi suddenly quiet down and delete his Twitter account? Sources close to the Grisanti camp say that Ricchiazzi has been contacted by the authorities. Over the weekend, Ricchiazzi sent text messages to Senator Grisanti and his chief of staff, Doug Curella. In those text messages, which have been turned over to the police, Ricchiazzi claims that he saw the surveillance and knows that Grisanti and his wife were drunk instigators, that the Senator used a racial slur, and that Ricchiazzi would run a Republican to primary Grisanti on that line, in conjunction with a relentless smear campaign. This would likely set up a 3-way race, as Carl Paladino (a genuine, if flawed, player in Republican politics) has already pledged to support a right-wing primary against Grisanti. 

But Ricchiazzi apparently went one step too far – in one text, he allegedly demanded a $20,000/month job from Grisanti in exchange for his silence and to prevent him from smearing and running a candidate against the Senator. Obviously, Grisanti’s team was tickled by the idea of a kid who couldn’t get on the ballot for the the Buffalo school board throwing fictitious political weight around, but the demand for money was more insidious and likely illegal extortion or blackmail. The Grisanti aide who received the text replied that this demand was completely inappropriate, and Ricchiazzi “withdrew” his “offer”. 

Yet sources close to the Senator also say that Ricchiazzi sent a text message to Grisanti himself on Saturday, expressing shock and dismay at what had happened to him and his wife at the casino. In it, Ricchiazzi told the Senator to sue the casino and the Senecas for the assault, and that Ricchiazzi could act as an advisor against the Senecas on the Senator’s behalf. 

Larceny by extortion is defined in New York’s Penal Law 155.05(2)(e) when a person, “compels or induces another person to deliver … property to himself or to a third person by means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another will: … Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him; or (v) Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule; …or (ix) Perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.”

It would appear that Ricchiazzi’s texts threatened to accuse Grisanti of criminal or socially unacceptable behavior if Grisanti didn’t pay Ricchiazzi $20,000/mo. Police are investigating the matter.  The Buffalo News obtained vertical iPhone video of the fight’s aftermath, and it is silent due to profanity, and the News says no one uses a racial epithet. It’s not really conclusive of much.  The Niagara Falls Police are not bringing any criminal charges. But whatever PR headway the Senecas may be making with respect to this incident, Ricchiazzi’s self-insertion in the controversy hasn’t furthered that effort. 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

At 8pm Monday night, I emailed Ricchiazzi for a comment, informing him that I was running with this story regarding his text messages to the Senator and his aide, and noting the deletion of his Twitter account. I told him I would be completing my story at 6:30am on Tuesday. Apart from a “Thanks!”, I have not received anything more substantive from Mr. Ricchiazzi.  

UPDATE:  I called Phil Pantano, the spokesperson for Seneca Gaming, who informs me that he’s never heard of Mr. Ricchiazzi, that he’s had no contact with Mr. Ricchiazzi, and that whatever Mr. Ricchiazzi was trying to do was not in any way solicited or sanctioned by the Seneca Gaming Corporation. Mr. Ricchiazzi emailed me after this post went up to say, 

I’d be happy to tell you the story — and a lot of other stories on Grisanti’s office that pale in comparison to this recent incident.  We should meet for coffee sometime and discuss. Let me know when you’re free.
 
Looking forward to speaking with you,

 

UPDATE x2: Mr. Ricchiazzi emails as follows: 

My text message to Mark on Saturday morning was in the context of just having read initial media reports, which suggested that Maria was horrifically beaten. I spent 5 months of my life helping Grisanti get elected, and Maria has treated me so kindly. She is such a nice, gracious, beautiful person. I wanted to make sure Maria was alright, and at that time I encouraged Mark to file a lawsuit.

After I realized that Mark was using the racist stereotype of “drunk Indians” as an escape goat for his own drunken intoxication, I was upset that Doug would recommend such an inappropriate and racist media strategy. As a friend, I told Doug that the video and audio footage that exists is damning and is a political liability.

Via text message to Doug, I offered to help them walk back their racism as a media consultant, and told them my monthly rate, which is not unreasonable for the industry. Doug misinterpreted me trying to be helpful as a threat, and responded offensively, as if I was trying to demand something from them.

I was offended by his reaction to my offer of help, and even more deeply offended by their use of racism and unfair stereotypes against Native Americans — and I will be saying so publicly to combat this type of bias. Political speech is the most legally protected of all speech.

I did not commit, consider, or attempt to do anything illegal.

I’m puzzled by your characterization of this situation, which I frankly don’t understand. I don’t see how I’m the story, or how I’m central to this situation. I took extensive coursework in indigenous political theory as an undergraduate, and I’m an activist on Native issues. That’s all.

He also adds: 

I’m not affiliated with the Seneca Nation of Indians. I’m Cayuga, bear clan. My usage of the word “us” that you cite, I admit, was too loose.

 

Fact-Checking McCarthy’s Story About Grisanti’s Money

Courtesy Tom Dolina at Tommunisms.com

Bob McCarthy reports in Thursday’s Buffalo News that State Senator Mark Grisanti (SD-60) reported receiving “nearly $247,000” and that, of the 85 reported donors, only one was from western New York.

The insinuation here is that Grisanti’s local support is slipping, and that he’s dependent on money from outside the region to mount next year’s re-election bid.  It’s an insinuation that is false, and McCarthy is deliberately ignoring or confused by the fact that Grisanti has chosen voluntarily to follow an unnecessarily stringent financial disclosure pattern for a State Senator in a non-election year.

1. All of the checks from outside the area arose from a fundraiser that New York Mayor Bloomberg held in October for Republican Senators who voted in favor of the same sex marriage bill last summer. At that fundraiser, most donors pledged money, and the pledges were fulfilled in early December, and reported in January.

2. When Grisanti files, he itemizes every single donation – even if it’s under the $100 threshold – in order to maximize transparency.  He files to make sure everything is out there, because he has nothing to hide.

3. Grisanti held several local fundraisers during previous reporting periods, but none during the time covered by the January periodic, which would have started in mid-December.

4. If you look at Grisanti’s disclosure (and compare it to that of Maziarz, Kennedy, and Ranzenhofer), he filed pursuant to the tighter election year schedule despite the fact that 2011 was not an election year for him.  In his unnecessary 32 day pre-primary filing, most of his individual donations came from within WNY.  All of the individual donations in the 11 day pre-primary disclosure were from WNY.  In the 32 day pre-general filing, only one individual donation came from outside WNY.

5. Had Grisanti, like his colleagues, opted not to follow that tighter election-year cycle during the last half of 2011, all of those pre-primary and pre- and post-general election disclosures would have been contained in the January filing that McCarthy wrote about.

6. The shorter version is, Grisanti’s January disclosure only covers December 2011. The other Senators’ disclosures covers July – December 2011.

So, McCarthy’s insinuation about Grisanti’s support coming almost exclusively from outside the area, and that this is somehow out of the ordinary for a State Senator, is not a fair representation of the facts in this particular instance.

 

Fact-Checking McCarthy's Story About Grisanti's Money

Courtesy Tom Dolina at Tommunisms.com

Bob McCarthy reports in Thursday’s Buffalo News that State Senator Mark Grisanti (SD-60) reported receiving “nearly $247,000” and that, of the 85 reported donors, only one was from western New York.

The insinuation here is that Grisanti’s local support is slipping, and that he’s dependent on money from outside the region to mount next year’s re-election bid.  It’s an insinuation that is false, and McCarthy is deliberately ignoring or confused by the fact that Grisanti has chosen voluntarily to follow an unnecessarily stringent financial disclosure pattern for a State Senator in a non-election year.

1. All of the checks from outside the area arose from a fundraiser that New York Mayor Bloomberg held in October for Republican Senators who voted in favor of the same sex marriage bill last summer. At that fundraiser, most donors pledged money, and the pledges were fulfilled in early December, and reported in January.

2. When Grisanti files, he itemizes every single donation – even if it’s under the $100 threshold – in order to maximize transparency.  He files to make sure everything is out there, because he has nothing to hide.

3. Grisanti held several local fundraisers during previous reporting periods, but none during the time covered by the January periodic, which would have started in mid-December.

4. If you look at Grisanti’s disclosure (and compare it to that of Maziarz, Kennedy, and Ranzenhofer), he filed pursuant to the tighter election year schedule despite the fact that 2011 was not an election year for him.  In his unnecessary 32 day pre-primary filing, most of his individual donations came from within WNY.  All of the individual donations in the 11 day pre-primary disclosure were from WNY.  In the 32 day pre-general filing, only one individual donation came from outside WNY.

5. Had Grisanti, like his colleagues, opted not to follow that tighter election-year cycle during the last half of 2011, all of those pre-primary and pre- and post-general election disclosures would have been contained in the January filing that McCarthy wrote about.

6. The shorter version is, Grisanti’s January disclosure only covers December 2011. The other Senators’ disclosures covers July – December 2011.

So, McCarthy’s insinuation about Grisanti’s support coming almost exclusively from outside the area, and that this is somehow out of the ordinary for a State Senator, is not a fair representation of the facts in this particular instance.