September 25, 2008 - 5:00 AM
When I pressed Steve Pigeon a few weeks ago about any possible link between Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers, the anonymous group that attacked Sam Hoyt during the recent primary, and Responsible New York, he assured me everything was being done above board.
"I think it will all come out in the reports," he said in a previous post regarding financial disclosure forms to be filed with the state Board of Elections.
Well, guess what? The deadline has come and gone and Mothers and Fathers hasn't filed a disclosure report.
One was due earlier this week for fund-raising and spending activity for the 11 days prior and 10 days after the Sept. 9 primary, assuming there was at least $1,000 in activity. We know from the barrage of TV ads and direct mail flyers there was a lot more than $1,000 going on.
All Mothers and Fathers has filed is a form registering as a political action committee established for the purpose of opposing Hoyt in the primary. It lists the same mailing address as the one used on the organization's attack flyers -- that of a direct mail business in Long Island City.
The treasurer is listed as Abigail Rivera of 15th Street in Buffalo. I reached Rivera by phone Wednesday afternoon. She confirmed that yes, she's the Rivera who lives on 15th Street. I told her I had a document that listed her as treasurer of Mothers and Fathers and asked her to confirm whether that was correct. She seemed taken aback.
"I don't remember. I'm not sure," she said before asking me to call her back in a few minutes.
I did, several times, and she did not pick up the phone.
I checked some records, made some calls, and found out she's a former county worker who was active in the Democratic Party when Pigeon was chairman.
So I called Pigeon. He offered the Sergeant Schultz defense -- he knows nothing.
Steve, what do you know about Abigail Rivera?
"I was not involved."
What can you tell me about the failure of Mothers and Fathers to file a disclosure report?
"I can't speak to it."
He concluded by once again assuring me that everything Responsible New York does is legal.
"We are complying with the election law."
Then, click, he hung up.
Nice talking to you, Steve.
Eventually I spoke to Henry Berger, the attorney for Responsible New York. Said he didn't know Rivera, didn't know much at all about Mothers and Fathers.
Then he volunteered this: "I know we made a contribution to them, did some things with them."
But Mr. Berger, Responsible New York's disclosure report doesn't list any contributions to Mothers and Fathers.
"My understanding is the way we handled it is they did the stuff and we paid for it."
Or, sticking with the German soldier theme, "Very Interesting."
A review of Responsible New York's disclosure reports shows that, sure enough, it appears to be following the law. (Then again, I'm not a DA).
Of course, if it were an "authorized" political committee, Responsible New York would not only have to disclose its spending, but detail how it was allocated on behalf each individual candidate. Responsible New York, however, is an "unauthorized" political committee, meaning it does not have to disclose spending by candidate.
Nice, huh? This from the organization that lists among its eight mission points "True Government Transparency." Not to mention "Election and Campaign Finance Reform."
While perusing a number of disclosure reports I found some interesting stuff.
Responsible New York has spent $1.3 million of the $5 million Tom Golisano has plowed into the organization. In the 11 days leading up to the primary and the 10 days following, it spent $734,3584. That included $430,450 in TV spots, $148,000 in radio and $121,000 in direct mail. Most of that money was presumably spent in support of Barbra Kavanaugh and Baby Joe Mesi. Not that the report tells us.
Thanks to Golisano's largess, Kavanaugh raised and spent relatively little on her campaign, $33,321 and $29,525, respectively.
Hoyt, meanwhile, has raised $352,709 since the first of the year and spent $374,911, including more than $225,000 in the 10 days leading up to the primary. If the strategy of Golisano-Pigeon-Brown-Casey was to bleed Hoyt financially, it certainly worked.
All this said, I'm tired of writing about the Hoyt-Kavanaugh race. It was ugly and costly -- and it's over.
The reason why I've delved into it one more time is to document the less-than-transparent manner in which Golisano has Pigeon spending his money.
Golisano has been preaching transparency in state government; applying that same principle to Responsible New York's activities would see it spell out precisely how much money it is spending on individual candidates.
I guess that kind of transparency is good for the goose, but not the Golisano.