I'm not going to accuse the state Board of Elections of being aggressive when it comes to the shenanigans of Tom Golisano and Steve Pigeon, but they're starting to make some noise, even if right now it's just a squeak.
A $560 fine against their anti-Sam Hoyt front group, Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers, for failing to file one of four delinquent campaign disclosure reports is a start. A board spokesman said they'll try again to serve papers on the organization in an effort to force compliance or obtain more judgments.
"It looks like they're 0 for 4," said spokesman John Conklin.
A $500 fine is chump change to the billionaire from Rochester -- news flash, he's moving the Florida to avoid taxes here -- and he's probably insulated himself from being responsible for paying the fine. That's what front groups are for.
But there is certainly an embarrassment factor.
Moreover, there are signs that the Board of Elections is taking a serious look at allegations filed by, among others, the Erie County Board of Elections, that Responsible New York committed felony violations of state election law by pouring oodles of cash into the campaigns of several candidates for the state Legislature.
As an independent committee, Responsible New York could do that, provided it maintained an arms-length relationship with the campaigns it contributed to. But the allegation is that there was a lot of coordination going on. Felony kind of stuff.
And from the folks I'm talking to, those allegations may be gaining traction.
Conklin, of the Board of Elections, would not comment on the status of two complaints filed last fall against Responsible New York by Jeremy Toth, a political associate of Hoyt, and Erie County Board of Elections Commissioners Dennis Ward and Ralph Mohr.
As an independent political committee, Responsible New York does not have to comply with contribution limits to candidates provided they do not coordinate activities with their campaigns. Toth and the local Board of Elections have charged Responsible New York coordinated activities with several candidates last year and thus violated the spending caps.
Ward said state Board of Election investigators have contacted him and Mohr "several times. It appears from what they've said that they're conducting at least an informal investigation."
So maybe Conklin, the board spokesman, wasn't being altogether flip the other day when he explained that one reason why the board wasn't pressing Brian Davis was because they have "bigger fish to fry."
Meanwhile, the Erie County Board of Elections is continuing its own investigation, which predates the allegations lodged against Responsible New York, into the financial activities of several campaign committees operated by Pigeon.