By Robert J. McCarthy
State Sen. Jeff Klein and the Independent Democratic Caucus he heads in a power-sharing agreement with Senate Republicans have contributed $10,000 to the Erie County Democratic Committee, according to new campaign finance records filed with the state Board of Elections.
The transaction follows the recent donation of $85,000 by State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy of Buffalo, who organizes with regular Democrats, to a political committee associated with former Erie County Democratic Chairman G. Steven Pigeon that spent $267,000 during the September Democratic primary working against candidates backed by the local party.
That committee -– the WNY Progressive Caucus -– is now under investigation by the Erie County Board of Elections for its activities in the primary.
Zellner said he has developed a close relationship with Klein and appreciates his financial assistance, but said nothing further should be read into it. However, one local Democratic source, who asked not to be identified but has knowledge of the situation, expressed dissatisfaction with Zellner's even accepting a donation from a group of breakaway Democrats who have shut out regular Democrats from power in the Senate and who now share leadership with the GOP.
Klein recently visited Buffalo for several political events, and according to a source close to him who wished not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly, met with candidates wishing to run for the Senate next year in association with the IDC.