You Make the Call: Steve Pigeon and Co. — Shady or Slipshod?
by Geoff Kelly - posted 1:48 pm, January 21, 2010
Note to Steve Pigeon and his attorneys: When you bring a lawsuit alleging that the Erie County Board of Elections and its commissioners are pursuing “baseless” and politically motivated investigations into you campaign finance operations, you should make sure that all the supposedly aggrieved parties are legally constituted under New York State election law.
Because if they’re not, it sort of underlines the idea that your campaign finance operations are either shady or slipshod or both. It sort of makes the BOE’s investigations seem less than “baseless.”
In this week’s Artvoice, I made reference to a lawsuit filed last October by Tom Golisano, Steve Pigeon, Gary Parenti, Responsible New York, and two other campaign committees Pigeon controls:
The [January 2010 campaign finance disclosure] filing from Responsible New York, funded by Buffalo Sabres owner and Paychex founder Tom Golisano and operated by that strangest of all political agents, Steve Pigeon, revealed that the committee paid $15,000 to Niagara Falls attorney John Bartolomei in early December. Bartolomei, an associate of Pigeon, filed a lawsuit in October accusing the Erie County Board of Elections and its two commissioners, Democrat Dennis Ward and Republican Ralph Mohr, of conducting an “inappropriate, improper and illegal, fraudulent and baseless investigation” into the doings of Responsible New York and the two other Pigeon-controlled committees.
If you’re into this sort of thing, read the suit against Ward, Mohr, and Erie County BOE. It’s 12 poorly written pages submitted by Niagara Falls attorney Bartolomei and co-signed by Buffalo attorney Paul Cambria.
One of the parties to the suit is “People for Responsible Government,” an entity that is not registered in New York State. There’s “People for a Responsible New York” and “People for Accountable Government,” and Pigeon associate Gary Parenti serves as treasurer of both. It seems that the lawyers intended to list the latter as a petitioner: Friends of Joel Giambra lists a September 2007 donation of $2000 to “People for Responsible Government,” and People for Accountable Government lists receiving $2000 from Giambra.
Sloppy. For this you pay your lawyer $15,000?
The Responsible New York suit asks the court the BOE to cease its investigations into Pigeon’s operations and to return all subpoenaed documents related to those investigations—bank records, etc. The Erie County attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, and has asked “People for Responsible Government” and Citizens for Fiscal Integrity to answer to a number of charges: In the case of the former, that they are not a legal entity; in the case of the latter, that the committee failed over and over again to file timely and truthful accounts of its financial activities.In an affidavit, Ralph Mohr accuses Citizens for Fiscal Integrity of failing to report $25,250 in donations and $35,249.54 in expenditures, and 22 failures to comply with the state’s reporting requirements.
The parties were supposed to be in court today but Pigeon’s attorney asked for the hearing to be rescheduled to next month.