Penalty Flag on Brown’s Donations to Golombek
by Geoff Kelly - posted 3:37 pm, September 8, 2010
On September 7, Joe Golombek’s campaign filed notice that it had received a $3,050 contribution from Brown for Buffalo, the committee for Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Golombek is challenging incumbent Assemblyman Sam Hoyt in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Taken with a $500 contribution in January and a $250 contribution in June, that brings Brown for Buffalo right up to the $3,800 contribution limit for state assembly races.
But hold on a moment: Brown for Buffalo also gave $5,000 to Committee for Change, whose treasurer is Brown’s adviser, Peter Savage III. Committee for Change recently spent at least $2,690 on Golombek’s campaign. Committee for Change paid for several canvassers; Golombek declared the cost as an in-kind donation.
The problem for the mayor is that, under state election law, a portion of Committee for Change’s expenditures on behalf of each candidate it supports are charged against the contribution limits of each donor to Committee for Change:
…a portion of every contribution to a party committee, expended as other than non-candidate expenditures, and a portion of every contribution to a political committee authorized to support more than one candidate, shall be deemed contributed to every candidate supported by such committee.
So far, Golombek is the only candidate on whom Committee for Change has spent money. The committee decides the formula by which it attributes a portion of each contributor’s to the candidates it supports. But every contributor’s money supports every candidate backed by the committee. And whatever portion of that $2,690 charged to Brown, even one lousy buck, puts him over the $3,800 contribution limit to Golombek.
A quibble? Yes. A misdemeanor under state election law? Yes again, if done “knowingly and willfully.” But good luck finding a prosecutor.