On March 12, 2011, the Buffalo News reported on two seemingly unrelated matters:
1. Investigative reporter Jim Heaney wrote that former campaign workers and contractors retained by the Paladino for the People gubernatorial campaign were accusing Mr. Paladino for non-payment; and
2. T.J. Pignataro and Bob McCarthy wrote that former Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo and his father had been arrested and charged by Orchard Park police on March 1st with various and sundry disorderly conduct-type offenses.
I’m not one for grand conspiracies, but could the two be related?
Heaney claimed in this online chat that he first learned of the non-payment issue via online chat that took place on March 6th. But the bad blood between Caputo and Paladino can be traced back at least to February 2011, when Caputo publicly endorsed Governor Cuomo’s budget plan, calling it, “conservative, responsible and absolutely necessary“, and asked tea party members throughout the state to join him.
In response to that, the New York State tea party movement was thrust into more turmoil than usual, with accusations and counter-accusations over whether they should back Cuomo or not. The kicker, however, was this email that Carl Paladino sent out to some of his trusted associates on February 6, 2011. I’ve cut out the irrelevant portions, but check out the highlighted bit:
From: “Carl Paladino”
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2011 20:53:54
Subject: Re: Caputo’s reach and breach
Well this is a second attempt to write you. I’m terrible on the computer and accidentally erased the first 3 hour version of this? Everyone please be assured that Caputo does not work or speak for me. He is in the wind and probably on Cuomo’s payroll. The last conversation I had with him the week before Oneonta I told him that Cuomo’s budget was unacceptable and at best a very small step in the right direction. He went on to interpret that as an ok to tell the group that I supported Cuomo and to issue a letter and oped which are totally unacceptable to me.
The result was a week of rhetoric wHich I believe was healthy for all. It coalesced the group and pointed out the need for a strong organizer/coordinator who commands the respect of all, is resourceful, determined, loyal and smart which defines all of you but I also think when you think about it the one name that sticks for the great majority is Sheryl, and don’t you dare spell her name wrong. Remember that in every group there are extremes and that is good as long as the center is strong and well planted. Some will push the envelope. Others want to be hanging off the end of the merry-go-round where everything is a blur and the wind blows in your face. Still others are content in the middle where they can see everything clearly. It takes a little of each to have a winning team.
Forget about Caputo. He can’t hurt anyone. He’s off on a trip to his home planet thinking that he can revise history. At the NYC press debriefing event he was the only person to dump on me. Not even the Cuomo people said anything. He said I liked the sound of a turd in the punchbowl never acknowledging that he was solely responsible for the Hassidic/homosexual tragedy in NYC. He’s a political junkie/whore with no values, for sale to anyone. The authorities are aware of his misuse of the lists assembled on my nickel and what goes around will come around.
Seems like “what goes around” came around on March 1st, just three weeks later.
It’s also worth noting that Paladino has interests in Orchard Park, namely Skibbereen Farms, the website for which indicates that it’s owned by “The 1147 Group, Inc., owned by Chrissie Hannon, Paladino’s niece. His wife and daughter are the property managers there. It’s the largest horse farm of its kind in Orchard Park, with about 50 horses. It’s not like he has no pull in that particular one of the Southtowns, where Caputo lives.
It certainly seems like a retaliatory set-up, but no one’s talking. For his part, when asked whether he thinks Paladino might be behind this, the usually loquacious Caputo gave me a very uncharacteristic, “no comment”. Yet one thing’s for sure – Caputo was tailed for some time before being pulled over, and he and his father were arrested on charges dubious enough that an Aurora town justice dismissed each one.
The question now becomes – why did Orchard Park bring out the big guns over what should have been a routine traffic stop?