A Confluence of Horrible Politics
by Alan Bedenko (@BuffaloPundit) - posted 7:30 am, September 24, 2013
When it comes down to less than 100 votes between the two candidates, you don’t get to be a sore winner and gloat over an exceedingly narrow victory. When the victory came about as a result of a relentless, libelous campaign whereby a young and promising legislator is defamed as a “Republican” sellout, it’s nothing to boast about. When the beneficiary of that campaign is one of the most toxic and corruptible figures ever to skulk through government, it’s shameful. Barbara Miller-Williams didn’t win for herself, had Steve Pigeon not formed a PAC and funded it with almost $300,000 within the course of a week, there’d have been no blitz of “Tim Hogues is a Republican” mailers that went to every home in the district every day.
Betty Jean Grant – she was a victor, completely obliterating the opponent who stood to benefit from the same mailing blitz. Nice try, Tim Kennedy, but you didn’t get your revenge directly against your nemesis this time.
Zydel and Moore – the Pigeon/Mazurek top of the marquee – both lost big to HQ-backed candidates Dearmyer (who, in turn, lost to Pat Burke), and Wynnie Fisher, respectively. Not a day for a Pigeon victory lap at all.
Bert Dunn, on the other hand, lost dramatically to Dick Dobson. Dunn ran his own campaign with his own people and his own money, eschewing help from the party apparatus. Zellner stayed out of that race, for the most part, and Dunn lost big. Too big – it was embarrassing, but all he seemed to do was put signs up at Bert’s Bikes locations and let Pigeon’s committee beat him up on TV.
Now, Dunn is pledging to continue his run on the “Law and Order” party line he created for himself. This is a foolish endeavor that will not work and is a stupid thing to do at a time when Democrats should be rallying around Dobson. Dunn failed and should step aside and perhaps try again another time.
By the same token, Democrats should all be supporting Fisher and Burke in their general election battles. It’s one thing to run a primary campaign, it’s another to actively support the Republican to get one over on the party apparatchiks you don’t like.
Finally, as the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy reported, complaints have been made to the Moreland Commission on public corruption. Let’s examine.
– Senator Tim Kennedy gave $85,000 to the Pigeon/Mazurek PAC, half of which came from a defunct, closed campaign account in apparent violation of election law. Kennedy tells McCarthy that his donations followed the “letter and spirit” of the law. The facts and disclosures show the exact opposite, yet this is omitted from the article.
– Pigeon told McCarthy:
Pigeon labeled the Grant-Hogues letter a “frivolous action” and questioned whether Cuomo’s Moreland Commission is even charged with probing political campaigns.
“The charge is to investigate corruption of public officers,” Pigeon said, “not to be a campaign watchdog. That power still lies with the Board of Elections.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formation of the “Commission to Investigate Public Corruption” under the Moreland Act and Executive Law Section 63(8) to probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State…
…”I am formally empanelling a Commission to Investigate Public Corruption pursuant to the Moreland Act and Section 63(8) of the Executive Law that will convene the best minds in law enforcement and public policy from across New York to address weaknesses in the State’s public corruption, election and campaign finance laws, generate transparency and accountability, and restore the public trust.”
- [The commission will investigate] Campaign financing including but not limited to contribution limits and other restrictions; disclosure of third-party contributions and expenditures; and the effectiveness of existing campaign finance laws.
So, the facts directly contradict Pigeon’s assertion about the commission’s mission, yet this key fact is shunted down to the bottom of the article, completely outside the context of Pigeon’s assertion.
The way in which New York conducts is elections is horrible, rife with opportunities for bad people to do questionable and corrupt things. PACs can spend unlimited money and its campaign advertising doesn’t need to disclose the source. Electoral fusion allows our system to be more about dealmaking with otherwise irrelevant minor “parties” and does nothing to enhance electoral democracy. Ballot access is unreasonably complicated and rife with traps for the unwary, and should be simplified. Money flowing to and from PACs – which are not even formally recognized under state law – should be accounted-for, disclosed, and limited to prevent monied interests from stealing elections.
The problem now is whether money in politics will prevent the needed reforms from being openly discussed and implemented.