From everything I can gather, there’s never been a time in recorded history when Erie County Democrats were united and working together as a matter of routine. It happens from time to time when convenient (i.e., when there’s something (or nothing) in it for everyone), but every election cycle or two there’s a party establishment that is battling on two fronts; Republicans on one side, and the sabotage wing of the nominal Democratic party on the other.
You know the drill – “Concerned Parents” bludgeoning Sam Hoyt within an inch of his political life with the double-edged sword of infidelity and interns, engineering a coup in the state Senate to depose Democratic leadership there with a small collection of criminals, and a copycat coup in the Erie County Legislature to prop up the person who has quickly emerged as the most transactional, least interesting local politician – Tim Kennedy.
Kennedy and Betty Jean Grant never really got along well, but the whole thing fell apart when Kennedy and Barbara Miller-Williams sold the Democratic legislature majority out to then-County Executive Chris Collins in a Pigeon-engineered coup in 2010. That positioned Kennedy to challenge incumbent Bill Stachowski and hop over to the appropriately useless State Senate. Grant mounted a grassroots, barebones challenge against Kennedy as payback two years later, and lost by only 139 votes.
This year sets up a rematch of the Kennedy-Grant battle. During the last political cycle, the political action committee that Pedro Espada’s patronage hire, Steve Pigeon, set up last year with toxic personality Kristy Mazurek, found itself the subject of a bipartisan Erie County Board of Elections campaign finance violation probe. Subpoenas revealed undeclared expenses and sloppy accounting. It was called “Progressive Caucus of WNY” and its sole purpose was to sabotage the Erie County Democratic Committee and its candidates during the last cycle. I called it “AwfulPAC“. At one point in late October, it was late on its filings and $19,000 in the red. (It’s since updated its filings, which the Board of Elections has basically said are a masterpiece of fiction.) But losing most of its primaries wasn’t enough, AwfulPAC’s Republicans-in-Democratic-clothes went so far as to defame the Democratic candidate on the eve of the election.
Pigeon supposedly funded AwfulPAC to the tune of $120,000 of money that came from God knows where. Senator Tim Kennedy gave an additional $80,000 – and he got revenge on Betty Jean Grant when AwfulPAC candidate Barbara Miller-Williams unseated Tim Hogues in the September primary.
In the end, it cost about $267,000 (that are accounted-for) for Steve Pigeon and his known associates to kneecap the county Democratic committee and destroy Tim Hogues and Betty Jean Grant. This is all they can do, since they have failed and refused to successfully challenge the committee chairmanship repeatedly over the last decade. They’re now gearing up not only to do battle against Grant, who is well-liked and not even close to lying down for these punks, but also to back a likely Mazurek effort to take the Assembly seat most recently kept warm by creepy toilet video director Dennis Gabryszak. AwfulPAC failed to account for $35,000 in TV spending, and spent another $112k directly on behalf of failed Sheriff candidate Dick Dobson, despite not properly being set up as an independent Dobson committee.
Meanwhile, Kennedy flips and flops on abortion – he was pro-life when convenient, and is now pro-choice because that has suddenly become convenient –
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo’s joke of an election law review – the Moreland Commission – has done absolutely nothing about any of this. It hasn’t addressed election law shenanigans or improper reporting, raising, and spending of money, and has completely avoided the issue of toxic and corrupt minor “parties” and their use of electoral fusion to obtain unearned political clout and patronage.
As Kennedy and Mazurek run, watch how the money flows in and out of their campaigns, (to the extent the disclosures resemble reality), and that’s how you’ll know what this is all really about. Hint: good government and constituent service aren’t on the list.