Gov't unions step up cash gifts to local politicos

Races for Niagara County Legislature this year already seem to have the usual sleepy contests where little if any money will be spent. Then there’s the 3rd District, which features three candidates, one of which has raised over $10,000 this year. The position itself pays $15,075. “I’m actually very happy I was able to raise that amount of money,” said Jason Cafarella, a Democrat who is not his party’s chosen candidate. “I think it’s important to be able to run the campaign I want to run, but by and large this race is more about meeting the voter and going door to door.”

The district is located in the center of Niagara Falls. Cafarella is a lawyer and a city firefighter. Of the $10,984 he raised — far more than any other Legislature candidate who filed financial disclosure reports so far — he received $3,400 from four firefighter organizations, $5,934 from individuals and $1,000 from Laborer’s Local 91. He also received $125 from Mayor Vince Anello’s campaign fund. He has $4,356 on hand.

Meanwhile, the endorsed Democrat, Mario Tonellato, raised just $983 and spent more than $2,000, leaving him with a deficit of $1,087.

Tonellato said he isn’t discouraged.

“We’re competitive with our message and we’re competitive with what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re campaigning very hard.”

Republican Randal Ubriaco, who is running in the Third District, has not filed disclosure forms with the board.

In another race that’s expected to be competitive, in the 15th District, Independence Party member Tony Nemi raised just over $6,000 and has $1,325 on hand, while incumbent Democrat Harry Apolito has just over $1,000 on hand.

Financial disclosure reports from active candidates and political committees across the state were to be filed or postmarked by Monday, according to the state calendar.

If candidates didn’t file financial statements it could be because they haven’t spent or raised enough money, according to elections officials.

In the war between the county’s two major political parties, Democrats have double what the Republicans have in the bank but raised far less overall.

Niagara County Republicans have been busy fundraising, bringing in $163,616 over the last six months, while Democrats brought in just $25,228.

Republicans spent a lot of money on donating to various candidates, holding fundraisers and paying consultants, and have $24,340 heading into the fall campaign season.

Democrats have over $49,000 on hand.

Among donations to Republicans from politicians and the many lawyers who benefit from county employment was a few others, including $29,000 from Smokin’ Joe’s and $15,000 from Laborers Local 91.

Other donations were from Auctions International, a Cheektowaga company that donated $5,000 and conducted the county auction of surplus equipment for the past two years and $5,000 from Damon and Morey, a law firm that handles Mount View matters for the county.

Flexcare donated $5,000, as did Anthony McKenna of Wendel Duchscherer.

Democrats received $5,000 from former Congressional candidate Jack Davis, $1,500 from SEIU, a union representing health care workers and $2,000 from the United Auto Workers.

In the Legislature’s First District, incumbent Jason Murgia has $4,138 on hand. He was helped by a $200 donation from county Republicans, who have endorsed Murgia, a Democrat, over Republican Richard Marasco.

Murgia also received a $100 donation from former State Sen. Marc Coppola, a Buffalo Democrat.

Murgia’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Jerry Genova, has $1,330 on hand.

Genova raised $2,095 so far, in part because of contributions from City Councilman Lewis “Babe” Rotella and Council candidate Nicholas Ligammari.

Marasco has not filed papers with the board.

In the Second District, challenger Candace Corsaro, a Democrat, raised $1,300 so far but has just $114.51 on hand.

Incumbent Renae Kimble hasn’t raised any money and has $81.25 on hand.

In the Sixth District, located in the town of Niagara, challenger Robert LaBarbera and incumbent Danny Sklarski didn’t raise any money, or spend any money.

LaBarbera has $24.77 on hand and Sklarski has $979.72 on hand, but has $2,763 in outstanding loans.

In the Seventh District, incumbent Republican Gerald Farnham has not filed any report, and challenger Roger Chenez has received $1,100 from county Democrats and loaned his committee $1,500. Chenez has raised $4,833 and has $2,747 on hand.

In the Eighth District, incumbent William Ross filed a notice that he hasn’t raised or spent $1,000.

In the Ninth District, located in North Tonawanda, Andrea McNulty, a Democrat who was appointed to the seat by Republicans, raised $2,287 total, including $300 from outgoing Legislator Rebecca Cuddahee and $150 from Sen. George Maziarz. McNulty has not spent any money.

In Lewiston, Democrat Jerry Mosey, who is running for Legislature in the 12th District against Republican John Ceretto, raised $3,160 and has $2,177 on hand.

Matthew Murphy loaned his campaign $6,300 and so far has spent the money on supporting other candidates and other campaign expenses. Murphy is seeking a county judgeship and is running on all lines.


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