Preetsmas: In Their Own Words

by / Jun. 14, 2015 5am EST

In their own words: 

Matt Spina, Discrepancies found in reports from PACs controlled by Pigeon - Buffalo News: June 28, 2009

Bank records subpoenaed by the Erie County Board of Elections revealed that two political committees controlled by G. Steven Pigeon failed to report several donations and expenses. Here are a few that the Erie County Board of Elections says it found during an investigation:

*Citizens for Fiscal Integrity, supporting Pigeon-friend Gary Parenti in his race for Assembly in 2006, received $5,000 on Aug. 31 of that year from then-County Executive Joel A. Giambra’s committee, the Friends of Joel Giambra; $1,500 from Pigeon’s personal checking account; and $2,500 indirectly from Watermark Financial, an investment company the Securities and Exchange Commission would later allege operated a Ponzi scheme.

The Watermark check was made out to Pigeon for “legal consulting — August.”

While a total of $9,000 was deposited, the transaction was initially recorded as only a $4,000 deposit from Pigeon, the commissioners said. Giambra’s $5,000 deposit was missed, although the Friends of Joel Giambra reported making the payment.

A week after the $9,000 was collected, the Citizens for Fiscal Integrity was able to cover a $9,000 invoice from a direct-mail company that Parenti had been using.

*In mid-July of 2008, Citizens for Fiscal Integrity filed a statement saying it had no activity to report for the first half of the year. But after the county Board of Elections issued its subpoena for bank records, the committee instead filed a report saying it had received $5,000 and spent $4,000 in the first six months.

It had directly spread $3,000 to the campaigns of State Senate candidate Joe Mesi, a Democrat; Frank A. Sedita III, a Democrat running for district attorney; and Democrat Barbra Kavanaugh, running in an Assembly primary against incumbent Sam Hoyt of Buffalo.

*During the second week of June 2008, the People for Accountable Government had too little money on deposit at M&T Bank to write a $1,000 check, the county elections commissioners learned during their investigation. But the committee on June 12 deposited a $1,000 check from the Friends of Joel Giambra and then wrote a $1,000 check to the Friends of Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles mayor who was holding a fundraiser in New York City.

At the same time, the Friends of Joel Giambra wrote another $1,000 check for the Villaraigosa fund when $1,000 is the maximum that can be donated to a Los Angeles mayoral candidate.

Said Giambra: “I was not aware the money I gave to Mr. Pigeon’s PAC [political action committee] was going to any specific candidates.”

*The Erie County elections commissioners cite the Villaraigosa transaction as an example of one that exceeded contribution limits, in this case California’s. Another example involves Citizens for Fiscal Integrity and the Responsible New York fund formed by billionaire B. Thomas Golisano.

The commissioners found that Responsible New York last year gave $4,000 to Citizens for Fiscal Integrity. Noted on the check was that it was to go toward the party primary expenses for Mesi in his Senate campaign.

CFI, however, had already donated some $3,000 to Mesi’s campaign. Assuming that the $4,000 was spent on CFI’s Mesi-related expenses, commissioners reason that CFI exceeded contribution limits for the primary.

From Mark Sacha: September 27, 2009

These matters involve the district attorney’s sworn responsibility to enforce the law and do justice in the public interest,” Sacha said. “These matters include instances where the power of the district attorney has been used improperly to protect political interests and to retaliate against me for pursuing an ongoing investigation.

“Prosecuting the powerless is easy,” he added. “The real test is when you are asked to investigate the powerful. District Attorney Sedita so far has failed the test.”

“Pigeon also helped elect Sedita as district attorney by helping him obtain the Conservative Party endorsement, one that Sedita used to get the Democratic endorsement despite Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan’s earlier support for another candidate.” - Buffalo News: September 29, 2009

“Frank Clark told [Pigeon] that if he was a cooperating witness, he would not be prosecuted. Everything that I’ve understood is, that was the arrangement.” - D.A. Frank Sedita: October 6, 2009

“Pigeon was a witness, period. He was never given immunity or asked for it. That is absolutely, positively incorrect.” - Former D.A. Frank Clark: October 6, 2009

From that same Buffalo News article,

He also asked why his office sent investigators to interview Lewis “Babe” Rotella of Niagara Falls, whose exploratory run for mayor of Niagara Falls was said by Pigeon to be the ultimate beneficiary of money he says he independently spent.

The source of that money was the focus of Sacha’s probe.

“It would have been a waste of time,” Sacha said. “And why would I be going through what I’m going through now?”

Frank Clark, meanwhile, characterized the term “cooperating witness” as a “term of art.”

“It normally means somebody gets something in return for something,” the former district attorney explained. “But whether he was a target or not a target has nothing to do with being a witness,” he said. “He was simply a witness.”

According to Clark, “[Pigeon] was never given immunity. There was no understanding — spoken or unspoken — that he be given a quid pro quo.”

“It never happened. Why would we give immunity to someone who was not cooperating and perhaps was the ultimate target?” - Sacha, on Pigeon September 30, 2009


One of those allegations surrounded a $10,000 political contribution from former County Executive Joel A. Giambra to a Pigeon consulting company called Landen Associates LLC. Pigeon said it was for consulting work helping Giambra publicize his accomplishments before easing into private life.

But Giambra listed it on his campaign expense report as a political contribution — not for consulting.

Pigeon said Tuesday that report notation was a mistake.

From there, Sacha said, the money went to a company called Media Co., owned by Timothy Clark. And then, Timothy Clark made a $9,000 loan to his brother’s campaign.

Giambra’s contribution traveled the circuitous route to Paul Clark, Sacha said, without any connection to the politically toxic former county executive.

Pigeon said he paid Timothy Clark’s company for consulting work on a possible mayoral run in Niagara Falls by Lewis “Babe” Rotella. 
Rotella never declared any campaign expenses or contributions from Pigeon or Timothy Clark, according to campaign reports.

And Sacha said he questioned Rotella and obtained a statement that he had never met Timothy Clark and done anything on his campaign.

Mark Sacha created a story because he was demoted for his own reasons and had his own problems.” - Steve Pigeon: June 13, 2010

“We concluded the existence of a pattern of violations of election law, some of which may involve money laundering or deliberate evasion of requirements of the election law…We thought that needed to be addressed by someone.” - Peter Kiernan, in a referral to U.S. Attorney for the SDNY Preet Bharara in 2010 (Kiernan was counsel to then-Governor David Paterson).

“They’re reckless and false, and I think he’s engaged in prosecutorial misconduct” - Steve Pigeon, discussing Mark Sacha: December 12, 2011

“I followed the election law to the letter…I was shown no favoritism because I broke no laws.” — Steve Pigeon: December 12, 2012

“This PAC is made up of a group of like-minded individuals who share the same thought processes and who are not happy with the leadership of the party” — Kristy Mazurek: September 4, 2013

“I’m not doing the dirty work of some behind-the-scenes individuals. I know every single one of the donors who has contributed to me. Whether it’s Frank Max, Steve Pigeon or Ronald McDonald, what does it matter?” — Kristy Mazurek: September 4, 2013

“I can show up as a volunteer or for lit drops or fundraisers, but I have been hands off because I know the rules and regulations. And I don’t understand these continuing, vicious attacks on Steve Pigeon. I’ve never heard such a bunch of crybabies before.” — Kristy Mazurek: September 7, 2013

“Everything was done not only to the letter but the spirit of the law,” — State Sen. Tim Kennedy: September 21, 2013

Steve Pigeon: September 21, 2013:

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.

“They’re all a bunch of bellyachers, crybabies and sore losers.” — Steve Pigeon: October 30, 2013

“I have been in compliance the entire time.” — Kristy Mazurek: October 30, 2013

“Why am I the only person in Western New York they investigate? And why is their standard for me any different than for anybody else?” — Steve Pigeon: November 3, 2013

“Every dollar brought in by donors has been documented,” she said, adding that any technical errors were corrected by amendment and “duly noted.” — Kristy Mazurek: March 11, 2014

“…frivolous, political witch hunt” … any discrepancies lying at the heart of the local complaint are “technical and clerical” in nature - Steve Pigeon: March 11, 2014

“This is about an elections official destroying a document. There is no doubt it violates the law in several areas besides election law, including abuse of power. This is exceptionally serious.” — Steve Pigeon, commenting on an allegation that former Election Commissioner Dennis Ward destroyed nominating petitions: July 22, 2014

“I’ve never seen a petition with Mike Deely’s name on it – ever. I don’t know what he’s talking about.” — Dennis Ward: July 22, 2014

“These allegations are very serious. I will press this to the fullest extent of a criminal investigation and charges.” — Kristy Mazurek: July 22, 2014

“They love making accusations, but they’re the ones breaking the law.” — Steve Pigeon: July 22, 2014

Never happened. Never, ever.” — Dennis Ward: September 4, 2014

“In the presence of all, including, of note, Assemblyman Sean Ryan, Ward ripped the petitions of Deely and Walsh into pieces and tossed the shreds in the air stating that Mr. Deely would never be elected as committeeman.” — Local NYSUT chief Mike Deely Affidavit: September 4, 2014

I didn’t see any of these things happen. It’s news to me.” — Assemblyman Sean Ryan: September 4, 2014

“The issue of conflict of interest is the reason why nothing gets done. In our area, it is especially an issue because of the connection of Pigeon to Cuomo and Sedita.” — Mark Sacha: January 31, 2015

“All these years, these half-truths and innuendoes only involve me donating or spending my own money or raising money. It’s ironic that I’m now grouped with people who have been enriching themselves….In today’s atmosphere of what’s happening in New York State, I’m fine with the fact they’re finding out I followed the law.” — Steve Pigeon: February 21, 2015

“I have not done anything wrong during my role in this, and I’ve had to endure years of this. There is no direct allegation of me coordinating with a candidate or offering any quid pro quo in any way. All you’ve got to do is look at my tax return.” — Steve Pigeon: February 21, 2015

“In politics, a lot of people and reporters say a lot things. They should either show something or shut up.” — Tom Golisano: February 21, 2015

“It sounds odd, but when you look at how I live and how much I make, it really isn’t.” — Steve Pigeon: February 21, 2015

[Pigeon] blames “clerical errors” and “sloppy” record keeping on the many questions posed about the fund. “People make mistakes, but it wasn’t me,” he said. “And the reports were amended. There was nothing criminal.” — Steve Pigeon: February 21, 2015

“I don’t know what their perception of coordination is. It’s what you might perceive versus what is actually fact.” — Kristy Mazurek: February 21, 2015

“It’s probably not worth taking these yearly hits. But I will always be a player, one way or another.” — Steve Pigeon: February 21, 2015

“Frankly, I don’t see any violations of the law. There’s nothing to hide.” — Paul Cambria on his client Steve Pigeon: May 29, 2015

“He cooperated completely to the agents who came to his door on Thursday, and I am sure the results of the investigation will show that he has done nothing wrong.” Tom Eoannou, on his client Chris Grant: May 29, 2015

“Having someone conduct a search warrant on your property is a big difference from someone having a criminal charge filed against them. Obtaining a search warrant is just a fancy way of getting evidence for law enforcement. No charges have been filed against anyone in this case.” — Rod Personius on his client Steve Casey: May 29, 2015

The Western New York Progressive Caucus (“AwfulPAC”) “…currently has minimal money, or no money in it, and is dormant.” - Joel Daniels on his client Kristy Mazurek: May 29, 2015 (Ed. note: AwfulPAC claims to have over $26,000 on hand right now.)

“When The News questioned him about the discrepancy in February, longtime associate David B. Pfaff called to accept responsibility for what he also called a clerical error.” — Buffalo News: June 2, 2015

“She has cooperated … she has answered questions,” said a person who knows Mazurek and is sympathetic to her situation. “Kristy is in a very tough spot right now. Steve Pigeon is her friend, but she doesn’t want to become a target” of law enforcement. “She’s walking on a very thin line.” — Buffalo News: June 6, 2015

“I feel much more sorry for anyone who was unfairly targeted by the [AwfulPAC]. They ran vicious campaigns. They put some candidates and their families through a lot of heartache.” — Betty Jean Grant: June 6, 2015

“In the business, it’s a classic case of hiding a true contributor.” — Buffalo News: June 6, 2015