Kristy Mazurek, candidate for the 143rd District Assembly seat.
Kristy Mazurek, candidate for the 143rd District Assembly seat.

The Public Record: Mazurek's Money, Another Public Forum for DA Candidates

by / Sep. 7, 2016 10am EST

THE BEST OF THE NEW CAMPAIGN FINANCE FILINGS: Last Friday, September 2, the 11-day pre-primary deadline for candidates to file campaign finance disclosure forms with the New York State Board of Elections.

For us, it’s like the first day of a long holiday season filled with delights and curiosities, parties and outbursts of familial dysfunction. The following are a few notes gathered at the tail end of the Labor Day weekend, as reports became available, in time for your primary election consideration. 

We begin with the strangest of this fall’s candidates, the most likely to yield idiosyncracies. First up is the campaign of Kristy Mazurek. 

Mazurek, running for the Democratic line for the 143rd Assembly seat against endorsed Democrat Monica Wallace, reports a deficit of $645.36. Technically, this is illegal: A campaign cannot spend money it does not have (otherwise what is the point in pretending to report the sources of the money it spends), and so cannot report a negative balance. 

But Mazurek is an accomplice of the political hack Steve Pigeon, currently indicted for bribing a New York State Supreme Court judge but most notorious for being a conduit for the illegal flow of money to and from political campaigns. She was chair of the Western New York Progressive Caucus, for example, the political action committee whose 2013 campaign season depredations led circuitously to the charges Pigeon faces now.

Pigeon-affiliated campaigns have a long history of reporting negative balances, not reporting at all, or crowding all financial activities into the days right before an election day, so that the donors and recipients need not reveal that activity until after the voting is done.

Mazurek refunded several donations, which may explain (but not excuse) her campaign’s deficit: $200 to fellow Pigeonista David Pfaff, who is running her campaign; $100 to Guy Marlette, a Republican from Williamsville who ran for Erie County Legislature last year; and $800 to her father, Henry Mazurek, a long-time Cheektowaga politician whose relationships are the basis of her career.

Mazurek received $2,000 from a group called WNY Freedom, headquartered at 11 Deerhurst Park Boulevard in Buffalo, a property once owned by Pfaff, though current Erie County tax records say it’s been owned by Fannie Mae since March of this year. WNY Freedom was formed in 2013, with $1,000 in donations from limited liability corporations associated with Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Development. The Erie County Republican Party kicked in $4,700 a year or so later, and more recently the committee received $500 from the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America District #2, of which Pfaff has been a board member. 

That $2,000 donation to Mazurek is the first time that WNY Freedom appears to have spent any money on a campaign, though one can’t be certain: WNY Freedom itself doesn’t appear to have filed a campaign finance disclosure report this past Friday, as that donation would require it to do.

Mazurek’s opponent in the Democratic primary is attorney Monica Wallace, who reports $49,701.93 on hand as of last week. She is the endorsed Democrat and will enjoy party and union backing, too, in this last week before the primary.

On to Chris Jacobs, about whom there is nothing strange at all: The Republican candidate for the 60th District State Senate seat is notable only for the amount of money he has on hand compared to his opponents. His closing balance last week was  $453,971.57, and he has already spent $93,523.15. His endorsed Democratic competition, Amber Small, has tracked close on expenditures at $83,033.24 but has just $33,027.76 on hand. Small faces a primary challenge from former state senator and Buffalo councilman Al Coppola, who has on hand $12,813.85, pretty much entirely his own money. Also self-funded is Jacobs’s Republican primary opponent, three-time candidate Kevin Stocker, who has $20,392 on hand.

Stocker and Coppola will continue to fend for themselves; no one else will fund their campaigns. Small can look forward to expenditures from state and local Democrats and unions on her behalf; the Jacobs campaign has been abetted by some out-of-town special interest money already, namely a glossy mailer paid for by a Connecticut-based group that supports the expansion of charter schools, a movement with which Jacobs has long been affiliated. 

ANOTHER PUBLIC FORUM FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY CANDIDATES: There is much more to say about the race for Erie County District Attorney—at least about the three Democrats vying in next Tuesday’s primary—but you’ll have to read about here on Monday morning.

If you can’t wait until then, get over to Elim Christian Fellowship, 70 Chalmers Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side, this Thursday, September 8, at 7pm. There,  VOICE-Buffalo—will host a public meeting at which the activist group— 60 faith communities and organizations—will ask all four candidates for DA to address the way Erie County runs its jail and holding center in particular, and the way law enforcement agencies deal with minority and at-risk populations generally.

Specifically, each will be asked to pledge to commit to the following:

  • to bolstering restorative justice programs that route first-time offenders away from prison; 
  • to implement programs that address offenders who are plagued by mental illness, PTSD, drug addiction, and other ailments; 
  • and to support crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers and judges. 

ASI CANDIDATE SURVEYS: Each election cycle, Arts Services Initiative of Western New York asks candidates for public office to respond to a survey of questions regarding public support for the arts. And each election cycle, The Public publishes their responses, unedited. Read their responses, here.