New York State Exposed: Campaign spending questioned

Posted at: 05/12/2014 6:18 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

There are questions surrounding the campaign bank accounts of some prominent lawmakers in the area. One report claims some of the money was spent at casinos and on cigars. 

According to City and State, a news organization that covers New York politics, the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption had begun investigating questionable campaign spending. Two of the targets were reportedly politicians from western New York.

Cigars, tanning salons, casinos, chocolates and wine are just a few of the campaign expenses that were flagged by the Moreland Commission, according to the commission, documents obtained by City and State. It reports the commission had begun an inquiry of about two dozen lawmakers, tracking their campaign spending. Among them were Republican Senators Patrick Gallivan and George Maziarz.

Jon Lentz, Albany Bureau Chief, City and State, said, "These were two of the people that seemed to get the most scrutiny from the commission."

Over a six year period, Lentz says the documents show Maziarz shelled out more than $140,000 in campaign funds without identifying exactly what it is he spent it on. The report says $125,000 was used at retailers like Target and BJ’s Wholesale. Another $10,000 apparently went for chocolates, flowers and wine.

Lentz said, "Another interesting expenditure was about $31,000 to a company called MEM Enterprises, which appears to be a company run by his brother, the senator's brother."

In an emailed statement, Maziarz defended the expenses, saying his brother was a paid consultant and he says the other questioned spending went toward community donations and grassroots activities. Maziarz said in his statement, “The Moreland Commission never asked me for any information, made any inquiries to my office or raised any issue with my campaign.  We have followed all campaign laws, reported all expenditures and have always been very transparent."  

As for Gallivan, the report says he had no un-itemized expenses, but he did have $80,000 in credit card expenses that he failed to report.

Lentz said, "And that's where you got these hundreds of dollars on cigars, tanning salons, casinos.”  

In a statement emailed to News10NBC, Gallivan said, “All expended funds were related to a political campaign or the holding of public office as required by applicable election law." 

What will happen to the commission's work now is not entirely clear. After disbanding last month, the commission's files were turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office, but federal prosecutors are not saying what they plan to do with that information.