Some candidates fail to file campaign finance reports
Republicans running for the Philipstown Town Board and the District 1 seat on the Putnam County Legislature failed to file mandatory campaign finance disclosure records due by Oct. 1, nor did they explain whether they obtained exemptions because their campaigns have raised or spent less than $1,000.
Searches this week of a state Board of Elections database turned up nothing from Barbara Scuccimarra, the GOP candidate for legislator, or Town Board candidates Neal Tomann and Sarina Tamagna. Nor was there anything submitted on their behalf by the Philipstown Republican Committee or the Putnam County Republican Committee.
None of the Republican candidates replied to inquiries this week about campaign finances. Anthony Scannapieco, the leader of the Putnam Republicans (and a county election commissioner), also did not respond.
With one exception, the Democratic candidates in the Highlands each filed financial reports, as did both candidates in the Putnam County sheriff and Beacon city judge races.
In Cold Spring, the Better Together team — which includes mayoral candidate Vinny Tamagna and trustee candidates Cathryn Fadde, Jeffrey Phillips and Yaslyn Daniels — has nothing in the state campaign finance database. But Tamagna said each of its candidates applied for a waiver under a state election law permitting a candidate or committee in a town or village with a population of less than 10,000, such as Cold Spring or Philipstown, not to file if they do not raise or spend more than $1,000.
Tamagna said Thursday (Oct. 7) that while Better Together has purchased newspaper ads and produced campaign materials, “we are not doing anything glossy. Most of my stuff is done in-house and it would be absurd to spend more than $1,000 per candidate to reach 900 households. And none of us are taking any contributions.”
The opposing ticket, Forge Ahead (mayoral candidate Kathleen Foley and trustee candidates Eliza Starbuck and Tweeps Phillips Woods), filed a regular financial disclosure report.
It was not immediately clear whether other local candidates or committees filed for exemptions; the state elections board said that information can only be released after a Freedom of Information Law request.
In Beacon, six Democrats are running unopposed for six open council seats. None filed individual reports but they were covered by a filing from the Beacon Democratic Committee. In the race for a Dutchess legislative seat that includes Ward 4 in Beacon, neither the campaign of Republican Ron Davis or any committee supporting him appears in the database. His Democratic opponent filed.
The forms due Oct. 1 were those required 32 days in advance of a general election. Candidates or their committees must file again on Oct. 22, or 11 days before the election.
History has shown that due diligence is not a requirement for some. If you don’t mind looking over your shoulder. Hey it works for ‘presidents’…..
As the treasurer for the Forge Ahead team, I want to respond to the assertion by Vinny Tamagna that he and the three trustee candidates running as the Better Together team each filed exemptions with the New York State Board of Elections so they do not need to file campaign finance reports. However, they do not meet the criteria.
First, a waiver is only available to a committee supporting a single candidate for office who is running in a town or village with a population of less than 10,000.
Second, the committee must spend less than $1,000 to avoid filing. Mr. Tamagna is mistaken when he claims that each candidate on a ticket is entitled to a $1,000 exemption.
I am keenly aware of the costs of print ads and campaign materials since I must report expenditures but also send copies of all campaign materials for the Forge Ahead team and its candidates to the Board of Elections. Each week I have been tracking campaign materials for Mr. Tamagna’s team. My rough and conservative estimate is that it has spent in excess of $2,500 on print ads alone in the Putnam County News & Recorder, with the election still three weeks away.
Better Together has also printed lawn signs and held events. If Better Together is not accepting contributions, as it claims, where did that money come from?
I urge Mr. Tamagna to comply with state election laws and register his candidacy and his team’s, and complete the campaign financial disclosure report due by Oct. 22. He has already missed two disclosure deadlines, on July 15 and Oct. 1.
Join me in tracking his compliance by checking the Board of Elections database at publicreporting.elections.ny.gov. And join me in voting for Kathleen Foley, Eliza Starbuck and Tweeps Phillips Woods on Nov. 2 for honest and good government.
On its Instagram account, Better Together wrote: “In case anyone had any questions about our team filing with the NY Board of Elections, this was done by all our candidates. Our team filed the appropriate CF-05 [waiver] form when we began this exciting journey a few months back! We also have not asked for or received any donations in which we would be prompted to file any other documentation. We hope that all parties can stick to the issues of the campaign and not confuse the public or our voters.”
To clarify, the state Board of Elections says that “candidates and authorized committees solely supporting one candidate for public office in towns, cities or villages having a population under 10,000, where the candidate and/or committee does not raise or spend in excess of $1,000 in the aggregate for the campaign, are not required to file campaign financial disclosure reports. This threshold includes the personal funds of the candidate.”
Thank you for digging into the campaign filings of candidates for local offices. Elected officials and candidates talk about accountability and transparency and declare their allegiance to law and order. Yet in this case, most haven’t followed the most basic laws to ensure accountability and transparency in their campaigns.