Photo: John Carl D’Annibale
ALBANY — City Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s campaign is under fire for alleging taking more than $38,000 in excessive campaign contributions, filing late reports and hosting a fundraiser with a raffle for theater tickets, according to a complaint filed by the state Board of Elections.
Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement counsel for the state BOE, filed the complaint last month seeking a hearing to recover the $38,060 in excessive campaign contributions and $2,000 in penalties for late campaign report filings dating back to 2009. The complaint specifically notes 2017’s 10-day post-primary and 27-day post-general campaign reports.
The state also argues that the Albany mayor’s campaign accepted contributions in exchange for an opportunity to win tickets to see the Broadway show Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City, violating state General Municipal Law preventing political parties from conducting raffles.
Both Sheehan and her campaign treasurer Allen Maikels were notified of the issues on Dec. 13, but no refunds have been given to contributors for the excessive donations or the illegal raffle. The state attempted to resolve the issues through telephone conversations, but the issues persisted, according to the complaint. The complaint was filed in mid-March.
“The campaign committee has been working with state Board of Elections to amend filings and ensure compliance,” said Joe Bonilla, a Sheehan campaign spokesman, in an emailed statement Monday.
Sheehan’s campaign filings had issues last year, from missing information to improperly listed contributions, according to a Times Union analysis of the filings. Maikels previously explained that late campaign finance filings and missing information — specifically regarding contributions from the local 21st Century Albany Political Action Committee — were because costs were still being tabulated after the deadline.
According to the complaint, Sheehan’s campaign accepted more than legally allowed in campaign contributions from 16 supporters, including some from local unions and corporations.
The allowable limit for Sheehan’s campaign, including primary and general election limits, was $4,174 for the period from Nov. 6, 2013, to Nov. 7, 2017. These limits are calculated by multiplying the number of enrolled voters in a party, excluding inactive voters, by $0.05 for the primary limit and the number of registered voters in a candidate’s jurisdiction by $0.25 for the general election limit.
The top compaign contributions over the limit were from IUOE Local 158 VPAF State (Upstate New York Operating Engineers union) – with total contributions $4,126 over the limit; Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters NY Non-Partisan PEC – $4,087 over the limit; and Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 7 – $3,976 over the limit.
Some corporations that excessively contributed to Sheehan’s campaign have worked with the city, including Roemer, Walls, Gold & Mineaux, LLP – where Elayne Gold, the city’s attorney in labor contract negotiations, is a founding partner; Creighton Manning Engineering LLP – which is the lead engineer on the Madison Avenue road calming project; and Hodgson Russ LLP – which the city hired last year to examine improperly given tax breaks.
When Democratic mayoral opponent Frank Commisso Jr. criticized Sheehan for taking contributions over the limit last July during the Albany mayoral election that pitted Sheehan against Commisso and former Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin in a Democratic Primary, the incumbent mayor had said if there were any campaign contribution overages her campaign would refund the money.
“If we have any contribution that exceeds the limit, we’ll return it,” Sheehan said. “If any candidate has a question or concern about somebody exceeding the limit, that’s an easy one to fix.”
It’s unclear why the refunds haven’t been given. Those involved in her campaign declined to answer specific questions or comment further on the state’s complaint.
Sugarman declined to comment because it is a pending matter.
According to a complaint filed by the state Board of Elections., Sheehan’s campaign accepted more than legally allowed in campaign contributions from 16 contributors – from local unions to corporations. Contributions that total over $4,174 for the period from Nov. 6, 2013, to Nov. 7, 2017, are considered over the limit.
IOUE Local 158 VPAF State: $8,300 ($4,126 over limit)
NRCC NY Non-Partisan PEC: $8,261 ($4,087 over limit)
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 7: $8,150 ($3,976 over limit)
Clough Harbor & Associates LLP: $7,650 ($3,476 over limit)
Roemer, Wallens, Gold & Mineaux LLP: $7,500 ($3,326 over limit)
Rosenblum Development Corp: $7,250 ($3,076 over limit)
Hodgson Russ LLP: $7,200 ($3,026 over limit)
Creighton Manning Engineering LLP: $6,730 ($2,556 over limit)
EventBrite: $6,353.13 ($2,179.13 over limit)
Omni Management Group LLC: $6,050 ($1,876 over limit)
Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP: $5,800 ($1,626 over limit)
BMT Management: $5,600 ($1,426 over limit)
Albany Ventures Inc.: $5,250 ($1,076 over limit)
Hershberg & Hershberg: $5,000 ($826 over limit)
Gordon Management CO LLC: $4,900 ($725 over limit)
David Bauer: $4,850 ($676 over limit)