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Buffalo Democrats will choose among three candidates in the Sept. 12 mayoral primary. But, according to Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, only one of them has not received money from two controversial Buffalo developers.
"I'm the only candidate who has not accepted money from Carl Paladino nor LPCiminelli; two of the biggest developers in the city of Buffalo," Grant told a local news station. "The fact they have not contributed to my campaign gives me the freedom to be independent of any political strings attached to me."
Paladino, a major figure in Buffalo development, is the founder and chairman of Ellicott Development. LPCiminelli was run by Louis P. Ciminelli until his indictment on federal corruption charges in 2016 for allegedly rigging state construction bids. Ciminelli has since resigned.
Grant, the underdog, faces Mayor Byron Brown, a three-term incumbent, and Mark Schroeder, the city’s comptroller. Brown had $582,167 in his campaign account at the most recent filing, more than four times what Schroeder had. Grant had $11,986.
Is she right that she’s the only candidate who hasn’t taken money from Paladino or Ciminelli?
Donations to Brown
Brown is the only candidate who has received donations from either developer since his last election in 2013. He received $2,500 from Louis Ciminelli in 2015. Brown has said he will set aside the donation from Ciminelli until the trial is resolved.
William Paladino, Carl Paladino’s son, gave Brown $2,000 earlier this year. William Paladino, who is Carl's son, is the current chief executive officer of Ellicott Development and has worked at the company for more than two decades.
Brown received a total of $12,000 from Ciminelli during his first and second terms. The company gave Brown $6,000 during those terms.
Paladino contributed $100 to Brown’s campaign in 2013. William Paladino donated $500 the same year.
Brown also used a second political committee to support other candidates during his first term. The account has not taken or spent money since 2009. Ciminelli donated $1,000 to the account between himself and his company.
Brown did not receive donations from either developer when he was in the State Senate from 2001 to 2005.
Donations to Schroeder
Schroeder received $3,500 from Louis Ciminelli when he first ran for comptroller in 2011. Ciminelli gave him another $5,000 in 2015.
Ellicott Development gave Schroeder $200 in 2011. William Paladino gave him $500 in 2012.
Schroeder also served in the State Assembly from 2005 to 2011. He took $1,750 from Louis Ciminelli and $150 from Ellicott Development in that time.
Donations to Grant
Grant ran primary campaigns against State Sen. Tim Kennedy in 2012 and 2014. She did not receive any contributions from either Paladino or Ciminelli.
Grant served on the Buffalo Common Council and Buffalo School Board before her election to the county legislature in 2007.
Her filings for Common Council no longer exist. Local candidates were not required to file with the state Board of Elections at the time, and the Erie County Board of Elections was not required to hold on to the records after five years.
So to the extent of what we know from state filings, Grant has not received money from either developer or their families.
Grant said she was the "only candidate who has not accepted money from Carl Paladino nor LPCiminelli."
Because Carl Paladino is the chairman of Ellicott Development, and his son runs it as CEO, we included contributions from him, his son and the company in our rulling.
Grant did not specify a time frame. Her two rivals for the mayor's office have not received contributions from either developer during the current campaign. But we understood her to mean contributions during their entire political careers.
Filings show Grant is the only candidate who has not received money from either developer. Brown is the only candidate to take money from both since 2013.
We rate her statement True.
"Standing room only at 1st Democratic mayoral debate", Aug. 18, 2017, Spectrum News
Phone conversation with press staff from Legislator Grant’s office
Filings obtained from the state Board of Elections, accessed Aug. 21 - 23
"New poll shows Brown leads in the race for Buffalo mayor", Aug. 14, 2017, Buffalo News
"Brown fund raises $150,000", Nov. 11, 2006, Buffalo News
"Who has returned campaign cash donated by Ciminelli?", Sept. 29, 2016, Buffalo News
"Ciminelli, two execs charged with bribery, bid rigging" Sept. 22, 2016, Buffalo News
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