The state’s Republican committee spent nearly $60,000 on Riverhead candidates in the 2021 races
The New York Republican State Committee spent nearly $60,000 on campaigns for candidates in the Riverhead Town offices last year, according to campaign disclosure reports filed with the State Board of Elections.
The committee spent $19,376.10 on Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, $15,190.46 on Councilor Ken Rothwell, and $6,299 each on Councilor Bob Kern, Highways Superintendent Mike Zaleski, Evaluator Laverne Tennenberg and the evaluator Dana Brown.
Several mailers for the Riverhead Republican slate were paid by the state committee, according to imprints on the mail pieces, which came out late in the campaign. One side of the senders promoted the entire Republican slate with a positive message and the other side contained an attack on supervisor candidate Catherine Kent.
The state committee sent at least one other mail promoting Aguiar alone.
The amount spent on Riverhead’s campaigns is miniscule compared to other races, such as the more than $1.5 million the state committee lost in the 2021 Nassau district attorneys’ race. Most of the state committee’s spending on behalf of candidates last year was in county races across the state, including in Suffolk. But the committee spent money on races in town. He endorsed a dozen candidates in municipal races in Suffolk County, in addition to candidates from Riverhead: candidates in Islip and Huntington, as well as the town clerk of Brookhaven.
The New York State Democratic Committee also spent large sums of money on most county and some city contests last year, but spent no money on Riverhead candidates.
Local and county party officials, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said county committees often transfer funds to state committees to pay for mailings and other expenses at county races and city, because the state committee obtains more advantageous prices. Party officials also said some donors are paying large sums to the state committee for particular candidates to protect donations from public disclosure. The state committee must disclose which candidates it allocates expenses to, but not where the funding comes from.
The only significant Republican State Committee donor with known ties to Riverhead is billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, owner of United Riverhead Terminal. He donated $50,000 to the state committee in October. A spokesman for Catsimatidis, attorney Nelson Happy, said Catsimatidis has no say in how the state committee spends the money it gives.
The state’s Republican committee has only spent money on Riverhead races three times in recent elections: $12,450 on Aguiar’s behalf in 2019, $10,919 for the municipal oversight campaign from then-Councillor Jodi Giglio in 2015 and $6,835 for Giglio’s 2013 council run.
Riverhead Republicans swept the election in November, winning all contested seats in a landslide.
Aguiar has raised $15,755 since the Nov. 29 report
According to January periodic reports released last week, Aguiar has raised $15,755 since the 27-day general report on Nov. 29, with his biggest contributions being $1,000 donations from Westhampton Beach’s Noisi Firearms gun store, G2D Development Corp (building developers on Osborn Avenue and Main Street), LI Drag Racing Club (the company behind the Long Island Needs a Drag Strip Facebook page), and J. Petrocelli Contracting Inc.
Aguiar has nearly $20,000 in her campaign coffer, although she also has $20,000 in loans she has given to her current campaign, according to her report.
Aguiar’s campaign also returned $2,191 in contributions, according to the January periodic report. Two of those refunds — $1,000 from the Long Island Builders PAC and $691 from the East End Commercial Real Estate — were both paid out to entities that contributed above the $1,185 limit from the last election cycle. only one contributor was allowed to donate. (Editor’s note: Aguiar’s report lists multiple Long Island Builders PAC refunds with the same check number. This is assumed to be an error.)
Aguiar previously refunded more than $15,000, and then another $4,500, in excess campaign contributions that exceeded the legal limit for a single contributor. The campaign remains $1,130 above the contribution limit of Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards LLC, which is currently before the city’s planning board seeking approval to build a new tasting room.
Aguiar was the only candidate to receive an influx of donations after the election. Other winning candidates did not list any contributions in their commission’s January progress reports.
However, in a 27-day post-general report amended on January 18, Rothwell’s campaign lists an unallocated contribution of $3,415 on November 20. . He said the money is total contributions via ticket sales below $99, which do not require donor disclosure.
The campaign committees of former Democratic candidates Catherine Kent and Evelyn Hobson-Womack had not filed a January progress report as of Monday. According to the 27-day post-general reports, they have $4,913 and $2,090 left in their campaign accounts, respectively. The Riverhead Town Democratic Committee filed a “non-activity” report instead of a periodic report.
The only Democrat to file a campaign finance disclosure report was City Council candidate Juan Micieli-Martinez, who listed a $500 donation from Farm Country Kitchen on Oct. 20 — a contribution that was supposedly leaked in the 11 days preceding – general report.
In the race for governor of New York State, incumbent Kathy Hochul has raised $21.6 million, the most of any candidate running. Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is challenging Hochul for the Democratic nomination, raised $3.3 million. Another challenger, New York City public attorney and former lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams, raised just $222,000.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, the current front-runner for state Republican committee endorsements, has raised $4.2 million since his last report and currently has $5.6 million in the bank. Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, said he raised $763,000, with $1.3 million in the bank. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York mayor and Donald Trump lawyer Judi Giuliani, said he raised just $85,000 for his gubernatorial campaign.
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