BY MICHAEL RICONDA
As the race for county executive continues, competition for the most impressive campaign finances also progresses, with each candidate vying for the biggest numbers from the best donors. However, a clear winner in the area of fundraising remains to be seen.
With the current figures rolling out thanks to campaign finance submissions to New York State, candidates have had time to pause and consider their strategies for securing higher rankings among the fundraisers and managing costs which have already proven to cost quite a bit. As of the 2013 July Periodic Report, Suffern mayor Dagan LaCorte has amassed the greatest amount of money, with $300,351.29 and no loans. Running behind him is Legislator Ilan S. Schoenberger with $277,180.72 currently at his disposal, including $100,000 in loans to himself at the beginning of the campaign.
Legislator Ed Day and former Spring Valley Justice David Fried, have $218,497 and $106,828.36, respectively. Day has $25,000 in loans, while Fried has $100,000. Candidate Anthony Leon has not reported any campaign finance figures.
When examined from the vantage point of total receipts in the past six months from donations, fundraisers, and loans, however, the picture changes. Day comes out on top with $255,690.35, LaCorte has $214,924.26, Fried has $164,333.42, and Schoenberger has $116,564.87. Subtracting self-loans or donations from the totals, Day looks even better by comparison for the past six month window, raising $230K vs LaCorte’s $144K, Schoenberger’s $116.5K and Fried’s $64K.
Day said he has a broad base of support, which enhances his fundraising capabilities. “We have the strongest fundraising so far,” Day argued. “We have the broadest base of support, in my view that includes the business community and a cross-section of local people, small business and citizens of various parties.”
Fried’s camp, meanwhile, explained his fundraising is appropriate for Fried’s grassroots strategy. Fried Campaign Manager Stephen Papas pointed out that though the campaign’s operations were not as big as others, they were effective for their value.
“A lot of the things other campaigns can do, we can do as well, just for less,” Papas said.
In spite of the current figures, candidates still have ample opportunity to raise needed funds. According to Republican Party Chairman Vincent Reda, an effective county executive race is typically run with $400,000 to $500,000 and the chances of a winner having less are “not probable.”
“I think the real test will come the next filing to see how much the candidates have raised,” Reda said to the Rockland County Times. “It appears to me at this point that they are all doing rather well.”
Reda went on to explain that candidates pulling ahead is possible but unlikely and that significant gaps this late in the race would be difficult to close.
“Once you fall behind in fundraising, it’s very difficult to make it up,” Reda added.
Top donors for all candidates have been private citizens, some with very deep pockets. As expected, LaCorte’s campaign was funded partially by himself and his family. The July filing revealed Lacorte received two large contributions from Stacy LaCorte valued at $15,000 and $1,000 and five infusions of cash from the candidate’s own finances which total $53,500.
The single largest donation from a non-family member to Lacorte was a $12,500 figure from Olga Sosa. A $7,500 donation from Lawrence Inserra was also reported.
LaCorte also received a $500 donation from TNT Design Group, which he in turn has paid, along with associated TNT Media Strategies, over $67,000 in the past six months to handle campaign mailings and strategy. TNT is run by former Assembly-member Ryan Karben, who resigned the office during a scandal several years ago. Last filing period Karben’s PAC put close to $30,000 into Lacorte’s campaign and Lacorte in turn purchased a similar amount of services from him, raising some eyebrows. This go-round, it looks as though Karben is just plain getting rich off of LaCorte. All told, since the beginning of the campaign Karben has sold LaCorte approximately $100,000 worth of services.
LaCorte’s campaign manager Slobodan Cristobal has also been fairly well-compensated, earning an even $1,000 per week for his efforts.
Schoenberger, though having the largest amount of cash on hand, also has the broadest distribution of top donors. Seventeen of his top donors were reported to have contributed $4,000 each, with most others giving smaller amounts in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Schoenberger’s donor pool is not without its controversial figures, either. Schoenberger reported a small $250 donation from Friends of Noramie Jasmin, Spring Valley’s mayor who is now embroiled in a bribery scandal. He also reported a $150 donation from Larry Weissman, the Democratic Party attorney accused of attempting to threaten and bribe fellow County Legislator Frank Sparaco. And Schoenberger donated $250 to Sparaco, a top county Republican.
Day’s top donors followed a roughly similar distribution pattern as Schoenberger, with his two top donors, Michael and Bernadette Garvey, contributing $8,500 each. Paul Seid gave $8,000 in total while Day’s four third place donors gave $5,000 each. In addition, Day recorded donations from both Physicians Family Health Services PC and Premier Collision Center LLC valued at $5,000 each and three contributions from fellow Legislator Douglas Jobson, one of which was refunded, totaling in at $249.
Fried’s largest donors were also the smallest of the top contributors, with a $3,500 donation from Portables Unlimited LLC, a $2,000 donation from John Archibald and three donations from Amed Khan totaling $5,000. He also received two donations from Legislator Nancy Low Hogan totaling $134.
Breakdowns for individual and corporate donations are also telling. LaCorte leads with $166,324.26 in individual donations, including the money provided by him and his family. Day comes in second with $97,395, while Schoenberger follows close behind at $87,295 and Fried is a distant last at $41,581. Day leads in corporate donations with $18,448, while LaCorte has $6,400, Fried follows with $6,124 and Schoenberger comes in last at $4,200.
LaCorte leads in the catch-all area of other monetary payments as well, tallying $34,400. Schoenberger and Day follow close to each other with $24,425 and $21,784, respectively, while Fried comes in last with $10,825.