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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v8n43 (10/21/2009) » Section: Week in Review

Seven Days: the straight dope from the week that was

Niagara Falls attorney and renowned “business gonnegtion” John Bartolomei filed a lawsuit today in Erie County’s State Supreme Court of behalf of the deep-pocketed political committee Responsible New York; its billionaire funder, Sabres owner and Paychex founder Tom Golisano; its director, political operative Steve Pigeon; its treasurer, failed State Assembly candidate Gary Parenti; and two political committees Pigeon controls, Citizens for Fiscal Integrity and People for Responsible Government. The suit accuses the Erie County Board of Elections and its two commissioners, Democrat Dennis Ward and Republican Ralph Mohr, of conducting an “inapporpriate, improper and illegal, fraudulent and baseless investigation” into the doings of Responsible New York and the two other committees. In a nutshell, Mohr and Ward began digging into accusations that Responsible New York—an unauthorized committee with no limits on how much it spends, so long as it does dot coordinate activities with candidates it supports—had in fact coordinated activities with at least two candiadiates, Baby Joe Mesi and Barbra Kavanaugh, during the 2008 election season. Mohr and Ward also also examined the workings of Citizens for Fiscal Integrity and People for Responsible Government, based on suspicion that Pigeon’s chronicly under-reporting committees were laundering donations in order to circumvent state election law. The suit argues that those investigations were politically motivated: Mesi ran in (and won) a Democratic primary for New York State senate against Ward’s wife, Michele Iannello, and his brother, Dan; the complaint that may have spurred the investigation was written by Buffalo attorney Jeremy Toth, a partisan of Assemblyman sam Hoyt, whom Responsible New York targeted in 2008 (and likely will target again in 2010); and all these allegations are being taken seriously by the New York State Board of Elections because the powers-that-be in Albany are miffed at Golisano and Pigeon for orchestrating the June leadership coup in the New York State Senate, and intend to discredit Responsible New York before it makesgood on its promise to shake up the Assembly leadership next year. A companion suit was filed against the Albany County Board of Elections, too, according to Albany attorney E. Stewart Jones, who said papers would be served this week. At press time, neither ward nor Mohr has been served. You can read the lawsuit at AV Daily at

Scorecard: The Week's Winners & Losers

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