Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown has started a second political committee, raising more than $150,000 in just three months and funneling $7,300 to Antoine Thompson's successful campaign for Brown's old State Senate seat.
Brown's Leadership Council provides the mayor a separate fund through which he can give to his political favorites, dissuade potential challengers and collect from city employees and contractors.
It's a common practice. County Executive Joel A. Giambra, for example, has his Friends of Joel Giambra committee and his Giambra Lighthouse Leadership Council.
Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz has the Friends of Paul A. Tokasz and his WNY Majority Leader Political Action Committee.
Buffalo's former mayor still has the Friends of Anthony Masiello and the Mayor's Council.
Early donors to Brown's Leadership Council included City Hall appointees who owe their jobs to the mayor, such as Public Works Director Joseph Giambra, spokesman Peter Cutler, Parking Violations Bureau Director Leonard Sciolino and some Police Department brass. The typical gift was $500.
The biggest givers were companies doing business with city government or developers who want to be in good stead with City Hall.
Ciminelli Development Co. gave $5,500 in April, the largest single contribution. Savarino Construction Services Corp. gave $4,500, and Samuel Savarino, the company's CEO and president, gave $500 under his name.
Capitol Partners, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that has lobbied for the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., also gave $500.
Brown's new committee made a quiet entrance as far as its public reporting requirement is concerned. Its treasurer filed the first report with the Erie County Board of Elections but not with the state Board of Elections, which now asks local candidates to file electronically so that reports can be placed on the state Web site.
At midyear, Brown's Leadership Council showed a balance of $142,235, which, when added to the money in his Brown for Buffalo fund, gave him $319,000.