An Erie County elections commissioner says the district attorney's office should investigate the G. Steven Pigeon-B. Thomas Golisano pipeline delivering thousands of dollars to their favorite candidates.
But Diane LaVallee thinks Frank Clark's district attorney's office should recuse itself and refer the matter to a special prosecutor.
LaVallee is the Republican candidate for Erie County district attorney running against Democrat Frank A. Sedita III, a recipient of Pigeon-Golisano cash and Clark's chosen successor.
A Pigeon-run political action committee, Citizens for Fiscal Integrity, has given Sedita $500; Golisano has given Sedita $5,000; and their mutual friend, Hormoz Mansouri, gave $7,500 to the Sedita campaign fund.
"A lawyer is obliged to avoid even a semblance of impropriety," LaVallee said. "It is not fair to the public, it is not fair to the people who are making the accusations and it is not fair to the people who are being accused if the referee of the battle is one of those being paid off by the accused," she said.
Clark has said he will review the allegations against Pigeon and Golisano, but could not be reached to comment on whether he should recuse himself. Sedita refused to say he would recuse himself if he became district attorney and inherited an investigation of a case against Pigeon and Golisano.
"If I felt there was a legitimate question as to my objectivity, I would not hesitate to ask the court to appoint a special prosecutor," he said. But he doesn't think it's necessary. "Every time some political operative or political partisan makes an allegation, it doesn't trigger a special prosecutor," he said.
Pigeon is the former Erie County Democratic Party chairman who supports political challengers of his choosing and has provided strategic guidance to the Sedita campaign.
Golisano is the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Sabres who with Pigeon set up a fund, Responsible New York, to replace entrenched incumbents with candidates he likes.
Erie County's Republican elections commissioner, Ralph Mohr, alleges Pigeon laundered thousands of dollars from Golisano's committee and others to conceal the origin and avoid state contribution limits.
With a focus on the State Senate race involving the Pigeon-supported Democrat Joe Mesi against Republican Michael Ranzenhofer, Mohr sent a letter documenting his evidence to district attorneys in Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties.