Venue for fundraiser causes some gas pain for Cuomo - The Buffalo News
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Venue for fundraiser causes some gas pain for Cuomo

A few points to ponder with polls opening in less than 48 hours:

• Why did organizers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s big fundraiser on the day after Election Day move the affair from the Hyatt Regency Buffalo to Templeton Landing?

Cuomo’s staff passed on answering that question, but leaders of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York are definitely wondering. They are among the state’s top fracking proponents, who remain miffed that the Cuomo administration has yet to signal whether it will permit the controversial practice. Now it turns out IOGA was scheduled to meet the same night, right across the hall from the big soiree Cuomo supporters hope will raise at least $500,000 for the 2014 campaign. Suddenly, Cuomo is at Templeton.

“It may or may not be a coincidence; maybe he was not comfortable with us right across the hall,” said Brad Gill, IOGA’s executive director. “I certainly find it ironic.”

Gill is even more concerned, he said, that top officials of the state Public Service Commission who were slated to address his group – especially in light of new state regulations for pipelines that directly affect IOGA members – have also suddenly canceled.

“That’s very troubling. Any time you have a state agency regulating an industry,” he said, “you have a responsibility to share what is expected.”

“Amusing” is the word Gill uses to describe the situation.

• Speaking of Cuomo, what race will he most closely watch on Tuesday night?

The guess here is the mansion TV will be tuned into New Jersey results more than anything in New York State. GOP Gov. Chris Christie is projected to rack up big numbers on Tuesday, and the Cuomo political team would dearly love to surpass them in 2014. After all, 2016 is an election year very much on the minds of the neighboring governors, and big numbers only fuel the speculation.

• So whatever happened to the WNY Progressive Caucus that spent $267,000 on candidates opposed by Democratic Headquarters?

The caucus, with close ties to former Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon (and now the object of a Board of Elections investigation), has proven dormant during the general election after spending $112,000 on TV ads for Democratic sheriff candidate Dick Dobson. Some Democrats say the caucus accomplished its goal of knocking off a headquarters candidate in the primary and then went on its merry way.

Pigeon and caucus Treasurer Kristy Mazurek say potential donors for the general election were scared off by newspaper articles and complaints lodged with the Board of Elections and the state’s new Moreland Commission. Pigeon said he maxed out on his donations to the caucus anyway, though he expects to donate at least $10,000 directly to the Dobson campaign to allow the Democratic candidate (who has proven woeful at raising money) to get on TV at least for this weekend.

• Has Pigeon, who is assuming more of a role in Cuomo’s political organization, been active in other parts of the state?

We’ll answer that question with another question. What would you expect?

Pigeon helped raise money for Lovely Warren, the Rochester City Council president on her way to becoming mayor of the Flower City. He helped Warren’s primary campaign and hosted a Thursday fundraiser for her at Chef’s Restaurant that was slated to attract Mayor Byron Brown, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and other allies.

What is the Quote of the Week from Pigeon in reaction to the Board of Elections probe of the WNY Progressive Caucus, to which he contributed almost $100,000?

“Why am I the only person in Western New York they investigate? And why is their standard for me any different than for anybody else?”


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