Pigeon can’t cite ‘clerical errors’ to explain current situation, sources say - The Buffalo News

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Pigeon can’t cite ‘clerical errors’ to explain current situation, sources say

Throughout two decades as one of New York State’s most prodigious political fundraisers, G. Steven Pigeon has more than once endured accusations that he follows his own version of election law.

And when facing frequent questions about his activities, Pigeon has clung to a pattern of citing “clerical errors” as the reason for many discrepancies in his campaign finance reports. Though no charges have been filed, just about all of those familiar with the current investigation into a political committee called the WNY Progressive Caucus connected to the former Erie County Democratic chairman say he now faces a situation far more serious than mere typographical errors.

Some of the technicalities involving Pigeon include:

• Federal tax liens of about $118,000. Those liabilities were not disclosed in February when he invited The Buffalo News to examine his tax returns proving his financial ability to make major political contributions – such as the $100,000 he gave the Progressive Caucus in 2013.

Dennis C. Vacco, the former state attorney general serving as Pigeon’s attorney, offered no comment Tuesday on the tax liens or whether his client had paid the money cited by the Internal Revenue Service.

• “Clerical errors” that Pigeon claims are behind discrepancies in figures reported to the Board of Elections for purchases of television advertising by the Progressive Caucus and the actual amounts spent at local stations.

• Campaign finance reports (for which he was not personally responsible) indicating he received a $25,000 consulting fee from the Progressive Caucus. Pigeon said he never received the payment, and blamed “sloppy” record-keeping for the entry, which he said was mistaken.

When The News questioned him about the discrepancy in February, longtime associate David B. Pfaff called to accept responsibility for what he also called a clerical error.

• When former Assistant District Attorney Mark A. Sacha accused local prosecutors of providing Pigeon a political pass on alleged election law violations in 2009, Pigeon labeled as a “mistake” a key transaction from the campaign fund of former County Executive Joel A. Giambra.

The $10,000 sum from Giambra to a Pigeon consulting company called Landen Associates LLC later became a key point in Sacha’s contention that two successive district attorneys of Erie County looked the other way regarding Pigeon’s political spending.

Pigeon at the time denied any wrongdoing and said the money paid for consulting work that helped Giambra publicize his accomplishments before easing into private life.

But Giambra listed it on his campaign finance report as a political contribution – not for consulting. Pigeon said the report notation was a mistake.

The money was part of a complicated series of transactions connected with the 2007 county executive campaign of former West Seneca Supervisor Paul T. Clark, which Sacha probed as an assistant district attorney. Clark later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor election law violation.

Pigeon earlier this year acknowledged problems with the campaign reports signed by Kristy L. Mazurek, treasurer of the Progressive Caucus. He also emphasized that the Progressive Caucus filed amended reports with the Board of Elections that corrected previous mistakes and satisfied all legal obligations.

Mazurek, meanwhile, was not among those whose homes were searched last Thursday by agents of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the FBI, and State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Search warrants were also executed at the homes of Steven M. Casey, former Buffalo deputy mayor and longtime Pigeon associate, and Christopher M. Grant, Casey’s business associate and chief of staff to Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence.

News Staff Reporter Susan Schulman contributed to this report. email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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