NIAGARA FALLS – Three contributions to the campaign of John G. Accardo, the Republican candidate for mayor of Niagara Falls, exceeded the limit set under state law, Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nicholas J. Forster said Wednesday.
The allegation appeared to be accurate, as one of the donors said a refund is coming, while another said his donation was supposed to be split between himself and his wife so it would be legal.
The general election limit for donations to a campaign for local office is 5 cents per active registered voter in the municipality, which works out to $1,260 for a citywide Niagara Falls race, Forster said.
But Accardo’s most recent disclosure form, the one due 11 days before the election, showed three contributions that exceeded the limit.
Friends of Joel A. Giambra, the campaign account of the former Erie County executive, gave the Accardo campaign $2,500 earlier this month, according to Accardo’s own disclosure form. Another $2,500 donation came from Buffalo attorney Peter A. Reese, and $1,500 was donated by National Vacuum Environmental Services Corp., a business on 47th Street in Niagara Falls.
Reese said his check was co-signed by his wife and was meant to be $1,250 from each of them. He said the Accardo campaign ought to correct its records.
Kathy Gregoire, of Hamburg, the Giambra committee’s treasurer, said she “was unaware that there was a $1,200 limit and that the rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We have been notified by the Accardo campaign that we will be receiving a refund.”
National Vacuum executives could not be reached to comment Wednesday night.
In a news release, Forster demanded that Accardo return the money. He said, “I am shocked but not surprised that John would accept these illegal contributions. He has run, oftentimes unsuccessfully, for many elections and should know the rules by now. Apparently his newfound alliance with disgraced former Sen. George Maziarz and his cronies has empowered John to show a total disregard for the laws of the State of New York.”
“They can say whatever they want,” Accardo said when reached by phone as he was entering a meeting late Wednesday afternoon. He said he would call back for further comment, but he didn’t.