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New Senate leader also raised much more campaign money

ALBANY – The Senate’s top Republican, during last year’s off-election period, saw donations to his re-election campaign jump in the months after he was welcomed to Albany’s exclusive three-men-in-a-room club.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan over the weekend reported raising $292,000 in a previous six-month period ending in mid-January. It represented a 138 percent increase last January’s disclosure report with the state elections period that also cover six months’ worth of donations.

The increase was solid for Flanagan and shows again how money follows power in Albany.

Still, Flanagan’s increase in camapign fund-raising was not nearly as hefty an increase as the new Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie, who raised five times more money in this reporting period than before he became speaker.

Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, became Speaker last February following the arrest on corruption charges of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican, became Senate leader last May following the arrest on corruption charges of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The Buffalo News previously reported on Heastie’s fundraising activities, though not on Flanagan’s because his campaign finance disclosure report was not available by Friday evening.

As always with campaign reports, there are some nuances. The new reporting period covers an otherwise inactive period. There were no elections for lawmakers last November. Donations were lumped together on one report the candidates filed over the past several days with the state Board of Elections. The mid-July 2015 through mid-January 2016 compares with the same period a year earlier – before both men were legislative leaders – and included four total campaign filings because 2014 was an election year for Flanagan and Heastie.

The most recent filing covering the past six months shows Flanagan’s $292,000 is below the $298,000 that Heastie raised during the same time period.

At $723,000, Flanagan’s campaign bank balance is fatter than the $264,000 in Heastie’s account. Both men also have ultimate control over their umbrella campaign committees that helps new or existing Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans in challenging races. The Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee last Friday reported raising $590,000 the past six months, while the Senate Republicans committee brought in $480,000.

Flanagan got campaign donations from a billionaire hedge fund executive, Sprint, Wal-Mart, real estate and alcohol industry interests, funeral homes, lobbyists who give to both parties, health care providers, gambling interests and $1,5000 from Michael Dowling, who served as top advisor in the administration of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo and is today a Long Island hospital executive.