WASHINGTON – Rep. Louise M. Slaughter died in March at the age of 88, but her legacy will continue in the next Congress, given that $148,000 she intended to use for her re-election went instead to dozens of other Democratic candidates and committees.
Since Slaughter's death, her campaign fund has contributed $72,000 to 32 Democratic congressional candidates, including two that are involved in heated races in Western New York.
Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray got $2,000 from Slaughter's campaign fund in his race against Rep. Chris Collins, a Clarence Republican, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
And Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan, who is challenging GOP Rep. Tom Reed of Corning, also got $2,000 from Slaughter.
In addition, Slaughter's campaign fund gave $76,000 to nine progressive political committees. The bulk of the money – $52,000 – went to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was established to help Democratic House members elect more like-minded lawmakers.
"The campaign is proud to support Democratic efforts to take back the House as a way to honor Louise’s work in Congress," said Liam Fitzsimmons, Slaughter's longtime chief of staff. "By supporting talented candidates across New York and the country, we hope to strengthen her legacy and further the ideals she fought so hard to advance."
Slaughter's campaign staff selected who will get the money in consultation with her family. It's part of a two-pronged effort: Another large share of Slaughter's campaign fund, which had $217,649 left as of Sept. 30, will go to charity.
First, though, Slaughter's campaign staff parceled out funds to Democrats who would aim to continue her legacy.
"Louise spent her career standing up for working people while blazing a path for future women leaders," Fitzsimmons said. "She did it with great integrity, compassion and grit."
Slaughter's donation came as good news to McMurray, who has said repeatedly that she was especially helpful to him in the earliest days of his campaign.
"We have deep respect for Congresswoman Slaughter and her work, and she made it clear to those closest to her that her wishes are that her committee funds be used to continue the work she did in life," said McMurray campaign spokeswoman Daniele de Groot. "We are honored to be a part of that legacy."
The Collins campaign did not respond when asked if it wanted to comment on Slaughter's posthumous giving.
Slaughter, a Democrat from Fairport who represented parts of Buffalo from 2003 through 2012, had a fraught relationship with Collins.
Slaughter complained repeatedly to congressional ethics investigators, the Securities and Exchange Commission and prosecutors about Collins' stock trades – and prosecutors in New York charged Collins with felony insider trading in August. Collins says he is innocent and will fight the charges.
Besides giving to McMurray and Mitrano, Slaughter's campaign donated to Democrats challenging incumbent House members in the Syracuse and Utica areas as well as the North Country, the Hudson Valley and Long Island.
Slaughter's campaign also donated money to several Democratic challengers involved in competitive races nationwide, many of them women.
At the same time, the Slaughter committee thanked her longtime friends and colleagues with parting gifts.
The Democratic assemblyman who is favored to win her old Rochester-area seat, Joe Morelle, got more money than any other candidate: $4,000.
The Slaughter committee also gave $2,000 to Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, $2,000 to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and $2,000 each to several other Democratic House members from New York and across the country.