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Democrats call out Richards campaign
by Sean Carroll
Rochester, N.Y. -- Members of the faith community and elected leaders gathered Tuesday morning at Monroe County Democratic Headquarters to reaffirm their support for Mayoral Candidate Lovely Warren.
Party Chairman Joseph Morelle also called for transparency and an investigation into the Independence Party of Monroe Countys campaign to re-elect Mayor Tom Richards.
"It would bend the law on its ear to suggest that you intentionally wait until a deadline is passed and then do all your fundraising on behalf of that candidate, what kind of law would anticipate that? It's not designed that way, said Morelle of the Independence Partys lack of campaign finance filings thus far in this campaign. I'm suggesting they're in violation of New York State Election Law.
Morelle said Democrats felt compelled to call this press conference after expensive mailings were sent out in the last few days by this re-elect Tom Richards campaign. One mailer in particular specifically urged Democrats to vote for Richards and Morelle said his party wants everyone to know there is only one Democratic candidate next week.
The call for transparency in campaign finance filings is rooted in the Independence Party of Monroe Countys failure to report any financial disclosures during this election cycle. The last cut-off date for the most recent filing was October 21st, the same day the Independence Party announced its effort to re-elect Richards.
The New York State Board of Elections tells 13WHAM News that the next filing for candidate campaigns is due on December 2 and would include all financial transactions through November 28th. A spokesman explained that if a complaint was filed and if it was investigated any suspected violation of law would be referred to the Albany County District Attorneys Office. However, if its a compliance issue and the party or campaign comes into compliance in short order the investigations usually do not result in any punishment or prosecution.
Today I'm calling on them to do it, to make sure voters in Rochester know who's doing this who is behind it, it goes to the very heart of why we have campaign finance disclosure laws, said Morelle. "Clearly they're spending a fair amount of money and so voters need to know who is supporting them financially.
The campaigns website, www.turnoutfortom.com, is routinely updated and now includes press releases and endorsement letters from some public figures. New campaign lawn signs are now seen in parts of the city, the mailings continue, and at least some press releases are delivered to email inboxes with the sender listed as Tom Richards.
A campaign spokesman, Thomas Cray, finally contacted 13WHAM News back on Tuesday afternoon to explain that the finances are being handled exclusively by the Independence Party of Monroe County and he could not comment on those details.
Independence Party Chairman Steve Corryn has yet to return repeated calls that 13WHAM News has placed since October 21st.
"I think the Mayor is in a very difficult place, said Democratic candidate and City Council President Lovely Warren. He has employees and people that care about him and he also has his family and he's been through a tough time, and so I just think that people need to be supportive of his decision and his decision was to support me.
Richards endorsed Lovely Warren on September 17th when he formally ended his campaign. He reiterated that endorsement during a peculiar press conference last week where he addressed this re-election campaign that had surfaced, reportedly without his blessing.
At that press conference Mayor Richards refused to denounce the campaign and refused to say whether he would serve if he was elected next week. 13WHAM News attempted to ask Richards about the campaign using his name and image on websites, emails, and campaign mailings and the Mayor abruptly responded before turning and waving goodbye to reporters who gathered and walking away.
"Nothing is coming from me, Richards said. My name is in the public that I can't deal with. I haven't said anything nor have I done anything else. When I met with you last time I told you I was through talking about it and believe it or not I mean it. I know you guys aren't used to that but it's really true, so see ya!