The mayor’s campaign committee is at rock bottom, according to its own accounts. Brown’s debts are three times his cash.
Mayor Byron Brown’s campaign committee owes the vendors more than $185,000 for goods and services they provided when he was re-elected last year.
This is according to the latest document tabled by the committee with the State Board of Electionswhich covers all financial activities between January 15 and July 11.
Brown for Buffalo owes more than three times more than it has cash, according to this report. He owes more than four times what the mayor said he collected in the past six months.
The mayor’s campaign committee lists the debts as “outstanding debts/loans”, but most appear to be unpaid bills. Under state law, any debt not repaid on Election Day — whether formally negotiated as a loan or not — becomes a gift.
In the case of the four companies that owed the most, those debts converted into donations exceed state limits on campaign contributions.
Largest debts, in descending order:
- Fourth idea, $66,143: According to Brown for Buffalo’s July filing, the downtown Buffalo ad agency has four open invoices totaling nearly $80,000. Brown’s campaign made partial payments on two of them.
- The law firm of Bryan Sells, $38,925: The Atlanta, Georgia firm represented Brown in his unsuccessful efforts to get his name on the general election ballot. Brown’s campaign paid the company $14,255 before Election Day. This is the balance due, according to the last deposit.
- AB Data, $29,750: The Milwaukee data company’s managing partner has neither confirmed nor denied the debt, but the Brown campaign reports three invoices totaling $35,000, with partial payment.
- Press Partners: $21,126: The Kenmore Avenue firm, a favorite of political campaigns, billed two bills for printing services.
In last year’s mayoral race, the limit for an individual donation to a candidate was about $7,800 for the general election and $5,300 for the primary, totaling $13,100. throughout the electoral cycle.
Corporations are limited to a total of $5,000 in donations to contestants across the state.
In an email to the Investigative Post on Monday, Michael DeGeorge, the mayor’s spokesman, acknowledged the debt, while ignoring specific issues, including possible violations of campaign finance law.
“Brown for Buffalo has paid a number of vendors to date and expects to settle the remaining balances by the fall,” DeGeorge wrote.
Indeed, Brown for Buffalo has reduced some of its debts, having made partial payments to three of the four most indebted suppliers. Some smaller vendors who owed money in January – for example event production company Indigo Productions, campaign consultant and mayor’s staffer Max Medwin and Burkey’s Sportswear – have been paid.
Two businesses that were listed in the mayor’s January filing as money owed — Mustachio’s Pizza ($357) and Kevin’s Catering ($1,080) — are listed in the most recent filing as having forgiven what was owed to them.
One issue DeGeorge chose not to address was $8,908 owed to Awards by Walsh’s, a Cohoes company just north of Albany. The company sells branded t-shirts, tote bags, pens, and more. – articles that the campaigns like to circulate.
Investigative Post asked DeGeorge if Awards by Walsh’s made the stamps the Brown campaign gave out to voters to “inscribe” the mayor’s name. He ignored the question. An email to the company’s president went unanswered, as did emails to Fourth Idea and Partners Press.
Between January and July, Brown for Buffalo raised $45,654. The main donors are architect and developer Steve Carmina ($5,000), restaurateur Russell Salvatore ($5,000), state Republican Party fundraiser Jeffrey Williams ($3,500) and owner of the engineering/construction firm John DiDonato ($3,500).
The committee spent $55,646. The largest expense, aside from paying off debts, was for fundraising – nearly $24,000.
The committee had $54,425 in the bank as of July 12. His outstanding debt is $185,174.
Last year’s election cycle was a tough one for Brown’s campaign finance team.
last august, an official complaint was filed with the state Board of Elections, alleging Brown for Buffalo accepted contributions in excess of legal limits and failed to identify LLC owners who donated to the campaign, among other things violations of electoral law.
In February, at the request of the Election Commission’s Enforcement Division, Brown for Buffalo amended several previous filings to address shortcomings.
Additionally, Brown for Buffalo refunded $9,389 to contributors who gave more than was legally allowed, according to a letter the Enforcement Division sent the plaintiff and paid $5,574 “for previously unreported billed expenses.”
The mayor’s committee received no sanctions for the violations.