Niagara Gazette — Niagara Falls City Council candidate Vincent Sandonato has not raised any of his own campaign funds this year.
That’s because state and county Republican committees have handled his fundraising for him.
Sandonato, who is one of three candidates running on a Republican line in the seven-way general election, has not formed a campaign committee and does not intend to before the Nov. 5 general election. The county’s Republican committee has paid for lawn signs and palm cards while the New York Republican State Committee has picked up the tab for mailers in support of his campaign, he said.
“The county is the supporter,” Sandonato said. “The county Republicans are backing me.”
The former county legislator has filed paperwork with the county but not the state, all within the bounds of election law so long as he does not spend or raise more than $1,000.
The state committee has spent $9,800 on Sandonato’s campaign while the Niagara County Republican Committee has not filed any documents related to election season, according the state board of elections’ database.
Bill Gallagher, a spokesperson for the Niagara County Democratic Party, said Sandonato’s claims that he’s been running a “shoe-string” campaign were disingenuous.
“Sandonato has displayed the height of hypocrisy by using secondary funds for his campaign,” Gallagher said.
Sandonato, who has close ties to county and state Republican party leadership dating back to his time in the legislature, could represent a seat for Republicans in the heavily Democratic city, Gallagher said.
“The local leadership in Albany may have an interest in seeing him elected,” he said.
Gallagher said Sandonato’s use of committee funding allows him to run his campaign without being held to the same transparency requirements and scrutiny as his opponents.
“Sandonato is having a financed campaign, but he doesn’t have the accountability of having his own funds and his own campaign, in which case he would have to file with the state,” Gallagher said.