Niagara Gazette — Elected and political leaders on both sides of the aisle in Niagara County have been receiving campaign donations from the Niagara Falls election services firm, NTS Data Services, for many years.
The practice is not inappropriate or illegal, according to officials with the New York State Board of Elections.
Locally, candidates and party chairmen say they don’t have a problem with it either, noting again and again that NTS has always provided quality service to the Niagara County Board of Elections. Noting as well that they do not believe the firm’s donations to their campaigns pose any issue where local elections are concerned.
“I never had a problem with the service they provide to the county,” said Niagara County Legislator and Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls. “They always gave us good service.”
Records on file with the New York State Board of Elections show that’s not all NTS has given county officials.
Financial disclosure forms show the company has donated a total of $49,698 to various candidates and committees in Niagara and Erie counties since Jan. 1, 2006.
Records show the Niagara County Democratic Committee receiving $13,000 from the company since that date, including donations of $1,500 each in 2006 and 2007 and five years of donations of $2,000 apiece from 2008 through 2012.
Similarly, NYS Board of Elections filings indicate that the Niagara County Republican Committee has received $9,500 from NTS Data Corp. since 2007, including a $1,500 donation that year and donations of $2,000 each subsequent year through 2011.
Virtuoso, whose campaign received a $200 donation from NTS in May of 2007, said the situation is not unlike other instances where firms doing business with the county donate money to elected officials. He noted that engineering companies and other businesses frequently donate to campaigns at all levels of government.
“That’s just the nature of the business,” he said. “I don’t think you are ever going to change that.”