Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 4, 2013

Shining a light on council candidate's contributions


Niagara Gazette — Andrew Touma, a political newcomer who won a Democratic line on the general election ballot in a September primary, has raised $16,686 since beginning to campaign in June, with 36 of the 43 contributors giving less tan $500, $7,467 in total. Touma’s largest contributors include his cousin Craig Touma, a political ally of Mayor Paul Dyster, who gave him $760 while the Niagara Falls Fire Fighters political action committee gave him $1,250 and Merani Holdings LLC, the hotel company that owns the Four Points Sheraton on Buffalo Avenue and has a downtown hotel projects in the works, giving him $1,000. Touma has spent $7,900.

Russel Vesci, a Niagara Falls Water Board employee who is running on a Republican line, has raised $6,486 with only two of the 40 contributions exceeding $500. Vesci contributed $605 to his own campaign and there is an unitemized contribution of $1,170. Other notable contributions include a $250 gift from Niagara Falls Redevelopment, $250 from Local Laborers No. 91 and $250 from the city Republicans. Vesci has spent $4,891 on his campaign.

Charles Walker, the four-term incumbent and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center employee, has only filed two of the seven documents required by the state board of elections this year. Those documents show that Walker received $1,725 in contributions and had spent no money through July, according to the documents filed with the board of elections.

The campaign started the year with a balance of $1,200, bringing the total account balance to $2,925.

Walker received no donations in excess of $500. Jimmy Searight, the executive director of the New Jerusalem Reporting Center, gave the largest of the 26 reported contributions at $250.

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257

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