Amsterdam mayoral candidate to return excess corporate donation

Amsterdam mayoral candidate Joseph Emanuele III will return part of a $5,000 campaign donation after

Amsterdam mayoral candidate Joseph Emanuele III will return part of a $5,000 campaign donation after learning it exceeds the limit for corporate donations set for the upcoming primary election.

Emanuele, a former city mayor and alderman and the current Montgomery County Republican Party chairman, is one of nine candidates vying for a spot on the November ballot in the city.

He faces William D. Wills, currently the 4th Ward alderman, in the Sept. 13 primary for the Conservative Party line on the mayoral ballot. Wills will also face off with incumbent Mayor Ann Thane, a Democrat, on primary day for the Democratic line on the November ballot.

Several candidates submitted campaign finance details to the state Board of Elections by the Aug. 12 deadline as part of the 32-day pre-primary financial disclosure report, including Emanuele.

His disclosure tallied the receipt of $11,468 in contributions from firms including Cushing Stone Co., River Ridge Living Center, Casale Public Affairs and Cranesville Block Co., each of whom donated $100 to his campaign.

But the donation of $5,000 from CCS Telecom of Amsterdam exceeds the limit from an individual corporation by $3,000 — the limit is $1,000 for a primary and $1,000 for the general election — so $3,000 of that money will have to be returned.

CCS Telecom, a wireless telecommunications and consulting company, is owned by city resident Christopher C. Sapia, according to a state Department of State database.

Sapia, Emanuele said, has been a friend of his for more than 30 years.

“I was very, very encouraged and surprised at the amount and it really showed his commitment to my campaign and my candidacy,” Emanuele said Monday.

Sapia could not be reached for comment for his story.

Montgomery County Republican Election Commissioner Terrance Smith last week said the office was deferring to the state’s campaign donation limits and said he believed that limit to be $5,000.

But Smith said Monday it’s now his understanding that the state Board of Elections has determined the limit is $1,000 for a primary and $1,000 for a general election for a total of $2,000 from a single corporate donor.

The county Board of Elections, Smith said, has not played a role in the issue surrounding Emanuele’s receipt of a $5,000 donation.

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin on Monday said the state multiplies .05 by the number of registered voters in the party of a candidate to determine the limit of campaign donations to that candidate.

In the case of the city of Amsterdam, that would mean multiplying .05 by 2,777 — the number of registered Republicans in the city — yielding a donation limit of $138.85. But Smith said when the formula calculates a donation limit less than $1,000, the limit is set at $1,000, to the best of his knowledge.

Montgomery County Democratic Chairwoman Bethany Schumann-McGhee said in an email Monday the mistake demonstrates a poor grasp of election law on the part of Republicans.

“It is the legal duty of candidates and their treasurers to know the campaign finance laws, and to be sure that they abide by them,” she said.

“It’s surprising and unfortunate that Mr. Emanuele, who has run for and held a number of public offices, and is the head of the Republican Party, chose not to make himself aware of state law in relation to his campaign,” Schumann-McGhee said in the statement.

Emanuele said he doesn’t see the issue as a major problem.

“We’re adjusting to that and we’re going to keep moving forward,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply