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Monday, May 12, 2014

ALBANY — An online magazine geared towards state politics published a story Sunday focusing primarily on the campaign spending of state Sen. George Maziarz between 2008 and 2013.

The City & State article, based on documents obtained by the new defunct Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, states that Maziarz, R-Newfane, spent more than $140,000 of campaign funds over the six-year period without specifying what the money was spent on — more than any other member of the state Senate or Assembly, as well as $67,000 of charges and expenditures to Chase and Chase Card Services,” listed as "office" expenses.

Maziarz told East Niagara Post this afternoon that "the Moreland Commission never asked me for any information, made any inquiries to my office or raised any issue with my campaign.  We have followed all campaign laws, reported all expenditures and have always been very transparent."

He also said "My campaign activities involve a lot of community support and grassroots activity.  We support a host of local not for profit events with gift baskets, journal ads, gift cards, purchase of tables, etc.  These are all small dollars hence they have not been itemized.  Whether it’s the United Way, local hospitals and fire companies or some other worthy community event, our campaign committee makes these kinds of donations on a regular basis."

In addition, the Commission found that Maziarz had, over the course of six years, paid $39,000 to a company called MEM Enterprises, based at the address of Maziarz' brother Marvin Maziarz.

To that, the state Senator said, "like other people who run for office, I pay consultants for their services.  One consultant is my brother Marvin.  He has instituted and run the grassroots portion of my campaign for years, including event coverage, lawn signs, volunteer coordination and more.  Again, this has always been clearly reported and is a legitimate campaign expense."

Many state lawmakers regarded the Moreland Commission as a "witch hunt," and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in late March that he was shutting it down. The head of the commission, Makau Mutua, had said earlier this month, however, that the Commission had unearthed potential criminality by 10 to 12 state lawmakers — without naming who those lawmakers were.

Other lawmakers highlighted in the City & State article about undisclosed (or unitemized) spending include fellow Republicans, state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, state Sen. Greg Ball, and state Sen. John Bonacic; as well as Democrats, state Sen. John Sampson, state Sen. Rubén Díaz, Sr., and Assemblyman Carl Heastie. State Sen. Diane Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, was also featured.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY, said "Although technically legal, unreported and un-itemized expenses suggest that lawmakers have something to hide. The campaign finance laws governing 'personal use' run contrary to the spirit of a transparent democracy, which lawmakers can quickly correct by disclosing a detailed list of their campaign expenses. Common Cause/NY urges the lawmakers under investigation by the former Moreland Commission to do the right thing by their constituents and offer a full accounting of the facts."

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