Campaign expenditures have emerged as an issue in the 23rd Congressional District race between incumbent Republican Tom Reed and Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano.
Senior Advisor for Tom Reed for Congress Matt Coker issued a statement on Aug. 5 that Mitrano “pocketed” campaign funds for her own personal use.
Citing public records published by the Federal Election Commission, Coker wrote that Mitrano paid herself $16,750 directly from her campaign fund for “rent.”
Mitrano, in an interview with TAPinto Greater Olean, responded to Coker’s charges, saying, “It’s a property I own, but it’s not the house where I live.”
Paying rent for the building in Ithaca, which she owns but where she does not reside, does not violate FEC rules, Mitrano said. She dedicates use of the Ithaca property to campaign business, such as staff meetings, press meetings and storage. She lives in Penn Yan.
FEC guidelines state, “The campaign may not pay for mortgage, rent or utilities for the personal residence of the candidate or the candidate’s family even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign.” Additionally, FEC regulations prohibit candidates from paying themselves from political donations before April 2, 2020.
Coker stated that Mitrano paid herself $14,250 of $16,750 "rent" payments before April 2.
“Tracy’s campaign reeks of self-interest and disregard for the law,” Coker said. “Tracy’s supporters can’t trust her with their donations, and voters can't trust Tracy in Congress.”
Mitrano said in the interview that salary and rent are “two separate things, and if in fact, you want to comment on that, I am not receiving a salary from the campaign nor did I in 2018."
And she added that she left a job that “pays more than Congress in order to run in this race.”
She emphasized, “There’s been no violation. So long as he wants to use this tactic, it wouldn’t hurt to point at some of his spending.”
And Mitrano claimed Reed uses money from corporate PACS and 35% of his funding is from individuals. Meanwhile, 93% of Mitrano’s funding is from individuals.
Mitrano also said Reed spends thousands of dollars in campaign funding on dinners, Christmas ornaments, wine and a donor retreat.
“Now he’s the one claiming that he has grassroot support he doesn’t,” Mitrano said. “My supporters can be fully satisfied to know that I have a place that only costs $500 to do campaign work.”
Further, Mitrano claimed Reed wanted to distract voters from the current issue her campaign has been discussing: waste dumping.
Mitrano and Leslie Danks Burke, the Democratic candidate for the New York State 58th Senate District, conducted press events Thursday morning at landfills in Chemung County and in Steuben County, calling attention to the fact that although fracking is banned in New York State, fracking waste from Pennsylvania gets dumped there.
Mitrano noted New York has banned fracking because the process releases toxic byproducts including radium and radon, along with the natural gas.
Waste management companies have five of these sites in the 23rd district because the state has allowed them permits, Mitrano said.
Mitrano stated Reed has given no objection to waste dumps because he gets money from oil and gas companies.
“Reed’s claim about Tracy's ‘rent’ expenditure being in violation of FEC rules is a weak and ridiculous smokescreen to try to inoculate his campaign from his own financial misdeeds,” Paula Younger, Mitrano’s campaign manager, said.
Reed’s campaign did not respond to TAPinto Greater Olean follow-up inquiries.
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