FULTON – Fulton City Democratic Chair Jim Rice has filed a complaint with the enforcement division of the NY State Board of Elections in Albany alleging Pathfinder Bank’s contributions to mayoral candidate Deana Michaels, a Pathfinder Bank manager, and the Oswego County Republican Committee were illegal.
“The law is clear. corporations are not allowed to contribute more than $5,000 all together to candidates, committees and PACs in a calendar year,” Rice said. “Pathfinder reached its legal aggregate contribution limit on February 26, 2019, thereby making all other contributions after that date including contributions to Deana Michaels and the Oswego County Republican Committee illegal.”
(see pages 40-41 New York State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Handbook”
Rice also said according to financial filings with the State Board of Elections, Pathfinder gave the Oswego County Republican Committee $2,500 which in turned transferred $2,600 to the Michaels campaign.
“Pathfinder’s involvement in the Fulton mayor’s race is unprecedented, inappropriate and I believe it violates the spirit and letter of campaign finance law,” said Rice. “Deana Michaels and the Oswego County Republican Committee should return those illegal contributions from Pathfinder Bank immediately.”
Pathfinder Bank President and CEO Thomas Schneider said the bank is aware of the overpayment made in the calendar year and is researching that further. He also said they are aware of laws and regulations that apply to them.
“Any other claims are baseless and without merit. We’ve been supportive of quality civic leadership without regard of party affiliation for 20 years in this position,” Schneider said.
In response to Rice’s complaint, Michaels claimed both she and her committee have followed the law and have made no violations.
“I am not distracted from the important issues facing Fulton such as drugs and crime, failing infrastructure and a need to stimulate the economy,” Michaels said. “As I continue my campaign I will focus on the issues that matter most to our community. I will always put Fulton first.”
Oswego County Republican Committee Chair Fred Beardsley said while he cannot speak for Pathfinder Bank, he is sure if a mistake was made, it was just a mistake and the State Board of Elections will straighten it out.
“I expected some sort of character attack or intimidation since the beginning of this campaign,” Beardsley said. “I think it’s a publicity stunt.”