Helicopter Money Not in Play
Financial disclosures for East Hampton Town races that will be decided this Election Day show similar bottom lines between the Democratic and Republican fund-raising committees and candidates and very little heat.
With the supervisor position and two town board seats to be decided, there is a sharp contrast to two years ago, when hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies associated with East Hampton Airport flowed to the Republican side.
In 2017 so far, Democrats took in just over $103,000. The Republicans showed income of slightly more than $95,000. The figures come from disclosures filed with the New York State Board of Elections since the beginning of the year. They reflect activity through Oct. 2. Election Day is Nov. 7.
In terms of the number of individual donors and corporate contributors, the Democrats held a considerable lead this week, with 191. The Republicans had 75 donors, who provided an average of $993. The average Democratic contributor gave $454.
The only spending activity that can be directly tied to the airport has come from the Quiet Skies Coalition, which has advocated for strict noise control and is more sympathetic to the Democrats. This month, it began running advertisements blasting the Republicans for accepting the massive contributions in 2015.
Quiet Skies’ political action committee has not filed any required disclosures with the state since July, recently missing an Oct. 6 deadline. The town Republican committee missed the Oct. 6 deadline as well, but later filed its report.
Kathleen Cunningham, the Quiet Skies director, said on Monday that about $5,000 had come in the preceding several days and that the committee’s treasurer, Pat Trunzo, would get a report to the board of elections as soon as possible. She said that none of the contributions had arrived before the Oct. 2 cut-off date for that disclosure period.
The East Hampton Leadership Council, which raised more than $280,000 from out-of-town helicopter companies and their surrogates for the Republicans the last time that the town board majority was in play, has not filed a report this cycle. In all, the Republican committee and its supporting political action committees netted about $480,000 in 2015 from airport interests, Ms. Cunningham said.
What a difference a year makes. In this election cycle, donations to the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, the main fund-raising entity for its candidates, picked up modestly as summer turned to fall, with about $61,000 coming in from a total of 10 contributors.
Even without the corporate donations of two years ago, the top of the Republican ticket has staked out a pro-airport position in its own advertisements and public statements.
The most notable sums going into the Republican committee’s bank accounts were $20,000 from Howard G. Phanstiel, a former health insurance executive with several properties on Miankoma Lane in Amagansett, and just under $25,000 from GNYG L.L.C., an anonymous Delaware-registered company with a mailing address of 1211 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
Sabin Metals of East Hampton gave $5,000, as did David S. Mack and Edward S. Pantzer, perennial contributors to the G.O.P.
Len Bernard, the East Hampton Town budget director, gave $125 to the Republican committee. He also made contributions to several of the Democratic candidates.
The Republican committee ended the filing period with just under $38,000 on hand, it said.
Campaign 2017, a Democratic fund-raising arm, had a quiet few weeks on the income side following a frenzied primary period, taking in $750 from three donors. It reported $20,000 on hand, after expenses of about $13,000.
Katharine Rayner of East Hampton was the Democrats’ single largest contributor, providing $11,000. She was followed by John Hall’s $10,000. State Assemblyman Fred. W. Thiele Jr. gave $500 to Campaign 2017. David Kelley, a former U.S. attorney and a brother of Christopher Kelley, the East Hampton Democrats’ campaign committee chairman, gave $5,000.
The East Hampton Independence Party has not filed any disclosure reports since 2015.
The next campaign finance disclosures for the November election cover the period of Oct. 3 through Oct. 23 and are due with the board of elections by Oct. 27. In the 14-day countdown to Election Day any contribution over $1,000 must be reported to the State Board of Elections within 24 hours.