Well, it looks like a burning question of mine has been answered, at least in part. I have been wondering for quite some time about where campaign contributions to the Bronx Republican County Committee go. There hasn’t been any true campaigning since County Leader Joseph “Jay” Savino’s pitiful run for the 34th State Senate seat in 2004. That campaign was indeed pitiful and a made a mockery of campaigns past and future.
It seems that the Bronx County Republican Housekeeping Account has become the “meal ticket” for County Leader Joseph J. Savino. Your campaign contributions hard at work!
There was a tease of a campaign in 2009 when Adolfo Carrion, Bronx Borough President was picked for a cabinet post by President Obama. His loss was our gain.
In any event, a special election was held to fill the vacancy. The Republicans ran Anthony Ribustello, a long time party member. The party gave the illusion of a campaign by putting posters in a few store fronts.
I saw no other indications of any true campaign activity. Maybe they held rallies or some other kind of outreach that I was not aware of, but I doubt it. A few posters around the neighborhood was enough.
True, Mr. Ribustello had a snowball’s chance in hell to win, but why not try. Show the people of the Bronx that the Republican Party has some pride. As always Savino and his cronies just sat on their fat cat asses and let it go.
Meanwhile, back to the subject at hand: large amounts of money spent on lunch and dinner. According to an article written by David Seifman of the NY Post Joseph J. Savino, Chairman of the Bronx County Republican Party spent a small fortune on meals in 2010 using funds from the Bronx Republican Housekeeping account. To quote Mr. Seifman, “The chairman of the Bronx Republican Party spent more than $8,300 on lunches and dinners last year — most of them outside The Bronx”.
In contrast, the Queens Republican Party spent just $1,477 on restaurant meals in 2010. The Queens Republican organization is larger then the Bronx GOP and unlike the Bronx organization the Queens Reps actually run viable campaigns and actually win once in a while.
It is not terribly disturbing that Savino uses the housekeeping account to pay for meals. The laws governing the use of a county organization’s housekeeping account are not very restrictive. Still, spending more then five times that of the Queens Republicans on food is disturbing. Savino claims that he is having lunches and dinners to network and expand the Bronx Republican Party. Hip! Hip! Hooray! The question is why the vast majority of these power lunches and dinners take place way up in Rockland County? If they are for the benefit of Bronx County why are you traveling thirty or forty miles away from home?
In the NY Post article Savino claims that going to towns in Rockland County such as Congers and New City are more convenient since his law office is now in White Plains. Is that the best you can come up with? You are still heading in the opposite direction from home and crossing a toll bridge.
And why not patronize some of the businesses in the area that you purport to represent.
Or are you heading towards home by crossing the Hudson River? Is that why you prefer to conduct Bronx Republican County business in Rockland County? Do you or any other high ranking members of the Bronx Republican County Committee live someplace other then the Bronx? Questions abound.
There are also some interesting entries into the Bronx GOP housekeeping account. According to an entry in the January 15, 2011 Periodic report an “un itemized” expense of $5,228.57was made to no one in particular. The entry just notes “office expense”. What office expense? There are other items listed as “office expense”, but they list an “explanation” such as phone or cablevision bills. These are quite understandable.
Having an “un itemized office expense” for over five thousand dollars is very disturbing for a political organization that does not have any political activities.
The housekeeping account is meant for just that, the day to day operations of the county organization. That is why you find normal items like rent, phone bills, cable, as well as expenses like get well flower arrangements. These are what any organization would need to spend to operate.
Charging off meals is also the norm. There are countless dinner and lunch meetings held in the normal course of business of a political organization, or any business for that matter. In the case of Mr. Savino, there are some ponderous questions.
First of all, the amount of money spent is questionable. As noted earlier, the Bronx County Republicans, aka Joseph Savino and friends, spent more then five times the amount of the Queens County Republicans.
The Queens republicans run regular campaigns with some positive results. It would make sense for the Queens Republicans to spend more as they get results.
The Bronx Republicans, as note many times, have not run a campaign in nearly seven years. Has the exorbitant spending on meals yielded any positive results? I think not.
A follow up article will be forthcoming once I have a chance to examine the Bronx Republican Campaign Committee filings at the Board of Elections office at 42 Broadway. There should be some real insight into where actual campaign contributions are spent.
The other and perhaps more telling fact is that the vast majority of these “networking dinners/lunches” take place on the other side of the Hudson River. Who is Mr. Savino trying to woo that he needs to be in Rockland County. How does it help the Bronx?
True, certain political allies may be found outside your own county, but this is absurd.
It seems to be a lot of money for steaks and cocktails. We will have to wait and see if this effort to expand the Bronx Republican organization bears any fruit, or if 2011 will be just anther year of Savino and Company living high on the hog while the Bronx burns.
I wonder if they can see the smoke off in the distance when they look out their living room windows.