Campaign Finance Deadline Missed

Democrats have edge in battle of enthusiasm

The main committee supporting East Hampton Town Republicans missed a Friday deadline to provide a required campaign finance report to New York State regulators.

According to the New York State Board of Elections, the East Hampton Town Republican Committee filed its last report in July. It was supposed to have provided an updated accounting of its income and spending at the end of last week.

Richard Gheradi, the Republican town committee treasurer, said that a computer problem had prevented him from uploading the report to the board of elections by the deadline and that he would do it by the end of the day on Tuesday. It finally popped up on the board of elections website yesterday.

From the reports that were available early in the week, the donation picture for 2017 indicated an imbalance in enthusiasm. Democratic supporters have out-contributed Republicans by a large margin as Election Day nears.

“People are generally happy with the direction of the town and the direction of the leadership,” Christopher Kelley, the Democratic campaign chairman, said.

Though the Republican committee’s filings could not be examined in detail yesterday, its contributions did not indicate activity from interests associated with East Hampton Airport, as had been the story in 2015, when about three-quarters of Republican fund-raising was from airport businesses and their backers.

Individually, Paul Giardina, one of the Republican Party’s candidates for East Hampton Town Board, made the deadline, delivering all of his necessary disclosure forms to the board of elections, as did Manny Vilar, the Republican supervisor candidate. 

Jerry Larsen, who is running as a Republican for town board, said that he had delivered his figures by the deadline. After several attempts to reach him and the board of elections, Mr. Larsen’s summary page disclosure appeared on the state website on Tuesday afternoon. The filing listed no contributions after his ill-fated Independency Party primary bid last month and a balance on hand of just under $7,500. 

Each of the Democratic committees and the party’s candidates met the Friday deadline.

In its July report, which gave an incomplete picture of how it is faring financially this close to the election, the Town Republican Committee listed just over $11,000 in contributions since the beginning of the year. By the same July filing date, the party’s Democratic counterparts had raised $22,000, according to a statement provided to the board of elections.

Mr. Kelley said that the Democrats had benefited from a September primary bid by Zachary Cohen, who had been passed over for a town board nomination. Mr. Cohen came in third behind the party’s choices, Jeffrey Bragman and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez in a hard-fought contest that well exceeded turnout expectations.

Mr. Kelley contrasted his party’s candidates with the Republicans’, whom he called lackluster.

He also said that a pent-up demand among Democrats to be more politically active after the election of Donald Trump as president was also helping drive excitement.

“Let’s compare experience,” Reg Cornelia, the Republican Committee’s chairman, said. “We have three candidates with extensive experience in managing large organizations. I think when it comes to credentials, I don’t see anyone who even comes close.” 

As for the president, Mr. Cornelia said, “Trump does offend some people, but I’m hoping that people will focus on the local issues.”

Like Mr. Cohen, one of the Republican town board candidates, Mr. Larsen, mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge, trying to wrest an Independence Party ballot spot from either Mr. Bragman or Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, the Dem­ocrats who had been cross-endorsed.

Though Mr. Larsen raised more than $13,500 during his primary run-up, his bid was invalidated after a successful court challenge from Democrats over a mistake on his paperwork. 

In an earlier report, Mr. Larsen said he spent $1,000 to hire Lona Rubenstein of Amagansett as a political consultant. He can use his remaining money in the general election.

Mr. Cohen’s failed primary attempt helped light a fire under Democratic donors, who collectively pumped in $90,000 in July, August, and September. That period was also in advance of the Democrats’ end-of-summer fund-raiser at the Neighborhood House in East Hampton.

Among those making contributions was the cookbook author and television personality Ina Garten, who has a house in East Hampton Village, who gave Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s campaign $1,000.

Len Bernard, the East Hampton Town budget officer and a former Republican town board member and supervisor candidate, donated $250 to Ms. Burke-Gonzalez and $375 to Peter Van Scoyoc’s supervisor-bid war chest. In the available filings, Mr. Bernard was not listed as directing any money to the Republican candidates.

The 60 donors who gave an average of $172 to Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s campaign fund during the primary were the most contributing to any single candidate. 

Mr. Giardina came in second in individual donors, with 57 of them giving an average donation of $194.

Eleven names appeared on Mr. Vilar’s forms, giving an average of $736. In his July disclosure, he listed $4,000 in donations from four members of the Kalisman family, who own property in the Georgica Association and were heirs to the Alfred Taubman commercial real estate empire.

Mr. Vilar reported $5,000 in payments to Ms. Rubenstein over a three-month period. He also spent money on Facebook advertisements, campaign literature, and radio spots.

Mr. Van Scoyoc listed contributions from nine donors, and Mr. Bragman from 15. 

The Democrats’ Campaign 2017 spent nearly $13,000 on print and radio ads, postage, graphic design, and other costs in the postprimary filing period.

Contribution limits put a cap on how much a candidate can accept from single donors and vary depending on township. In East Hampton, donors can give up to $1,000 to each candidate in both the general election and primary periods. New York State holds the total amount that any corporation can donate in a calendar year to $5,000.