Congressional race for NY-19 already getting ugly

The fight for New York’s 19th Congressional District is already getting ugly.

The campaign for GOP contender John Faso says a “serious legal explanation ” is needed from fellow Republican contender Andrew Heaney after accusing him  of engaging in “underhanded politics” stemming from a super PAC.

Heaney and Faso are both competing to take over the district from Rep. Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel who says he won’t run again next year as he considers whether to run for statewide office in 2018.

Faso’s campaign, in a press release, questioned Heaney’s connection to a Washington D.C.-based super PAC, called “New York Jobs Council.”

According to a mid-year report filed with the Federal Election Commission documents, the super PAC has received $60,000 this year.

Super PACS are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money but they’re not allowed to communicate or coordinate with specific candidates.

But Faso’s campaign says the super PAC is completely funded by Heaney’s family.

FEC filings show that Heaney Energy Comp., Heaney’s company, gave the super PAC $10,000 in June, Skaggs Walsh, Heaney’s father’s heating oil company, gave $35,000. Submarine Rock LLC,  a company Heaney has used to contribute money to political campaigns in the past, gave over $5,000.

“Mr. Heaney seems to be engaged in a type of underhanded politics that even New Yorkers would find eye-opening,” said Bill O’Reilly, a Faso spokesman. “Forget ethics; how this is even close to legal is anybody’s guess. Maybe Mr. Heaney can explain.”

David Catalfamo, Heaney’s spokesman, said his boss hasn’t done anything wrong.

“Andrew has obviously contributed to the super PAC before he was a candidate,” Catalfamo. “He’s not involved in running the PAC in any way, shape or form.”

Catalfamo also took a shot at Faso, saying he’s a lobbyist who has run several PACs himself.

“He knows the rules, and it’s just sad that he has gone so negative in a campaign that has just started,” Catalfamo said.

Rob Cole, executive director of the New York Jobs Council, also denied any wrongdoing.

Cole also criticized Faso several times, calling him a lobbyist and pointing to a $550,000 fine that was given to Faso’s law firm, Manatt Phelps & Phillips, in 2010 after a settlement with the state Attorney General’s office over a pay-to-play probe. Faso was a lobbyist and partner at the firm but never admitted wrongdoing.

“We’ve done everything by the law,” Cole said. “There is no quid pro quo.”

Cole said his super PAC is aimed at electing a “commonsense Republican candidate” in the 19th Congressional District and though he’s met and spoke to Heaney before he said he hadn’t spoken to him “in a long time.” He said they haven’t chosen who they’ll support in the district yet, but have already know who they don’t support.

“We know Mr. Faso is not going to be our chosen candidate,” Cole said.

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