GOP mega-donor gave Basile $2,500 in April

A Republican mega-donor from Illinois who reportedly has poured millions into this year’s congressional races and supported Roy Moore’s Senate campaign last year also opened his checkbook for a Republican state Senate candidate in the Hudson Valley.

Richard Uihlein, whose emerging prominence as a GOP financier was chronicled in Politico in March, donated $2,500 in April to the campaign of Tom Basile, the Republican Stony Point councilman running for the Senate seat Bill Larkin is vacating. No other state candidates in New York have received Uihlein’s largesse, although at least one House member – Claudia Tenney – got donations from him this election cycle, according to state and federal campaign finance records.

Assemblyman James Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat competing with Basile for the 39th Senate District seat, criticized Basile this week for taking money from someone who gave $100,000 last year to a Super PAC supporting Moore, the former Alabama judge who lost his race for a U.S. Senate seat in December. Moore’s campaign cratered at the end after several women stepped forward to accuse him of making passes at them or molesting them when he was an adult prosecutor and they were in their teens.

Skoufis used that donation to return fire at Basile, who accused Skoufis of grandstanding a week earlier for holding a rally in support of the Child Victims Act, a bill to benefit victims of childhood sexual abuse that Senate Republicans have blocked.

“The fact that Tom Basile has attacked Republicans, Democrats and advocates alike for working together to pass the Child Victims Act – all while taking money from child molester Roy Moore’s mega-donor – is politics at its worst,” Skoufis said in a campaign statement. “I support those calling on Basile to return this dirty, disgusting money.”

Gary Greenberg, an Child Victims Act advocate who held the rally with Skoufis and similar events with Democratic Senate candidates Pramilla Malick and Pat Strong in other districts, said in a statement that Basile “should have never taken money from such a morally corrupt out-of-state billionaire, and now that he’s been exposed, should return it immediately.”

Senate Republicans oppose the Child Victims Act because of a provision that would grant all past abuse victims one year to sue their abusers and culpable institutions, a bill section the Catholic Church strongly opposes. Republicans have proposed instead to create a $300 million state fund to pay damages to victims, rather than allow them to go to court.

Basile’s campaign spokesman, Bob Driscoll, responded: “James Skoufis can’t know how offensive it is to accuse a parent like Tom Basile of somehow supporting evil against children. But we’ve come to expect this kind of behavior from his angry, divisive campaign.”

Driscoll accused Skoufis and Greenburg – who was sexually abused as a child – of using abuse victims as “political props,” defended the Republicans’ alternative to the Child Victims Act, and rebuked Skoufis for campaign funds he got for his first run in 2012 from the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee, controlled then by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – “a man who is going to jail for taking bribes, kickbacks and covering up sexual misconduct.” (Silver was accused of the last part, but that was not part of his federal corruption conviction.)

“Mr. Uihlein has backed over sixty candidates this fall because he supports lowering the tax burden, something everyone in our area can agree needs to happen,” Driscoll said.

Skoufis holds a wide lead over Basile in fundraising. Finance reports filed this week show the Democrat raised $65,000 in the last three weeks of August and had $288,000 on hand as of Aug. 31, while the Republican collected a single donation of $1,000 and had $107,000 in his coffers.

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