State Senate Candidate and Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs is coming under intense criticism for his strong connection to L.P. Ciminelli executives who are currently the subject of public corruption charges by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY Preet Bharara. The executives subject to the investigation are Louis Ciminelli, Kevin Schuler and Michael Laipple.
Through tens of thousands of dollars in political donations, L.P. Ciminelli and Ciminelli family members have both directly and indirectly financed Chris Jacobs’ campaigns for over a decade. This has come with the help of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and Political Action Committees organized and affiliated with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. It should be emphasized that Kevin Schuler, an executive of L.P. Ciminelli, who was also charged in the investigation, was previously the government affairs lobbyist for the Partnership. L.P. Ciminelli also currently holds a seat on the board of directors of the Partnership.
Jacobs has a long history with Ciminelli going back to his days on the Buffalo Public School Board. In his time in that role Jacobs served on the joint-construction committee overseeing the $1.4 billion construction project in which L.P. Ciminelli was the lead developer. This project has come under intense scrutiny by the Buffalo Public School Board and New York State Comptroller’s Office for tens of millions of dollars that have gone unaccounted for. School Board Member Carl Paladino even recently demanded an audit to discover how much Ciminelli was paid in connection with the billion dollar schools construction project—questioning $28 million used for the project listed as “incidental costs” along $41 million that was unaccounted for. Ciminelli is reported to have made a nearly 29% profit off of the $1.4 billion-dollar project.
Ending public corruption in Albany has been one of the central themes in the 2016 campaign season and the race for New York State Senate in the 60th district is no exception. In a recent television commercial, Chris Jacobs has called to end corruption. Ironically enough, Jacobs is now at the center of what is becoming a tangled web of L.P. Ciminelli’s public corruption. As reported by the New York Times, Ciminelli is being charged with “two overlapping criminal schemes involving bribery, corruption and fraud in the award of hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts and other official state benefits.” The public corruption charges stem from L.P. Ciminelli’s role as a contractor for the Buffalo Billion project.
“What shouldn’t be lost in this web of public corruption, is that the same candidate plastering Western New York with commercials calling for an end to corruption, has been financed by the same men who are now facing charges in one of Western New York’s largest public corruption schemes,” commented Matt Tighe, campaign manager for Amber Small’s Senate Campaign. “That’s exactly what is wrong with this system and why we need comprehensive reform,” he added.