Common Cause/NY Analysis Looks at Pro-Fracking Contributions in Southern Tier

Common Cause NY: DeFrancisco, Nozzolio among top recipients of pro-fracking contributions

The Citizen

Robert Harding

July 22, 2013

Two state legislators representing Cayuga County received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from businesses and groups supporting natural gas drilling in New York, according to a report released Monday by a leading good government group.

The Common Cause NY report found state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, received $68,751.40 from pro-natural gas drilling groups during a six-year period from Jan. 2007 to March 2013. State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, received $46,575 during that same period.

The top recipient of campaign contributions from the pro-drilling groups was state Sen. Tom Libous, a Southern Tier Republican, who received $353,205. Among the top state legislators receiving contributions from pro-natural gas drilling groups, Nozzolio was ranked seventh and DeFrancisco was 17th.

Overall, the report found business organizations and other groups supporting natural gas drilling in New York contributed more than $14 million to local and state elected officials and political parties in the six-year period.

“Powerful businesses and industries which stand to benefit from fracking use campaign contributions to gain influence with their local lawmakers, candidates and party organizations,” Common Cause NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said Monday. “We see a wide spectrum of fracking-related interests taking full advantage of New York’s lax campaign finance laws in the hope of a future payday if fracking is permitted.”

The Fair Elections for New York campaign, which advocated for campaign finance reform during the 2013 legislative session, wants the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption formed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look into the contributions.

“This is precisely why Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman created this Moreland Commission: to investigate the abuse of the campaign finance system by special interests who are looking to influence public policy with their deep pockets,” the group said in a statement. “The Fair Elections for New York campaign is calling for the Moreland Commission to use their sweeping powers to subpoena all relevant information related to these campaign contributions, and these special interests and members of the legislature should have to testify under oath about the decisions they have made as public servants, and whether these contributions influenced those decisions.”

Most of the money given by the pro-natural gas drilling interests went to members of the state Senate. While most are Republican members, some Democrats are on the list. State Sen. David Valesky, an Oneida Democrat and member of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, ranks fifth on the list. He received $79,075.

Rochester-area Democrat and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle received $59,075 to lead members of the Assembly. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver received $58,069.20, according to the analysis.

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