Rochester, NY April 25, 2016-The COMIDA Board announced this week that they’re going to investigate the “leak” that led to the controversial attack by Republican Party Boss, Bill Reilich on the I-Square developers Mike and Wendy Nolan.
And let’s make it clear – they are not investigating why someone used COMIDA to punish a political opponent … they’re trying to find out who “leaked” the sin to the press. The real criminal here is Reilich, but as with most criminal activity in the Republican Party, it is the little guy who gets punished for wrongdoing while the leaders go free.
Gene Caccamise, an eight-year veteran of the Board and retired President of Bricklayers Local 3 is the IDA’s ethics chair. He will be heading up the inquiry.
The problem is, that Caccamise himself is under investigation by the FBI for suspicious miss-use of union members’ money while head of the Bricklayers. The issue was not reported at all locally, but Buffalo television station WGRZ and internet news sites like The Public have done major reporting on Caccamise’s potentially illegal campaign donations to Republicans in the Buffalo area … and his connections to Steve Pigeon. Pigeon, you will recall was instrumental in the Medley Center machinations of Scott Congel in Irondequoit – which cost taxpayers millions – and which then Irondequoit Supervisor Adam Bello squashed.
Campaign donations from labor unions are not new … and perfectly legal when they come from political action funds. Caccamise appears to have been playing fast and loose with the union treasury under the guise of what he calls “economic development”. Which means – donations to gain influence with politicians – all at the direction of Steve Pigeon, according to reports by WGRZ.
$25,000 worth of influence.
But that’s not all.
Caccamise is listed over and over again as a major sponsor of a variety of Republican political fundraising events in Monroe County and has close ties to Republican operative and adviser to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Arnold Rothschild. The donations include tens of thousands of dollars to former County Executive Maggie Brooks – who appointed him to the COMIDA Board in the first place.
Insiders say that pressure is being brought to bear on now County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to have Caccamise removed from the investigation – and maybe even the COMIDA Board itself. They call Caccamise’s actions part of the “Pay to Play” culture that pervades in County and City government. His questionable ethics in not excusing himself because he is under investigation by the FBI, connections to the local Republican Party, to the Medley Center fiasco, to Republican operative Arnold Rothschild and to political insider Steve Pigeon are perceived by many as too close for comfort – if not downright illegal.
But, If it sounds like pay-to-play politics to you, Caccamise disagrees. In one news report he says, "I'm not a politician. It has nothing to do with politics. It had nothing to do with anything." –- But it’s thousands and thousands of dollars worth of “nothing” apparently.
The fox is clearly guarding the hen house.
~ Sidney Reilly is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester. You can contact Mr. Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org