Syracuse mayor apologizes, candidates return funds amid political scandal

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner responds to campaign finance controversy / Courtesy: Jim Kenyon

Four local candidates entwined in a political controversy have decided to return money to the State Democratic Committee. It comes as Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner today responded to allegations that her political action committee violated campaign laws by funneling money to specific candidates.

Mayor Miner denies doing anything illegal or inappropriate. She also denies that the candidates TM decision to return the money is an acknowledgment of illegality.

In a news conference Monday morning, Miner apologized to the candidates for any role she played in the controversy. I have hurt them, and for that I am truly sorry, Miner said. My actions have cast a cloud over the candidates and undercut their ability to talk about the issues.

It comes just days after Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey called on the candidates to return campaign contributions which he calls tainted political money.

We first told you about the scandal on on Friday. Dadey filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Elections Friday, seeking an investigation into alleged violations of campaign finance law.

The controversy surrounds Mayor Stephanie Miner TMs Political Action Committee, Promise PAC. The call for an investigation stems from an article in the Syracuse Post Standard which detailed how Promise PAC contributed $45,000 last month to the State Democratic Committee. Weeks after the donation, the Democratic Committee provided $33,000 to four local candidates, including Democrat Gwyn Mannion, who is running for Onondaga County Legislature. Dadey has dubbed the controversy Manniongate because Mannion is the daughter-in-law of Miner TMs husband.

The campaign funds were also given to common council candidates Bob Dougherty and Helen Hudson as well as Marty Masterpole who is running for city auditor.

The candidates now plan to return the money in excess of what they normally would have gotten through the PAC.

Election law restricts the amount of money that individuals and organizations can contribute to political candidates, but such restrictions do not apply to political parties.

Mayor Miner-Mannion's "Promise PAC" is trying to buy this election by circumventing the campaign finance law that has been put in place to show transparency, Dadey said. It's disturbing enough that she allegedly directed funneled money to her husband's daughter-in-law's campaign through the State Committee, but sending money to the candidate who is her personal choice for City Auditor dumbfounds me."

Mayor Miner denies any wrongdoing, calling it a smear campaign. She revealed to CNY Central TMs Jim Kenyon that she consulted an attorney prior to donating the money to the State Democratic Committee. She has not heard back from the State Board of Elections and does not expect to hear from them.

Immediately after Miner TMs news conference, Chairman Dadey held his own news conference outside of city hall, saying they will press ahead with their complaint to the State Board of Elections for an official investigation. Dadey compared Miner TMs actions to a bank robber returning money in order to avoid responsibility.

What do you think about the controversy? Will it affect the way you vote tomorrow? Should there be an investigation or is this a smear campaign? Leave your thoughts below.