The Monroe County District Attorney’s office is looking into accusations that Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s campaign used her political action committee to circumnavigate state campaign finance rules, a source confirms.
Under state law, a PAC can raise and spend money on a candidate, but only if the two don’t coordinate.
"They can solicit votes for the candidate. They can advertise for the candidate,” explained Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause NY. “They can do phone calls or canvassing. What they can't do is do that with the campaign for the candidate.”
Several media outlets, including the Democrat & Chronicle, previously reported that vendors used by the Warren for a Stronger Rochester PAC and Friends of Lovely Warren were receiving subpoenas.
Several vendors said Monday they would not comment on any court proceedings. Lerner said just because Warren created the PAC does not necessarily imply guilt.
"It's a timing question," Lerner said. "It's a responsibility question. The fact that an organization was started by one person or another doesn't immediately garner a conclusion of coordination but it certainly raises more possibilities than an organization that is truly formed at arm’s length."
Warren's 2017 primary opponents, Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard, both filed formal election complaints regarding the PAC. Among the most high profile problems, it transferred $30,000 to the official committee in what Warren called a PayPal error.
The district attorney said it cannot confirm any pending investigation and it's unclear how it got in front of her at this point.
Warren won reelection, despite her opponents urging for swift action.