Carl Paladino

WNY Tea Party Activist Indicted For Voter Fraud

Western New York Tea Party activist Rus Thompson has been indicted by an Erie County Grand Jury. Thompson posted a photo of a letter he received from acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty on his Facebook page Monday.

He’s charged with voter fraud after sources said he moved from his Grand Island rental to Niagara Falls, and then voted in the November election with an affidavit ballot using his old address. The usually outspoken Thompson has been advised by his attorney not to speak publicly about the case but that hasn’t kept him off social media.

“The Grand Island republicans AND the Erie County republican leadership should feel proud of what they are doing to my family,” he wrote on Facebook just a few hours after he posted the letter.

Thompson is known in Western New York as one of former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s most loyal supporters. His friends say he’s being punished for his political views.

“(He) Went to his polling place to vote in the primary as he always does. He went there, he was told his name was not on the voter registration. He used an old address so he could vote where he always has and chooses to vote. He’s now being prosecuted for that in the felony posture. This statute is seldom if ever used, we believe there are four or five reported cases since Susan B. Anthony in the 1850s who was prosecuted under this very statute,” Thompson’s attorney, Thomas Eoannou, said after they appeared in court last month.

They rejected a plea deal for a felony disposition that would’ve carried a max sentence of four years in prison. According to the notice, the arraignment is scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. in State Supreme Court.

The District Attorney’s office said it’s prepared to go to trial.

Teen Who Challenged Paladino For School Board Is Arrested

Buffalo teen Austin Harig is getting to fully experience what it means to be a public person. No, Harig’s not an elected official.

He came just short of winning a seat on the Buffalo Public School board, but when you come within 100 votes of beating one of Buffalo’s most polarizing politicians and a former gubernatorial candidate, you get a lot of attention.

A month ago Harig was the darling of the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the anti-Carl Paladino contingent. He was a wide-eyed, idealistic David who nearly took down Goliath.

Even when Paladino said Harig was suspended from the school district he was running to represent, while he was campaigning, Harig seemed to come out okay. He suggested Paladino must have abused his power to know and share that information, and frankly a lot of people agreed.

Now, he’s back in the news again. Buffalo Police confirmed Austin Harig was charged with unlawfully dealing with a child and criminal nuisance early Wednesday morning.

Police say Harig was providing alcohol to three people under the age of 21 in his South Buffalo home. He’s also accused of letting them smoke marijuana there.

Give the 18-year-old credit, like when he was accused of being suspended, he was happy to get right in front of the camera and respond. He never mentioned drugs or alcohol in his story, but said he was letting a friend stay at his house and that the friend brought stolen property into it.

Would this be a story if Harig was a normal Buffalo teenager? Of course not, but that’s what he signed up for when he ran for office.

Paladino Calls Paul Ryan And His Trump Endorsement ‘Irrelevant’

Despite his endorsement of Donald Trump on Thursday, a boisterous Trump supporter didn’t back off of his criticism of House Speaker Paul Ryan.  Just a day after blasting Ryan in an email, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino didn’t seem impressed with the Wisconsin Republican’s change of heart.

“I said he’s a yellow-bellied coward in my memo,” Paladino said.

Ryan refused to endorse Trump even after his remaining GOP rivals exited the race.  He previously cited conservative principles as the reason for keeping Trump at arm’s length.

“For a man who didn’t show many conservative values when he took a bunch of RINO Republicans and joined the Democrats in voting in an omnibus spending bill for a trillion dollars that (President) Obama wanted,” said Paladino.

Paladino scoffed at establishment and conservative Republican opposition to his preferred candidate. He even defended Trump’s efforts to appeal to moderate and independent voters.

“If you’re way over to the right you’re not going to get elected,” Paladino said.

That statement is a bit of a departure from the Paladino we’ve come to expect. The Buffalo businessman described his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and his continued involvement in state politics as a continued effort to drag the state Republican party to the right.

“These days you have to be 100 percent conservative or we’re going to vote for the liberal?  What’s wrong with these people?” asked Paladino.

Ryan announced Thursday he would be voting for Trump.  He said a Trump presidency would aid the House majority in implementing its agenda.

Paladino called Ryan, and his “half-hearted” endorsement, irrelevant.

“Finally he comes out today and says he’s going to vote for him?  He didn’t want to give a full endorsement.  It’s like make up your mind buddy.  Obviously he’s not going to be a great statesman,” Paladino added

Paladino’s School Board Opponent Threatening To Sue

Save for a major surprise when absentee ballots are counted, the school board race is over but Carl Paladino and his 18-year-old opponent Austin Harig are still trading barbs. Harig is now threatening to sue Paladino over statements he made shortly after the unofficial election results came in Tuesday night.

Paladino was clearly upset after losing his majority coalition and nearly being upset by the high school senior. He lashed out at the “collusive” group he said voted for Harig.

“They’ve elected an 18-year-old kid who wants to have a career but who was just suspended from school for tardiness and not showing up while he’s running for office,” he said.

Harig was not happy when he heard that sound bite. He asked for our video or a full transcription of our interview with Carl (we don’t do that).

Now he wants to bring a lawsuit against Paladino for violating the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy act. He said a board member should not be disclosing his private educational record.

“He used his position as an educational official to go and get that information and it wasn’t publicized by me, and then he made it public, and that’s a violation of the law,” Harig said.

Thursday, Paladino said he heard “on the street” that Harig was suspended.

“I did not violate any FERPA law. I suggest that if he wants to sue me, he go right ahead, because I have no reason to believe in this kid having any credibility whatsoever. He can dream and fantasize any way he wants, I don’t play that game and I certainly don’t violate the law,” Paladino said.

Harig said he doesn’t have enough money to afford an attorney and is looking for someone to take the case pro bono. As for why he never mentioned he was suspended, Harig said he wasn’t trying to hide anything but didn’t think it was a big deal.

Paladino Not Celebrating Narrow School Board Re-Election

Former New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino appeared to win his second term on the Buffalo Public School Board on Tuesday night. Paladino went to bed with a 107 vote lead over 18-year-old high school senior Austin Harig. There are 140 absentee ballots yet to be counted.

While Paladino is likely to hold on to his seat, it appears he’ll return as a minority member – a prospect Paladino didn’t seem too optimistic about.

“What you’re going to see now is poor, uninformed, unable leadership drive this district further into an incompetent and in many cases corrupt mode that it has been falling into for a long time now,” Paladino said.

Paladino said his “narrow” victory over Harig felt hollow, claiming Harig was just suspended from school for tardiness.

“I don’t understand why a $1 billion institution would be relegated to the immaturity and absolutely ‘off the reservation’ ability of an 18-year-old kid. But that’s who they supported. And I narrowly beat him. Narrowly,” Paladino said.

The Erie County Board of Elections confirms the turnout was half of what it was three years ago when Paladino won convincingly. Two years later, Paladino backed candidates who helped win control of the board.

“The reform group was in the process of taking our schools to a better place,” Paladino said.

Paladino accused Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic Party, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the AFL-CIO of teaming up to “buy” the election.

“They knew how to buy it, Paladino said. “It was unfortunate that the people couldn’t see it coming because our press is so lacking. But today was a bad day for the City of Buffalo.”

The Buffalo businessman has devoted the past few months to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Two Paladino-backed candidates failed to get their names on the ballot and lost write-in campaigns, including the current board’s president.

As Paladino continues to consider another run for governor in 2018, his commitment to the school board going forward seems uncertain.

“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Right now I don’t feel too good about what’s happened,” Paladino said. “At some point someone has to get a hold of this monster and do something about it. We tried.”

Cruz-Kasich Partnership Not Going Over Well With Some GOP Leaders

We’ll find out Tuesday, if John Kasich and Ted Cruz’s temporary alliance against Donald Trump pays off. But the initial reaction, at least from some high-profile New York Republicans was not good.

Trump supporters Carl Paladino and Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, gave the expected answers when asked about the partnership. They said Cruz, who can’t mathematically reach the 1237 delegates needed for the nomination, is changing the rules for his own benefit.

“He’s a desperate career politician. I don’t think it will work. I think it will actually backfire on them. You’ve seen the massive turnout, turning out because the voters know they’re frustrated and angry about the direction of our country under Barack Obama,” Collins said.

“One way or another, Trump’s gonna win this thing and that’s sort of predestined. Why, because he’s the best candidate and because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of the American people,” Paladino said.

Perhaps more damning though were the comments from downstate Congressman Peter King, who was Collins’s guest in Western New York, Monday. King has been no fan of Trump, criticizing him in February after he refused to condemn Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

“I voted for Kasich mainly because I do still have some questions for Donald Trump but I’m not opposed to him. Actually, I’ve had some contact with him after the last several weeks,” King said.

King has made clear how much he does oppose Cruz though. He said last week he’d “take cyanide” if Cruz won the GOP nomination.

“Ted Cruz is a fraud and him to somehow spend all his time in Washington attacking what he called the establishment and now playing an establishment game that’s just going to… again, he’s not the guy who can do this,” King said.

The congressman said he’s not worried about the appearance of a fractured party. He said Republican voters are more energized than Democrats and he’s predicting a victory this fall… just hopefully not for Cruz.

Paladino Defends Using Phrase “Racoons In The Basement”

Western New York mega-Trump supporter Carl Paladino was riding high Tuesday night. His candidate for president had just claimed a resounding victory in their home state and Paladino got the prime spot for the victory speech, standing right behind the New York City billionaire.

Paladino was on television sets all over the country and perhaps in the most influential position he’s been in since winning the Republican nomination for governor in 2010. Paladino granted an interview to NPR’s David Greene early Tuesday morning.

For those who interview Buffalo’s outspoken businessman regularly, his remarks were pretty typical. He criticized the Republican establishment and President Obama.

But it was his comment right at the end of the interview that’s now drawing criticism.

“People that get onto this bus, on the Trump Bus, are people that are very, very frustrated with their government as it’s been. That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter what kind of person is the exterminator, okay? They want the raccoons out of the basement,” Paladino said.

It appeared Greene had heard enough. He cut Paladino off before he finished his thought, thanked him and ended the interview. A number of publications wrote about the exchange including

“Trump surrogate Carl Paladino likened President Obama to a ‘raccoon in the basement,’ a racial slur that promptly reminded people why he was such an unpopular candidate for governor in 2010,” author Aaron Rupar wrote.

Never one to be called a racist, Paladino fired back in a mass email.

“Aaron apparently listened to me on NPR this morning and got all his delicate sensibilities out of sorts and panties bunched up over a reference I made relating to getting the raccoons out of the basement, interpreting it as a racial slur,” Paladino continued. “My words were referencing a widely circulated piece written by and 80 year old American who used the analogy.”

Paladino included the original email written by an “anonymous author.” It’s a tactic he’s used in the past to share viewpoints with a large audience.

Although it’s a little bit unclear, the analogy does appear to compare the establishment to raccoons that take over the basement when somebody goes on vacation. Donald Trump would be the aforementioned “exterminator.”

“There is one guy however, who guarantees you he will get rid of them, so you hire him. You don’t care if the guy smells, you don’t care if the guy swears, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he was friends with liberals, you don’t care if he has plumber’s crack… you simply want those raccoons gone,” he wrote.

That’s not saying the author stays away from racial overtones. Here’s an excerpt from another part of the letter:

“We are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo and Hasid is part of a special group with special rights, to the point where we don’t recognize the country we were born and raised in,” he wrote.

But that’s not the part of the letter in question.

So is the term “raccoons” a racial slur? A quick google search suggested raccoons could be short for “coons,” a pejorative for African-Americans. Here are a few links about the history.

Another wrinkle is Paladino has been fighting this battle for years. When he ran for governor in 2010 there was the controversy over allegedly racist emails he shared and he’s faced a steady stream of negative comments since he joined the Buffalo Public School Board in 2013.

As for the most recent development, Paladino called it a hit piece and said he expects a retraction from Rupar.


Paladino: Trump Will Win NY With ’60 To 65′ Percent Of The Vote

Mark it a landslide, dude.

New York’s top Donald Trump booster Carl Paladino on Wednesday in an interview with Fox Business predicted the New York mogul and GOP presidential candidate will win this month’s primary with at least 60 percent of the vote.

“Donald Trump should win 60 to 65 percent of the vote across New York state,” Paladino said in the interview. “I’ve been out in the boondocks, I’ve been in the cities, the festering anger that brings that loyalty to him, you can’t affect that relationship with the people he has right now.”

Paladino has been an early supporter of Trump, who in turn has garnered support from western New York officials ranging from Rep. Chris Collins to Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. Paladino has also pushed New York’s GOP House delegation to endorse Trump. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from the Southern Tier, endorsed Trump last month.

Paladino, meanwhile, in the interview defended Trump’s reaction to his loss in Wisconsin on Tuesday night that had him lashing out at his chief rival for the GOP nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz, and sympathized with a “human reaction.”

“You’ve got to feel a little bit of that pain when he’s facing what he’s facing,” he said. “We’ve got a guy who this is his first time out running for office, just like me.”

Trump Campaign To Open Office In Paladino’s Buffalo Building

The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will open an office in Carl Paladino’s Ellicott Square Building, the 2010 gubernatorial nominee and businessman confirmed to TWC News in Buffalo.

Trump’s campaign is expected to open the office sometime next week, possibly Monday or Tuesday, a month before the New York presidential primary.

At the same time, Paladino has been in contact with Trump’s campaign about a potential visit and rally to New York ahead of the April 19 primary.

Paladino added Trump is likely to visit upstate cities as well, including Rochester and Syracuse.

Paladino has been a prominent supporter of Trump’s insurgent bid for the White House and has urged Republican office holders, especially members of the GOP House delegation, to endorse the real estate mogul’s campaign.

A Siena College poll found Trump leads both Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by 27 percentage points, gaining ground since last month over his GOP rivals. Rubio dropped out of the race last night after a disappointing showing in his home state primary.

Paladino Warm To Stefanik Primary Challenge

Carl Paladino, the Republican nominee for governor in 2010 and prominent Donald Trump supporter, wrote in an email on Wednesday he was open to having someone challenge freshman Rep. Elise Stefanik in a GOP primary.

“She drinks the cool aid. Clearly she’s a fraud,” Paladino wrote in an email, which was sent widely and in response to a supporter’s question about a Stefanik challenge. “She never told the people she was a RINO Washington elitist establishment sell-out.”

Paladino, perhaps unintentionally, noted Stefanik’s ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan (she was part of his debate preparation during his 2012 run for vice president).

“She blindly followed Paul Ryan to join the Democrats and pass a wasteful and bloated unaffordable budget with the very lame excuse that otherwise the government would shut down,” Paladino wrote. “Her constituents would love for the government to shut down.”

Paladino has been pushing Republican members of New York’s House delegation to fall in line behind Trump’s presidential campaign. So far, only one congressional member from New York has backed Trump: western New York Rep. Chris Collins.

Stefanik was first elected in 2014 to the North Country congressional seat that has been considered a hotly contested battleground since 2009, when President Obama plucked Rep. John McHugh to become the secretary of the Army.

This year, Stefanik is expected to face Democrat Mike Derrick. Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello is also expected to run again for the sprawling Adirondack district.