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News10NBC investigates: What are these campaign subpoenas about?

December 07, 2018 11:24 PM

News10NBC continues our reporting on an investigation into the 2017 race for Rochester mayor. 

On Thursday, News10NBC told you subpoenas from the Monroe County District Attorney's Office were delivered to people in our community.

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News10NBC confirmed the subpoenas are connected to campaign donations to, and campaign committees set up for, Mayor Lovely Warren's re-election last year. 

The mayor said in a statement that she has not received a subpoena and she did not do anything wrong. 

Here's what we know. 

One of the subpoenas from the DA went to the former chair of the mayor's re-election fundraising committee, Tim Tompkins. 

News10NBC asked to speak to District Attorney Sandra Doorley. 

In a statement her office said she "cannot comment on any potential pending investigations."

According to New York State Board of Election filings, the mayor had two committees during her re-election campaign. 

One was her re-election committee, Friends of Lovely Warren, and the second was a political action committee, or PAC, Warren for a Stronger Rochester.

Susan Lerner is the director of Common Cause, a good government group in New York state. 

Susan Lerner: "So you have the PACs and the Super PACs that take out ads, that send obnoxious mailers."

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "So our viewers should understand that there should be no coordination between these two committees?" 

Lerner: "That's correct."

During the 2017 campaign, two people running against the mayor -- Rachel Barnhart and James Sheppard -- complained about the amount of money in the mayor's two campaign-related committees.

Sheppard, a former Rochester Police chief, officially complained to the state Board of Elections. 

On Friday, in a statement with his former campaign manager, Sheppard said, "We believed then and still believe our complaint merited a careful review. We look forward to a thorough and complete investigation by the District Attorney's Office."

After the complaints in 2017, Mayor Warren re-funded $21,000 to campaign donors. 

In 2017, News10NBC reported that money came from ticket sales to the Mayor's Ball, one of her largest fundraisers, that should have gone into her re-election committee but didn't. 

At the time, the mayor said it was an oversight. 

"I know how Hillary felt, because my opponents for mayor don't want to talk about issues," Mayor Warren said on July 28, 2017. "They don't want to talk about their record or accomplishments because they have none. Instead, they are personally attacking me and creating fake issues."
  
After our story Thursday, the mayor gave us this statement: "I have not received a subpoena, I have not been advised by the District Attorney of any Grand Jury Investigatory Proceedings, nor have I engaged in any wrongdoing. By law, all Grand Jury proceedings including investigations are private and held confidentially, so anyone discussing this matter publicly or with the media would be potentially violating the law. As an attorney and an Officer of the Court I respect that process and must also abide by it, so I will not speculate on any discussion surrounding a Grand Jury investigation - that conversation should most appropriately be directed to the District Attorney."

News10NBC read the law about grand juries. It says it's a felony for lawyers, members of the grand jury, prosecutors and police to disclose the nature of a case in a grand jury but it says, "nothing... shall prohibit a witness from disclosing his own testimony."

CLICK HERE to see the grand jury law. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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