The Niagara Falls Reporter was hit with a subpoena last week ordering the paper to turn over any records in its possession relating to doing business with congressional candidate Jack Davis.
The subpoena comes on the heels of a series of unfavorable articles relating to Dan Rivera, Niagara County's unsavory Democratic Party chairman, and his employer, Buffalo attorney Marc Panepinto, a former organizer for Laborers Local 210 who has also been convicted of violating state election laws.
Both men are ardent supporters of Jon Powers, the former substitute schoolteacher and Iraq war veteran whose struggling, low-budget campaign has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent weeks.
The subpoena "commanded" the Reporter to turn over "all books, records, correspondence, purchase orders, invoices, vouchers, checks, and any and all business records in relationship to any and all advertisement(s), notices, flyers, inserts, literature, or any other materials of a political nature printed, produced and or copied, that were paid for by Jack Davis and/or state 'PAID FOR BY JACK DAVIS", in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and calendar year 2008, to date."
The ludicrous document also contained a direct threat:
"Your failure to obey this subpoena is a misdemeanor and is punishable by fine and imprisonment."
The contemptible cretin who sent the subpoena, William J. McCann Jr., bills himself as "Special Deputy Counsel for Enforcement / New York State Board of Elections."
He's an enforcer, all right. A real tough guy.
When asked whether his subpoena, which arrived less than two weeks prior to the Sept. 9 primary, might be seen as a ham-handed attempt to disrupt a federal election, McCann grew irate.
"You don't ask the questions here, you answer them," he blustered. "Either you have what we're looking for or you don't, and if you have them, you've been ordered to turn them over."
Perhaps the bumbling bureaucrat watched too many episodes of "Dragnet" when he was a kid, because his gaudy patter would have been far more appropriate had he been grilling a robbery suspect. As it was, McCann was speaking to a member of the working press and small-business owner in Western New York who is, theoretically, just the sort of person he has sworn to serve.
The comedy comes in because the Reporter has never done any business whatsoever with Jack Davis. To the best of our knowledge, no one working for the paper has ever talked to Jack Davis, even on the telephone, or to anyone involved in any of Davis' various campaigns.
"This was clearly an attempt to intimidate the paper into not doing any more articles about Dan Rivera, Marc Panepinto, or their candidate Jon Powers," said one longtime Democratic strategist. "They're not the sharpest knives in the drawer, and their plan backfired."
The beleaguered Powers campaign was rocked two weeks ago when the Buffalo News ran an article showing the candidate's charity, War Kids Relief, had raised somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 in order to build an orphanage for children in Iraq. The orphanage was never built, and the article stated that Powers paid himself as much as $77,000 in salary from the proceeds around the time he decided to run for Congress.
More damaging revelations are expected this week, when the media lays its hands on the charity's Internal Revenue Service 990 forms, which list revenues and expenditures, filed last week by Powers.
Also this past week, documents surfaced showing that Powers had been charged by police in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with disturbing the peace early on the morning of Oct. 23, 2004, after becoming abusive to an officer investigating a noise complaint.
Powers campaign mouthpiece Victoria Dillon first told the media that the candidate had been charged with "jaywalking," which was an outright lie.
"Jon was written a ticket for jaywalking, never arrested and never showed any disrespect to law enforcement." Dillon said.
The arresting officer, who was actually there at the time, told a different story.
"What are you f--king looking at, you motherf--king cop!" the officer quoted the candidate as shouting.
Powers was charged with disorderly conduct and paid a total of $90 in fines and costs after entering a plea of no contest in Cleveland Heights Municipal Court shortly before launching his congressional campaign.
But perhaps the candidate's behavior shouldn't come as a surprise. Desperately trying to come up with money and support, he has enlisted the aid of some of the region's most notorious political characters.
Niagara Democratic Party Chairman Dan Rivera lost his job as an investigator at Liberty Mutual Insurance after using his privileged position to obtain sealed court records concerning Gary Parenti, who was running against Rep. Francine Del Monte in the party primary of 2006.
Because of Rivera's actions, Liberty Mutual was forced to pay a settlement said to have been in the low six figures after Parenti sued.
And this spring, Diane Roberts, the county party's vice-chairwoman, accused Rivera of harassment and abuse following a physical confrontation and a foul-mouthed telephone call she received from the chairman. She has since resigned her position.
The jobless Rivera's penchant for political poison didn't go unnoticed, however, and he was hired by Buffalo attorney Marc Panepinto, a party hack with a past of his own.
Panepinto spent much of the 1990s as an organizer for the mobbed-up Laborers Local 210 in Buffalo. Later, he became involved in Democratic Party politics, and in 2001 was charged with election law violations, finally pleading guilty in Erie County Court.
Panepinto admitted that he had signed his name as a witness to nominating petitions that were not in fact signed in his presence.
He was subsequently suspended by the New York State Bar Association, a decision he fought all the way to the state Appellate Court, which upheld the suspension in 2001.
"This Court determined that misconduct in relation to petitions is a serious crime," the judges stated.
Powers, Panepinto and Rivera. The original gang that couldn't shoot straight. And only in the corrupt political environment that has existed for years here on the Niagara Frontier could such a hapless crew have enough juice in Albany to get a newspaper subpoenaed.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||Aug. 19 2008|