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The Point: Schaffer makes his bets

Suffolk Democratic chairman personally supports several fellow Democrats.

Rich Schaffer in Lindenhurst on March 10, 2016.

Rich Schaffer in Lindenhurst on March 10, 2016. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Sometimes political contributions can be as much about communicating ideas as they are about funding campaigns, particularly when they come from a political party boss’ personal pocket. And that’s part of the impetus behind some of Suffolk County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer’s recent donations to several Democrats in races totally or partially in his realm.

Schaffer told The Point that his recent personal donations include:

  • $250 to Perry Gershon (1st Congressional District)
  • $500 to Liuba Grechen Shirley (2nd Congressional District)
  • $1,000 to James Gaughran (5th State Senate District)
  • $1,000 to Monica Martinez (3rd State Senate District)
  • $500 to Louis D’Amaro (4th State Senate District)
  • $500 to John Brooks (8th State Senate District)
  • $500 to Christine Pellegrino (9th State Assembly District).

These contributions are meant to dispel the idea that Schaffer has at times refused to help some Democrats, or more realistically, that those times have now passed.

In the 1st CD, Schaffer was seen as more supportive of Kate Browning than Gershon, and though he did not endorse in the primary, he gave Browning $1,000 in that cycle, then donated lesser amounts to some other candidates, including Gershon, after they got wind of the Browning contribution.

In the 2nd CD primary, Schaffer was clearly behind Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory in his fight against Grechen Shirley.

In State Senate contests, Schaffer has at times refused to work against Republicans with whom he had strong personal relationships. In past election cycles, he argued that a Republican-controlled State Senate in which the Long Island delegation wielded tremendous power was more beneficial for the Island than a New York City-dominated Democratic State Senate.

Schaffer hasn’t necessarily been hurt much by accusations that he favors one local Democrat over another: that’s what party bosses do. It’s the accusation that his moves have helped or could help Republicans and hurt the Democratic Party on a state and national level that he has to combat.

“In my book, actions speak louder than words, which is why I allow my personal donations to speak for whether or not I am fully behind candidates running for Congress and the State Senate,” Schaffer said in a statement to The Point. “There are those in our party who want to continue to divide us for their own political agenda. I will not allow them to be successful . . . ”

In a year when a party boss who doesn’t show up for battle with his guns blazing might not hold on to his command, Schaffer wants it known both that he’s coming out firing and that he’s only shooting in one direction.


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