A Republican candidate for New York’s 19th congressional district is an Obama donor, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Andrew Heaney, a heating oil executive, maxed out to President Obama’s first campaign, donating $2,300 in 2007.
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Heaney is running against John Faso, a former New York state gubernatorial candidate, in the Republican primary for the seat held by Rep. Chris Gibson, who is not running for reelection.
The primary heated up this week when Faso questioned the legality of a Super PAC funded by Heaney, the New York Jobs Council, a group based in Washington, D.C., that shares the same consultants as the campaign.
Heaney donated all of the $60,000 the New York Jobs Council received through June, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported earlier this month. The group’s efforts thus far have been concentrated exclusively on attacking Faso on Twitter as an "insider lobbyist."
The New York Jobs Council’s only expenditures were to a consulting firm and an opposition research company run by former Rudy Giuliani staffers. The PAC paid In the Field, the consulting firm, $18,000, and the Jackson-Alvarez Group $7,500.
In the Field is run by Rob Cole and Jake Menges, former George Pataki and Giuliani staffers. Cole is also acting as the executive director of the New York Jobs Council.
Cole and Menges previously worked for George Demos, a Republican candidate with major ties to Democratic donors who ultimately lost to Rep. Lee Zeldin in the primary for New York’s first district.
Gary Maloney, another former consultant for Giuliani, owns the Jackson-Alvarez Group.
Heaney’s campaign is also paying some of the same consultants. According to his October quarterly filing with the FEC, the campaign paid Menges $5,000 for consulting fees, and the Jackson-Alvarez Group $3,000 for research.
Faso said Heaney needs to "come clean" about the New York Jobs Council, questioning whether the PAC is coordinating with Heaney’s campaign.
"It’s hard to believe what Mr. Heaney is trying to sell to his new neighbors in the 19th congressional district," said Bill O’Reilly, a spokesman for the Faso campaign. "Does he really expect people to believe that a PAC entirely funded by Heaney family companies, and which has done nothing but attack a primary opponent, wasn’t set up to help his candidacy? This not only fails to pass the laugh test, it’s treads on serious legal ground."
"Mr. Heaney and his Washington Super PAC are making a mockery of federal campaign finance laws and he needs to address it," he said.
Requests for comment from the New York Jobs Council were not returned.
David Catalfamo, a campaign spokesperson, said that it is "patently false" that there is any coordination between the campaign and the Super PAC, and emphasized Heaney’s donations to Republican candidates.
"Andrew Heaney has donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican candidates including maxing out to Senator McCain’s presidential campaign and $5000 to the McCain PAC, Straight Talk," Catalfamo said. "During that same cycle, when John Faso’s PAC was contributing heavily to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, some Clinton operatives were running a quietly racist campaign which Andrew found simply disgusting."
"It’s sad that John Faso, in a race that’s barely started, is going so negative," he said.
Catalfamo also dismissed the notion that Menges was paid by the campaign.
"Jake is not a partner or owner of In the Field consulting," Catalfamo said. "That In the Field shows up on the Super PAC filings—that I have not looked at, honestly—that Jake worked for the campaign and was paid by the campaign, the answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean anything because In the Field is a separate entity that is not owned by Jake."
"I have not seen a race dive to this level this quick, where [there are accusations that] people are running illegal PACs," he added. "That’s a pretty big charge to be making. John Faso has run numerous PACs, if he had any evidence that there was something wrong here then he should present it. But just throwing out false accusations is just sad."
Heaney had only contributed to Republicans before donating to Obama. He also gave $2,300 to John McCain in 2007 and $500 to Mitt Romney in 2011.
"I’ve traveled the district talking with a lot of families and small business owners and have yet to hear one person supportive of President Obama or his policies like Obamacare, this Iran Deal and the continuing economic stagnation," Faso said. "It’s hard to imagine how Andrew Heaney can explain away supporting Obama and now running in our Republican primary."