CORNING – Congressman Tom Reed’s (R-Corning, NY 23) reelection team attacked challenger Tracy Mitrno’s (D-Penn Yan) campaign finance spending on Wednesday, claiming in a media release that she inappropriately and illegally transferred campaign funds directly to herself.
Reed’s campaign team – Tom Reed for Congress – points to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission that show the Tracy Mitrano for Congress campaign committee making direct payments to Mitrano, totaling more than $16,000 in rent since the start of 2019. FEC regulations prohibit campaigns from paying the mortgage, rent, or utilities for the personal residence of the candidate or the candidate’s family, even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign.
“You have to wonder if people know that when they contribute their hard earned money to Tracy’s campaign that they’re actually padding Tracy’s own pockets in violation of federal law. With spending decisions like these– the candidate profiting off of the campaign– it’s no wonder Tracy’s campaign is floundering,” said Matt Coker, spokesperson for the Reed campaign in a media release sent out Wednesday afternoon.
Mitrano’s campaign immediately responded to the allegations by the Reed camp, calling the attack baseless and added that Reed was trying to “distract voters from his abysmal voting record in Washington.”
According to Mitrano’s campaign, the rent payments in question is for a secondary property in Ithaca that is owned by Mitrano, but which is being used for campaign activity, meetings with reporters, and storage of campaign materials.
“The property is not Mitrano’s residence; she has lived in Penn Yan for the last three years, as documented in her federal income tax filings,” Mitrano’s campaign stated in a media release responding to the Reed campaign allegations. “The campaign is legally required to pay rent and utilities and report it as an Operating Expenditure.”
As a result, Mitrano’s team said there is no violation of federal election law. Mitrano campaign spokesperson Claudia Wheatley also said that Mitrano isn’t even profiting from her campaign using the property because it is paying below the market rate.
“The campaign uses a small portion of the Ithaca property for storage and occasional meetings, for which Tracy receives $500 per month. Ithaca’s housing market is such that she could get many times that if she rented the entire building to someone else,” Wheatley explained.
Mitrano’s campaign also turned the tables on Reed, saying that if any candidate is in violation, it is him, who they accused of accepting millions in Corporate PAC and special interest funding and then using the campaign funds to wine and dine donors.
“Reed’s claim about Tracy’s ‘rent’ expenditure being in violation of FEC rules is a weak and ridiculous smokescreen to try to inoculate his campaign from his own financial misdeeds,” said Mitrano campaign manager Paula Younger.
The Mitrano campaign pointed to several expenditures by the Reed campaign to illustrate the point:
- Over $39,000 on tickets to sporting events;
- More than $28,000 on Christmas ornaments from the House Gift Shop and White House Historical Society;
- Over $12,000 at the Sonoma Wine Bar in Washington, D.C.; and
- More than $11,000 for a 2019 donor retreat in Montana.
“If Tom Reed would like to talk about these issues in a public televised forum (or even five of them across this district), Tracy Mitrano again encourages him to accept any of the debate offers the media has sent him,” the Mitrano camp said near the end of its media release, referring to its request to hold five debates during the campaign season. “Reed won’t, because he would have to confront a decade’s worth of empty promises, doing the bidding of corporate PACs, and continuing to ignore the real concerns of voters in this district.”
Reed – who’s served in Congress since 2011 and has represented Chautauqua County since the start of 2013 following redistricting – defeated Mitrano in the 2018 Election and this year’s race is a rematch between the two.