TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Democratic primary is just days away, meaning that campaign finances and personal financial disclosures from Congressional candidates in New York’s 19th District have come due. Currently facing the field are Democrats Josh Riley and Jamie Cheney and Republican Marc Molinaro.

Among the items congressional campaigns must provide to the Federal Elections Commission are the quarterly campaign finances and the personal finance disclosures (PFD). According to instructions on the personal financial disclosure guide, the general deadline for this paperwork was May 16, or 30 days after a campaign had raised $5,000, whichever came last.

With the redistricting process that placed Tompkins County into the 19th District and pushed the Democratic primary from its initial date of June 28 to Aug. 23, candidates have been forced to make decisions about where they would continue to run, or even which office they were running for.

Riley, a defense lawyer by trade, began his campaign in November 2021 and moved to Ithaca over the winter to run in then-NY-22, announced on May 16 that he would continue to run in NY-19, which includes his home county as well as Tompkins County. 

Riley has connections with Boies Schiller Flexner, the firm founded by David Boies, one of the most powerful attorneys in America, known for his work during the 2000 election on behalf of Democrat Al Gore and more recently his work with Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein. Their work with Weinstein came with consequences, according to this article from Bloomberg. As a result of the controversy, 60 attorneys left the firm, including Riley, who was then hired by Jenner & Block as a partner in 2021. (Riley’s PFD lists him as a non-equity partner on leave at Jenner & Block.)

Cheney, founding partner of Prokanga, a consulting search firm that “specializes in working with clients to find candidates that traditional search firms often do not focus on — namely, working parents,” according to the website’s landing page, runs a farm in the Hudson Valley. Cheney initially began campaigning for state senate in May 2021 before announcing her switch to run for the 19th District Congressional seat on May 21, saying that the new district maps brought the rural communities of the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier together and that she understands the challenges those communities face.

The Ithaca Voice crunched the campaign finance numbers, and here’s what we found.

Between Oct. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Riley has raised $1,214,486.33, with his own contributions totaling $12,000. The campaign’s disbursements totaled $422,595.80, $419,593.30 of which are operating expenditures.

Cycle-to-date, Riley has raised $1,392,389 and Cheney $531,154, and small-dollar contributions for the two Democrats and one Republican are as follows: Riley with $59,131, Cheney with $13,931 and Molinaro with $14,358.

Among Riley’s notable contributors are attorneys, law and managing partners from former employer Boies Schiller Flexner, and contributions totaled $272,250, with $8,700 personally from the aforementioned David Boies.

Cheney entered the Congressional campaigning scene a little later, fundraised a total of $419,048 between April 1 and June 30, 2022, including a $100,000 personal loan. Cheney’s disbursements totaled $78,839.01, entirely in operating costs.

Cash on hand as of the end of the July 2022 quarterly filings period (which ended Aug. 3) totaled $498,262.17 for Riley and $159,449.79 for Cheney.

Of the just over 3,000 contributions for Riley, the Voice found 76 of them to be from Ithaca addresses, and 294 of them to be within the NY-19 district. Cheney has a total of 534 contributions, with 20 of them showing as originating within the district. (It should be noted that these numbers may not be entirely accurate as about half of the total contributions were made through a software called ActBlue, which hides contributor’s originating information.)

In July, the Albany Times Union reported that Cheney had failed to meet the deadline requirements for the PFD, which was 30 days after the campaign had raised $5,000 or June 16. Communication between the Voice and her campaign determined that technical problems had resulted in the delay, and that the disclosure had been filed on paper July 20, with the FEC making it publicly available in early August, and can be found here.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Cheney’s PFD did not disclose the client list, but it does, and can be viewed on pages eight through 11, here.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...