ALBANY -- The Republican senators who voted to legalize same-sex marriage have seen an infusion in campaign cash from gay-rights activists across the country, records filed with the state Board of Elections show.
Sens. James Alesi of Perinton, Monroe County; Mark Gristani of Buffalo and Roy McDonald of Saratoga all received at least $50,000 from gay-right supporters in the days following their vote. Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, had not filed his campaign finance report as of Friday morning.
Although Alesi's filings didn't show it, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly contributed the maximum $10,300 to each of the four Republicans. The measure passed June 24 by a vote of 33-29.
"They didn't vote the way I wanted. They voted the right way. They voted the way for freedom, for democracy, for equality, and I think we should all support that," Bloomberg said yesterday, according to the New York Daily News.
Bloomberg's donations drew a rebuke from Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, a minister and staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.
"It appears that state Sens. Stephen Saland, Mark Grisanti, James Alesi and Roy McDonald sold their votes to the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg for $10,300 each," Diaz said.
Alesi took in nearly $150,000 in contributions during the prior six months, with a surge of cash from major national supporters of same-sex marriage.
Alesi received the $10,300 maximum each from Tim Gill, a wealthy Colorado entrepreneur who heads the gay-rights group Gill Foundation, billionaire Robert Ziff and Frank Selvaggi, a member of the Empire State Pride Agenda board. Ziff also gave Alesi $6,500 for a potential primary election.
Grisanti and McDonald reported similar donations from the same individuals.
Alesi also refunded $10,300 in donations from the embattled ESL Sports Centre in Brighton, Monroe County.
The four Republican senators are expected to face strong opposition from conservatives when they plan to seek re-election next year. The National Organization for Marriage is pledging to spend $2 million to defeat the senators, and the state Conservative Party is vowing not to back their elections.
Joseph Spector/Gannett Albany Bureau