BUFFALO, NY- Because the race for the 27th Congressional District is so tight, a lot of money is being poured into it from outside sources that don't necessarily have any connection to this area. Two On Your Side looked into how outside PACs are influencing this race.
According to research by our partner The Investigative Post, Republican Chris Collins is outspending Democrat Kathy Hochul $2.2 million to $1.7 million and a large part of that money is coming from political action committees, or PACs.
Chris Collins has gotten about two-thirds of his money from PACs, or about $1.6 million. Hochul has received significantly less, about $600,000 or one-third of her money.
Super PACs as they're called usually aren't local, and by law, they're not supposed to coordinate with the campaigns directly. They represent business, labor or ideological interests, and they don't have to disclose their donors.
"You might have some group that is interested in a very specific social issue. They don't want to talk about it. So they'll bash a candidate for something else which is more popular to talk about to get them more votes," said Erie County Legislator and political analyst Dr. Kevin Hardwick,
Hochul's biggest outside supporter is the House Majority PAC. It's a political committee steered by House Democratic leaders. It was formed last year and spent $400,000 helping Hochul win ousted Republican Chris Lee's seat in the special election. This year, it spent $570,560 on her behalf. And according to opensecrets.org, not one of its top 50 donors are from Western New York.
Chris Collins has a myriad of outside support. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $491,880 on Collins ads. It doesn't list any businesses or individuals as donors, only other committees.
The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $462,800 for Collins. Its biggest contributors include Chevron, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and Donald Trump. Not one of the large donors is local.
The US Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit and one of the most powerful interest groups in U.S. Politics. It routinely spends tens of millions on unreported "issue advocacy" targeting federal candidates. It spent more than $311,455 on Collins' ads and doesn't disclose its donors.
It's a race ultimately decided by local voters, but financed by outside interests.