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Gubernatorial candidate alleges Zeldin campaign violated finance laws

Wilson-Zeldin Lawsuit WEB

Updated: 6/9/22 – 4:00 P.M.

Harry Wilson is suing fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-01), alleging the party-backed challenger violated campaign finance laws.

Wilson’s lawsuit filed in Albany County Supreme Court Wednesday evening asks the court to grant an injunction prohibiting Zeldin’s campaign from making any more expenditures of some campaign funds ahead of the June 28 primary election.

The lawsuit alleges Zeldin’s campaign improperly exceeded limits on how much donors can contribute to a single candidate ahead of a primary election by transferring funds from a separate joint account he holds with lieutenant governor candidate Alison Esposito.

The joint Zeldin-Esposito 2022 account has transferred just over $720,000 to Zeldin’s individual campaign account, according to Board of Elections campaign finance filings submitted as of May 27.

Additionally, the lawsuit argues that Zeldin continued raising funds through the federal campaign account he used while running for Congress. Federal campaign finance filings show that Zeldin raised almost $38,000 through his federal account during the first quarter of 2022. The same filings show he transferred $75,000 to his state account in January.

"He believes in a different set of rules for insiders like him," Wilson said in a statement to WSKG Thursday. "This is yet another example of why he will never be elected governor."

Zeldin’s campaign called Wilson’s lawsuit a “political stunt.”

“Knowing Harry Wilson can’t win on the merits, now he’s trying to cheat,” Zeldin’s campaign wrote in a statement to WSKG. “These are the types of desperate efforts you employ when you're fourth in a four-way primary.

*This story has been updated to include comment from Zeldin’s campaign.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.