The four New York Republican state senators who voted for marriage equality last month have been rewarded with generous campaign contributions from advocates including New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who joined others in giving the maximum allowable amount to the lawmakers.
The New York Daily News reports on the donations to senators James Alesi, Roy McDonald, Stephen Saland, and Mark Grisanti. Bloomberg, who indicated he would support Republicans if they voted for the bill, sent $10,300 apiece to the senators, which became evident on Wednesday when Grisanti filed his July financial disclosure statement.
"Bloomberg, who traveled twice to the capitol to lobby for gay weddings, was listed as having made his donation on July 8 -- two weeks after the historic vote," reports the Daily News.
The mayor, a Democrat turned Republican turned independent, has long been a significant financial contributor to the state Senate Republican conference, which in June became the first GOP-controlled legislative body to pass a marriage equality bill. Two years ago, when the marriage equality bill failed in the Senate, then controlled by Democrats, no Republican voted for the measure. That led some activists to question the influence of the mayor, who this year delivered a high-profile speech on marriage equality and contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign to pass the bill.
The Buffalo News reports that Senator Grisanti received about $50,000 from various gay rights donors after he voted for the bill, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law June 24. Software entrepreneur Tim Gill of Colorado gave the senator $10,000.
"Other donors to Grisanti who have publicly backed gay marriage rights include $5,000 from Miami-area resident Jonathan Kislak, $2,000 from Carol Master of Massachusetts, $10,000 from Albany-area resident Frank Selvaggi and $5,000 from Manhattan real estate developer Donald Capoccia," reports the Buffalo News.
Grisanti said Bloomberg was the only donor who included a thank-you note for his marriage equality vote. The mayor will officiate the wedding of his chief policy adviser, John Feinblatt, and his partner, Jonathan Mintz, the New York City consumer affairs commissioner, on July 24, the first day same-sex couples will be eligible to marry in the state.
Grisanti was the last of the four senators to come forward and vote for the marriage equality bill. The Buffalo-area attorney said on the Senate floor the night of the vote, "I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage."
A freshman Republican who won a narrow upset victory in a majority-Democrat district last year, Grisanti is considered one of the most vulnerable yes votes. He could face a Democratic challenger in addition to primary pressure from marriage equality opponents like the National Organization for Marriage who have vowed to unseat him and his three colleagues.