Russell donating campaign donation received from disgraced former assemblyman
State Assemblywoman Addie Russell is still untangling herself from ties with disgraced former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Lopez resigned from the state legislature in May 2013 in the midst of allegations that he sexually harassed female staffers. Lopez was also a big fundraiser for Democrats, including Russell. Russell represents the 116th District, more commonly known as the River District, in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties.
Lopez gave $2,500 to Russell’s election campaign between 2008 and 2010. Russell’s challenger, Republican John Byrne, has focused on Lopez’s contribution to Russell to tie her to the corruption in Albany. Throughout her campaign, Russell has insisted she donated Lopez’s money to charity as a way to distance herself from the assemblyman’s actions.
“Very early on in my Assembly career he sent a check to my campaign committee. I’m not directly involved in that side of things and when I realized he sent something I donated it to charity. Mr. Byrne can clearly see that I made a donation to the American Red Cross," said Russell.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Russell called WRVO/North Country Public Radio Julia Botero to say she had overlooked a contribution from Lopez.
In September of 2008 during Russell’s first run for office, Lopez contributed $2,000 to Russell's campaign fund. Russell said she hadn’t thought to look that far back to search for money from Lopez. She said Wednesday that her staff was cutting checks to two local charities. Russell says the Victims Assistance Center and the Renewal House will each get $1,000 from Russell’s campaign this week.