Donation data reflects political differences between UB employees and Council members

UB Council members have donated $902,700 to political causes since 2008

donations

A number of deans, faculty and staff donate primarily to Democrats, according to political donation data -- a stark contrast to UB Council members, who give money across party lines, records show.

The UB Council — which consists of eight governor-appointed members — has donated roughly 28 times the amount as UB’s most politically active high-profile employees.

UB employees have donated at least $31,400 to political campaigns and political action committees since Jan. 1, 2008, according to public records. The Spectrum found the majority of UB employee donations went to Democratic candidates and interests.

Members of the UB Council, the university’s oversight board composed of eight governor-appointed businesspeople and one student, have donated roughly $902,700 from Jan. 1, 2008 through Oct. 31, according to federal and state election filings. That amount of money would cover the entire cost of tuition for 22 UB undergrads at the current rate of tuition.

Council members have donated thousands to Republicans and Democrats, according to donation data. For instance, UB Council chair and Delaware North chair Jeremy M. Jacobs donated $100,000 to then-Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s campaign in 2016. Jacobs, one of Western New York’s richest residents, also owns the Boston Bruins hockey team.

New Era CEO and UB Council member Christopher H. Koch donated $10,200 to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2015.

The Spectruminitially focused on UB administrative donations, but our research expanded after we could not find a single political donation from UB’s top 11 administrators between Jan. 1, 2008 and Oct. 31.

Of the 12 deans listed on UB’s leadership page, three deans donated roughly $15,700 overall to political causes since Jan. 1, 2008, according to donation data. The three deans primarily donated to Democratic candidates and PACs.

Aviva Abramovsky, dean of the School of Law, has donated to Democratic candidates, including $1,800 to Joe Nicoletti and $1,000 to Stephanie Miner in 2009. Nicoletti and Miner were both mayoral candidates in Syracuse that year.

Other big donations from Abramovsky include $9,100 given to former Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei between 2008 and 2009, according to donation data.

Jacobs, UB Council chairman, donated almost $560,000 to political campaigns or PACs from Jan. 1, 2008 through Oct. 31, according to donation data. Jacobs’ donations count for roughly 62 percent of the current UB Council’s overall political donations since 2008, according to donation data.

Aside from Jacobs’ $100,000 Trump campaign donation in 2016, Jacobs has donated thousands to both Democratic and Republican campaigns in the past decade.

Jacobs donated $33,400 to the Republican National Committee in 2016. That money could cover a UB student’s 19-per-week meal plan for an entire four-year academic career, and roughly three additional semesters.

Jacobs has also donated $15,000 and $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton, respectively.

Koch’s donations are also split down the aisle.

Koch donated $50,000 to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during his election year. He also donated $8,500 to Republican state Sen. (and Jeremy Jacobs’ nephew) Chris Jacobs of Buffalo. Koch has also donated to Democratic candidates, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.).

Scott E. Friedman, UB Council member and Chairman and CEO of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, donated $5,000 to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2010. Friedman has also donated $2,000 to U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.).

Collins, who is running for re-election on Tuesday, was arrested by the FBI in August. Collins was charged with insider trading and making false statements to the FBI.

Nancy Smyth, dean of School of Social Work, has donated to Democrats outside of her district, according to donation data. Smyth, according to FEC data, has donated to ActBlue, a PAC dedicated to Democratic and progressive political interests.

Since May 2008, Smyth has given $1,475 overall to Democratic campaigns, according to donation data. Donations include $500 to now-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and $250 to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Benjamin Blanchet is the senior features editor and can be reached benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec on Twitter.