State Senator Antoine Thompson Birthday Greeting Angers Constituents | News
GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. - Call it a birthday greeting gone bad.
Several Grand Island residents are complaining to 2 On Your Side about something that recently came in the mail from State Senator Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo).
"I was very upset," said Grand Island Resident Michael Pontikos. "And I still am."
The greeting is a generic birthday card mailer from Senator Thompson. The mailer is complete with his photo and a birthday wish. And all of it is printed, paid for, and mailed with state taxpayer dollars.
Ed Shelp, also of Grand Island, showed us the same card sent to his wife Rosemarie.
"I think it's wrong," Shelp said. "Why should we all be paying for something where he's campaigning, or whatever he's doing, and we have got pay for it. Let it come out of his own pocket."
Senator Thompson refused an interview with us Wednesday, but 2 On Your Side Photojournalist Norm Fisher caught up with Thompson recently.
PHOTOGRAPHER: I guess you send out birthday greetings to your constituents, is that true?
THOMPSON: Um, to senior citizens yes we do.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Ok... and...
THOMPSON: Many Senators do. Not just me. But, yes, we do.
PHOTOGRAPHER: And how much does that cost per year?
THOMPSON: I'm not certain of the exact cost, but it's within our allocation.
And no one from this region spends that allocation like Senator Thompson. A recent 2 On Your Side Investigation revealed that, compared to his other colleagues in Albany, Senator Thompson is the region's king of constituent mailers. In just two years, he spent $265,000 of your money.
All of that constituent mail does not impress Pontikos.
"If he thinks I would vote for him because he sent me a birthday card, I wouldn't vote for him if he sent me a birthday present," Pontikos said.
An aide for the region's longest-serving Senator, Dale Volker (R-Depew), said it is common for lawmakers to send informational mailers to constituents who have just turned 18. But, according to the aide, they are not birthday cards. They are reminders to register to vote.