Trash isn't the only thing that's flowing into Virginia from New York. A political action committee set up by the Empire State's Republican governor, George E. Pataki, has contributed $31,600 to nine GOP candidates for the Virginia General Assembly, according to a report filed with the State Board of Elections.
Pataki's beneficiaries included Sen. Jane H. Woods, of Fairfax, who got $3,600, and Senate challenger Daniel F. Rinzel, of Alexandria, who, like all the others, got $3,500.
While Democrats attempted to link the donations to the trash war between New York and Virginia, calling them "cash for trash," Republicans noted that it was Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) and Republicans in the state Senate who led the way in trying to restrict the importation of out-of-state trash to Virginia landfills during this year's legislative session.
"It doesn't pass the smell test," said Woods's Democratic opponent, former congresswoman and former state delegate Leslie L. Byrne, who pointed out that Pataki hasn't given any money to candidates in the other four states that have legislative races this year.
Adam Stoll, treasurer of Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC, declined to discuss why the contributions were limited to Virginia, saying only that Pataki is eager to "further his agenda of less government, lower taxes and more freedom."
Stoll said Pataki has two PACs, a federal one based in New York City and a nonfederal one based in Alexandria. Virginia was chosen for the latter, he said, because it does not set a limit on contributions, although Pataki himself won't accept more than $50,000 from any individual or group, Stoll said. Pataki's Alexandria-based PAC listed contributions of $395,150 through the end of June. Most of the money was transferred to his federal PAC.
As for the trash battle, Pataki's government press spokesman in Albany, Charles Deister, said, "that's New York City, not New York State."
Virginia's GOP chairman, state Sen. J. Randy Forbes, of Chesapeake, said: "Everybody knows that Governor Pataki is interested in being vice president. This is just evidence of the clout we have in the nominating process," because of the state's early primary, next Feb. 29.
Rinzel, who is seeking the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. (Fairfax), said he would have voted for the bill that formed the centerpiece of the legislative package restricting importation of New York City garbage: a ban on barge traffic on Virginia's rivers that is under challenge in federal court.
"However, Toddy Puller voted against it, and she has taken substantial contributions directly from the waste disposal industry," Rinzel said.
Linda T. "Toddy" Puller (D-Fairfax), Rinzel's opponent, acknowledged accepting money from Browning Ferris Industries in the past, but she said she supports allowing garbage to be shipped by barge "because it takes 1,000 trucks off the Wilson Bridge. I'm for anything that relieves congestion on the Beltway and the bridge and at Springfield."
Woods, who voted for the barge ban, said she doesn't believe it would necessarily add to road traffic because of increased safety and security restrictions on trucks.