Debbie Preston: A Pawn For Natural Gas Interests?

By Adam Chick

Debbie Preston: A Pawn For Natural Gas Interests?

September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 1:33 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) County Executive Debbie Preston is a pawn for gas interests hiding their identity behind newly created corporate fronts.

That's the charge from a local group called the Vestal Residents for Safe Energy.

But is there any truth to it?

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston has been accused of taking $12,000 in contributions from natural gas drilling companies or people with natural gas interests.

It's something her campaign doesn't deny.

Preston has said all along she supports safe natural gas drilling.

The environmental group says people are creating secret companies or other entities to funnel money into campaign coffers.

A private citizen donated $10,000 to Preston's campaign.

It's from Neil Guiles, who owns Vestal Asphalt.

Guiles was accused of creating those corporate fronts in an attempt to hide the source of campaign funds.

"$5,500 comes from La Nostra properties LLC registered also to Neil Guiles' home address. That corporation was founded so newly it's not even yet registered with the state," said Isaac Silberman-Gorn.

This is not true. La Nostra Properties LLC was filed with the state of New York on December 29th, 2009 when Preston was still the supervisor in the Town of Conklin.

"He created an LLC called Crosshair Consultants. That was within the past year," Silberman-Gorn said.

Also not true. La Nostra registered with the state on June 9th, 2011.

Vestal Residents for Safe Energy challenged both Preston and Tarik Abdelazim to run a "clean money" campaign.

They were asked how they were supposed to raise money for their campaign.

"From individuals. If individuals feel strongly enough to give donations to a candidate then that's the ideal way to run a campaign. So candidates are beholden to their constituents rather than other interests," Silberman-Gorn said.

Individuals like Neil Guiles who personally donated $10,000 to Preston's campaign.

But Silberman-Gorn doesn't think Guiles should be one of those individuals.

"Neil Guiles is an individual who owns a corporation that stands to make millions off of drilling," Silberman-Gorn said.

"Ideally we'd like to see the amount of money he can give as an individual limited," said Silberman-Gorn.

If the members of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy had their way politicians would represent the health and safety of their constituents rather than those of businesses in the gas industry.

However there are residents, like Neil Guiles who would like to see natural gas drilling come to Broome County.

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