Former Erie County Democratic Party Chairman, G. Steven Pigeon has, since his days as the top local Dem, shifted much of his attention to the national scene. As a political consultant and fund raiser, Pigeon was involved in numerous campaigns this past campaign season, mostly waged outside WNY.
In fact, unless one gives credence to rumors that Pigeon was behind the scenes helping Tom Reynolds and Antoine Thompson, the only local race Pigeon worked on this season was for long- time friend, Gary Parenti, in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Francine Delmonte in the 138th assembly district.
On the national level, as Democrats took control of Congress, Pigeon was active on two successful US Senate races: Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Kate McCaskill of Missouri. By the way, Missouri is one of Pigeon’s strongholds. It was in St Louis, where Pigeon was born and bred to politics (his uncles, Don Gralike, former State Senator, and president of IBEW local #1, and State Supreme Court Judge, Joe Simeone, both employed Pigeon as a youngster in their campaigns).
And, in Missouri, this year, Pigeon celebrated two (of four) State Representative campaign victories for his Democrat candidates: Nancy Hagen (135th) lost; 44%.; Charley Norr, (137th) won; 56%; Sara Lampe (138th) won; 58%.; Jamie Schoolcraft (139th) lost; 43% Norr’s win was impressive since the contest was for an open seat in mainly Republican Green County.
Pigeon is also working with close friend and fellow Missourian, Dick Gephardt, senior counsel of Global Law Firm DLA Piper, and former majority leader of the US House of Representatives on several international investment banking initiatives.
Both in and out of Missouri, Pigeon works (often behind the scenes) with a lot of influential people. Not long ago, he introduced Tom Golisano to Bill Clinton, who, with Pigeon’s assistance, promptly got together to fund and hold the Clinton Global Initiatives, held in NYC, ending this past September; Golisano and Pigeon also paired with former astronaut and US Senator, John Glenn and General Wesley Clark on developing strategies for the potential implementation of several key objectives of Clinton’s Initiatives. Interestingly, actress Darryl Hannah, a participant at the initiative, also joined Pigeon and co. at several of these meetings.
And, speaking of Clinton, Pigeon maintains close ties with both Bill and Hillary. (He was former Executive Assistant, 1992-94, for Clinton’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala). And also with Shalala who is now the President of the University of Miami.
Beyond national politics, Pigeon has begun to broaden his field of endeavor to the international. In January, with Republican consultant Roger Stone, Pigeon goes to the Ukraine to work on several Parliamentary campaigns. Last year, the two helped elect the present Mayor of Kiev, Leonid Chernovetskyi.
Nevertheless, while much of his activities are outside WNY, Pigeon still maintains a local presence. He is counsel for the WNY law firm of Underberg and Kessler, which represents the Buffalo Sabres (Pigeon is often credited with helping to enlist and advising Golisano on the advisability of buying the Sabres which helped keep the team in town.) and the 200-plus local convenience-store chain, Wilson Farms, the latter owned by the family of good friend, former State Senator, Anthony Nanula.
Pigeon’s firm also represents several international clients with offices in WNY.
In nearby Niagara Falls, he has several prominent clients, and has been mentioned in the local weekly tabloid, the Niagara Falls Reporter as one of the key power brokers there. And Pigeon was instrumental in arranging Frank Parlato’s purchase of the former Occidental Headquarters’ Building, aka the “Flashcube,” after the failed “Aqua Falls” underground aquarium left nothing but a vacant building, and a weed-filled, one acre, 30 foot deep, fenced hole, right next to the Niagara Falls State Park. With Pigeon’s aid, Parlato filled the hole and converted the vacant building into the largest tourist center on the NY side of the Falls.
In addition to politics and law, Pigeon has, in recent years, become increasingly active in real estate funding and has commercial development projects presently underway in Arizona and Maine.
An email response to the above article
"Should Pigeon and Lenihan bury the hatchet? By A DEMOCRAT (who knows them both)
Dear, Mr. Illuzzi; After reading your article on Steve Pigeon, I couldn’t help but conclude that Pigeon, and Democrat Chairman Len Lenihan ought to get together. After all, we are a Democratic county, and Dems control Albany (governor and assembly) and both houses of Congress. It would be a stupid shame then if two of the best- connected men in our area (Pigeon is literally an international emissary for WNY) and Lenihan is, generally speaking, a “big-tent” conciliator) couldn’t take advantage of this new “Democrat – rising” scenario and find something to agree on to help the community. Instead, what happens among Democrats (around these parts) is they nurse old grudges and, behind the scenes, sabotage one another. (in WNY politics, the hostilities often outlive the faint memory of what caused the grudge in the first place).
But suppose, if political distrust were set aside, and world-giants like Golisano and Clinton and others in the Pigeon circle could be made to awaken to a more genuine interest in the area. Suppose, instead of distrusting an initiative a Golisano/Pigeon might have – Lenihan could embrace ideas he would otherwise support – coming from anyone other than Pigeon. Is there something this community could partner with Ukraine? How about international investment banking? Are there people allied with Lenihan who could do something in tandem with a power broker (with deep Democrat idealism) to make something happen here– but would not - out of respect (?) for Lenihan’s feud with Pigeon?
Consequently, the so-called “official” party has to shy away from one of the few local democrats with national clout. And Pigeon takes big deals to Arizona or Maine. And Rochester and New York City. As a Democrat, who is, and has been active with the party since the Crangle days, I say bring him back into our camp. Unite the party.
If true Democrats must have a greater interest in community welfare than personal political fortunes, than why shouldn’t Pigeon promise not to sabotage Lenihan (and vice versa) and find one damn project to work on that does not involve who controls patronage jobs or endorsements, but rather something we need locally- and join their separate and diverse friends together to accomplish it. That’s what Democrats do, and, if you’ll pardon me for saying this: it is what distinguishes them from Republicans.
Illuzzi's comments to the email:
It has been my understanding that Len would sit down with Steve any time, any where, any place. I don't believe that has changed.