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Bipartisan fundraiser draws protests

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

People attending a fundraiser for Rep. Brian Higgins Monday night walked a gantlet of opponents to the South Buffalo Democrat, including Carl Paladino.

The former and potentially future gubernatorial candidate was outside the Buffalo History Museum in opposition because the fundraiser was being sponsored by two prominent Republican fundraisers: businessman Patrick Lee and Anthony Gioia, a former ambassador to Malta.

Gioia says Higgins is being helped because of his work on local projects like the waterfront, not because he agrees with him on national issues.

Paladino says Gioia and Lee are "RINOs" or Republicans In Name Only.

Paladino says he was protesting "to tell the community that it's not right that people who want to identify themselves with the Republican Party, who we refer to as RINOs, would lend such financial support to people such as Brian Higgins who, if you remember, was one of the first people out there behind Nancy Pelosi with Obamacare."

Paladino is running a loud effort against Republican leaders in the State Legislature as RINOs and wants someone running against Governor Cuomo in November who has Republican values.

Meanwhile, businessman Jim Renda says he was at the event because the congressman has been good for the area.

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news
A variety of protesters awaited those attending the event at the Buffalo History Museum.

"He (Higgins) does a great job for the area. He has done a lot helping my company succeed. So, I'm here to support him."

Gioia has said Paladino has been to many Republican fundraisers in the past and received money from him during the gubernatorial run against Cuomo in 2010.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.