In what the newspaper dubbed "a highly unusual arrangement," the Paladino campaign directed tens of thousands of dollars to Andrew Miller, an operative who was then serving as a key staffer for the rival gubernatorial campaign of Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis.
ALBANY — One candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, is a staunch conservative and a self-styled Tea Party activist who is mounting a serious challenge for the Republican nomination.
Another, Kristin Davis, is a former Manhattan madam and a convicted felon trying to run on her own party line who promises to legalize marijuana and prostitution.
So why do these two candidates on opposite ends of the political spectrum have so much campaign DNA in common?
There are actually a myriad of overlapping ties between the two campaigns, and they all can be traced back to one man: Roger J. Stone Jr., the flamboyant Republican operative who has a large tattoo of Richard Nixon’s head on his back.
Mr. Stone is working pro bono as Ms. Davis’s campaign strategist, while his longtime assistant, Diane Thorne, is working as Mr. Paladino’s scheduler. Ms. Thorne’s stepson is Andrew Miller, Ms. Davis’s campaign manager. And while working pro bono for Ms. Davis, Mr. Miller was paid nearly $17,000 by the Paladino campaign in the first half of the year, a highly unusual arrangement.
Further, Mr. Paladino hired his campaign manager, Michael Caputo, and his pollster, Tony Fabrizio, at Mr. Stone’s recommendation — Mr. Caputo is a longtime protégé of Mr. Stone who once served as his driver.
Mr. Stone himself has been boosting Mr. Paladino behind the scenes while officially advising Ms. Davis.
“It’s pretty simple; I made an antecedent commitment to help Kristin Davis, but she’s a protest candidate,” Mr. Stone said in an interview. “Paladino on the other hand has a chance to be elected governor, and I’d like to see him win. I support him, and I make no bones about that.”
Mr. Paladino and his campaign have drawn increasing scrutiny as he has emerged as a surprisingly strong contender for the Republican nomination, in part because of the weakness of the establishment candidate, the former Congressman Rick A. Lazio. Mr. Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo developer, has promised to spend $10 million on his campaign; Mr. Lazio struggles with fund-raising and had less than $700,000 on hand when he reported his campaign finances in mid-July.
Mr. Paladino’s connection to Mr. Stone reinforces the view that Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, the Democratic nominee, could be in for a rougher fight in the general election if he is facing Mr. Paladino.
Certainly, he is a polarizing candidate, having already been caught up in a controversy over pornographic and racially charged e-mails he forwarded to friends and business associates.
Mr. Stone, 57, has been a piratical political figure for decades, going back to his work as a teenager for Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President. In the disputed 2000 presidential election, he was an organizer of the so-called Brooks Brothers Riot, when hundreds of Republican activists stormed a county election office in Miami during the vote recount.