Republican Matthew A. Doheny has given 12 times more money to political candidates than his two opponents in the 23rd Congressional District have given combined.
The Watertown portfolio manager has spread $63,108 among 45 recipients in the past nine years, according to state and federal campaign records. Democratic Rep. William L. Owens has given $2,900 to both Republican and Democratic candidates since 1997, and Republican Douglas L. Hoffman has contributed $2,025 to four candidates since 2000.
Of Mr. Doheny's myriad gifts, there's one check — a $2,400 donation to Dierdre K. Scozzafava's congressional campaign last fall — that Mr. Hoffman has used as ammunition in dozens of fundraising appeals and stump speeches this year.
"Why, if you're a true conservative and you believe in the conservative ideals that need to be given back to America to get America back on track, would you give $2,400 to a liberal?" the Saranac Lake accountant asked July 8.
Mr. Hoffman and his team have portrayed Mr. Doheny as cozy with Ms. Scozzafava, a Republican state assemblywoman who supports more moderate social positions such as gay marriage and abortion rights. Mr. Hoffman's June 28 fundraising letter included Mr. Doheny's and Ms. Scozzafava's separate portraits placed inside a giant heart.
Mr. Doheny does not regret the donation last year, saying the check reflected his earlier promise to support the candidate that Republican county chairpersons selected to be their candidate during last year's special election.
But the Watertown resident said he's had no relationship with Ms. Scozzafava since she suspended her campaign last fall and endorsed Mr. Owens, who then won.
"Obviously, it wasn't like I was out campaigning for her or anything; that's pretty much all I did," he said of the donation. "Do I absolutely loathe and detest what Dede's done since then? No. 1, I hate quitters. No. 2, I hate people who don't live up to their word and switch teams. And No. 3, if you're a Republican, act like it and don't endorse (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Andy Cuomo. Give me a break."
Mr. Doheny said talk of that donation only serves as a distraction to the "issues of today."
"What are you going to do to make the district better and help straighten out our country?" he said people are asking instead.
Mr. Owens, registered without party affiliation until last year, said he gave money to candidates he thought were best equipped to handle the office they sought, regardless of party.
The Democrat gave twice to Republican Alfonse M. D'Amato, the year the former U.S. senator was unseated by Charles E. Schumer. He made small contributions to the gubernatorial campaigns of Republican George E. Pataki and Democrat Eliot L. Spitzer.
"I would look at somebody and say: 'Do I agree with them on all the issues? Maybe, maybe not,'" Mr. Owens said Friday. "But I would think of the two people running: Who would be the more honest and more hardworking? I looked for the person who was going to struggle to get the right answer. That's the most important part of the process. ... It's what I demand of myself."
Both Mr. Owens and Mr. Doheny said they gave contributions of less than $200, which federal candidates aren't required to detail on finance reports, to Republican John M. McHugh, the district's previous congressional representative.
"John fits the description of struggling with the facts to come to the right conclusion," Mr. Owens said.
The Plattsburgh resident said his state Assembly representative, Republican Janet L. Duprey, and her Democratic challenger, Rudy Johnson, both fit his self-created criteria. Although he's contributed a little to Mrs. Duprey in the past, Mr. Owens said he'll support and endorse Mr. Johnson this year.
Mr. Doheny has made the lion's share of his donations since becoming engaged locally as a candidate. The Republican has given to district attorney candidates, hopefuls for mayor and county executive, as well as several GOP committees that later endorsed him for the upcoming congressional race.
Alison M. Power, Mr. Doheny's spokesman, said there was no quid pro quo.
"It makes sense that Matt, as a Republican, would support local GOP candidates and the committees that boost them," she said. "He's traveled the district for more than a year now and has gotten to know many, if not all, committee members. And he understands the challenges they face and limited resources they have."
Mr. Owens said he does regret one $250 donation he made.
"Certainly Eliot Spitzer didn't turn out as anticipated," he said. "That wasn't a political issue. That was a personal issue."
Mr. Hoffman did not return an e-mail or a call seeking comment on his donations.