Rochester, NY – Democratic candidates for Monroe County office this morning called for an Office of Public Integrity (OPI) investigation into the use of taxpayer funds by Republican members of the Monroe County Legislature to campaign for re-election and pledged to institute a moratorium on taxpayer funded mailings in the months leading up to Election Day if elected into office.
At issue are recent letters sent to county voters from members of the legislature on official county letterhead, thanking them for registering to vote, but also featuring campaign-like rhetoric. It is almost certain that government staff and resources were used to produce the letters. In one instance, a letter from Legislature President Joe Carbone was sent to a voter who registered four months ago, which implies that potentially thousands of such letters have likely been sent out by Carbone and others on the taxpayer’s dime. As of his last campaign finance disclosure, Carbone reported having over $23,000 in his campaign war chest.
In highlighting this abuse of taxpayer resources, County Executive candidate Adam Bello called for an investigation into any coordination between the County Legislature Majority office, Monroe County Republican Committee, and Monroe County Board of Elections to produce this strategic taxpayer-funded campaign propaganda.
“For too long, Cheryl Dinolfo and the County Legislature Majority have used taxpayer resources to advance their own political campaigns,” said Bello. “At a time when we can’t afford to fully fund early intervention services for our children and are stripping retired sheriff deputies of their health care benefits, it is reprehensible to think that county tax dollars are being spent in such a manner. It is an insult to every taxpayer in Monroe County.”
Bello, members of the Democratic County Legislature caucus, and other Democratic candidates for the legislature pledged that they would implement a series of ethics reforms centered on getting politics out of the county office building once elected. These include:
• A ninety-day ban on use of taxpayer funded mailing and taxpayer-funded media productions within Election Day if they are used to promote an incumbent running for re- election; and
• A clear policy on the linkage between government and campaign social media
accounts – a direct response to the county parks twitter account being caught last year retweeting political matters.
“This is the basics of good government,” Bello concluded. “And if I have the honor of being your next County Executive, my administration will follow through on these important ethics reforms.”