BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A war of words between Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and one of his challengers, Bernie Tolbert, is heating up.
Tolbert wants Brown to reveal details of a lawsuit against the mayor's administration. The demand comes with just a month before the Democratic primary, which both Brown and Tolbert are running in. Tolbert says the lawsuit smells of pay to play politics and wants Brown to release the videotaped deposition the mayor gave last year in federal court.
Brown is being sued by a seasonal streets worker named William George, who claims he's been passed over for a full time job because he hasn't made campaign contributions. News 4 obtained the written deposition in this case.
The mayor was asked, "Do you have an expectation that employees in the mayor's office will contribute to your election campaigns?"
Brown responded, "I do not, some do, some don't."
Asked to clarify who doesn't, Brown added, "I would say many people don't."
He was then asked: "In the mayor's Office, specifically, who do you know who did not contribute to your campaign?"
"I don't know. I don't track it. I don't personally check it," Brown answered. "I don't believe anyone tracks that."
News 4 spoke to the mayor on Thursday, who stated, "It is a frivolous claim and there's not truth to it whatsoever."
But Tolbert also questions why one administrator in the Public Works Department opted to plead the Fifth in this case, and not answer questions.
"That's kind of hard to believe that a city official in the middle of a lawsuit involving retribution and intimidation makes an allegation that he wants to take the Fifth because he fears retribution or retaliation. That's the kind of thing that we have to get to the bottom of," Tolbert said.
Brown responded, "Again...no truth to it in any way, shape or form."
The mayor could not elaborate because this is still a pending lawsuit, which is now a few years old.
Though it is unknown how much his administration is being sued for, it is likely somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 as the worker claims he has missed out on a higher wage and benefits for at least eight years.
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