BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The candidate running against Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in this year’s election has filed an ethics complaint against him.
In the complaint, Chrissy Casilio, a Republican candidate and founder of Casilio Communications, claims the decision regarding a potential Erie County Board of Ethics investigation into Poloncarz was distantly swayed by the County Executive himself.
Last month, News 4 reached out to Erie County about a complaint we received. The complaint pertains to a potential conflict of interest, alleging Poloncarz provided a $60,000 grant to the Italian Cultural Center last year while in a relationship with its executive director.
Peter Anderson, Poloncarz’s press secretary, said the funding was approved by a bipartisan committee. “Erie County’s ethics laws in no way require elected officials to disclose who they are dating but rather are focused on ensuring officials cannot enrich themselves via the use of public funds,” he added.
The board came to their decision not to investigate the grant following advice from the County Attorney’s office, citing county ethics laws focused on spouses and families.
However, according to Casilio, Poloncarz instructed the County Attorney to give the board a legal opinion on the matter before they announced their decision.
“All board members made it explicitly clear that they did not request a legal opinion from the board’s assigned counsel or from anyone else,” Casilio said. “The Board Chairman disclosed he believed the request originated from County Executive Mark Poloncarz. This raises concerns about how the County Executive gained access to the confidential inquiry even before the board discussed the matter.”
Casilio says a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request has been sent to County Attorney Jeremy Toth, seeking all communications between his and Poloncarz’s offices pertaining to the legal opinion.
“The critical question is this: If the County Executive did nothing wrong, why did he feel the need to provide an opinion or attempt to influence the Ethics Board that is investigating his conduct?” Casilio said.
Regarding Casilio’s complaint, the county says it has no comment.