BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Another group is adding their voice to the Buffalo mayor’s race. They call themselves, “Women for Walton” and they are objecting to one of Mayor Byron Brown’s political advertisements.

You have likely seen the ad, Buffalo Police officers saying Democratic Candidate India Walton’s plans for re-allocating funds would lead to 100 of them losing their jobs. The newly-formed women’s group claims it is not like that and the commercial itself might be breaking the law.

They are calling themselves, “Women for Walton,” led by Betty Jean Grant, a former member of the Common Council, county legislator, and an unsuccessful candidate for mayor.

They are challenging Mayor Brown’s attack ad on two fronts.

The group says the ad is wrong and it might constitute a violation of federal election law governing public employees in political ads.

“The Hatch Act says that the executive branch of government, of local, state or a national agency, cannot have employees participating in uniform or on duty while they do a commercial or TV ad,” Betty Jean Grant said.

The women’s group contends Walton’s reallocation of more than $7 million would be accomplished through attrition — as police leave the force they would not be replaced.

But a spokesman for Brown’s campaign said in a statement, “Ms. Walton’s plan to cut $7.5 million from Police would result in 100 fewer officers. Ms. Walton is unqualified and her ideas for police, including no jail time for violent sex offenders, would put every Buffalo resident’s safety at risk.”

The group supports Walton’s plan to look at ways to reduce police overtime.

“I feel sorry for the officers because they are young officers and I don’t think they are aware of how they are being played,” Justine Harris, retired from the Buffalo Police Department said.

But city officials point out, police overtime is clocked by a number of factors, including state law and the police union contract.

Betty Jean Grant told us “Women for Walton” has no plans to file a complaint based on possible violations of the Hatch Act. A spokesman for India Walton told us the same thing, although he did say, others could take action.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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