FREEDOM, NY – The democrat running for the local New York State Senate seat that was vacated by Sen. Cathy Young earlier this year is again criticizing his Republican counterpart.
Cattaruagus County Democrat Austin Morgan criticized Republican opponent George Borrello on Friday for what he calls an ethical lapse and possible campaign finance violation.
The charges are in regards to a fundraiser held at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel on Sept. 12.
Morgan contends that when Borrello accepted and attended a campaign fundraiser organized and hosted by David Hart and Peter Krog, the developers who received state funds and county tax-breaks to build the hotel, he breached Chautauqua County ethics rules and potentially election law.
“This fundraiser is unethical at best and a severe campaign finance violation at worst. I will be filing a complaint with Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement counsel for campaign finance at the New York State Board of Elections. I will also be requesting that the Chautauqua County Board of Ethics investigate Mr. Borrello’s misdeeds and take appropriate action in accordance with the law and their authority,” Morgan said.
Borrello is currently the Chautauqua County executive and also sat on the county’s Industrial Development Agency board of directors prior to becoming county executive at the start of 2018. The County IDA board unanimously approved a tax abatement deal with the hotel in 2016. Last year the abatement plan resulted in the hotel being exempt from paying $970,000 in state and local sales taxes.
According to a release sent out by Morgan’s campaign, Chautauqua County’s code of ethics states that no county employee may, “…solicit any gift, or accept or receive any gift having a value of seventy-five dollars ($75.00) or more per year from any Person, other than a Family member, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, who the County officer or employee knows is considering or has had any transactions with the county that involves any discretionary act by the County officer or employee.”
Morgan said the fundraiser is unethical at best and a severe campaign finance violation at worst. He said he plans to file a complaint with the New York State Board of Elections and will also request the County Board of Ethics investigate Borrello and take any appropriate action in accordance with the law and their authority.
“David Hart and Peter Krog, the developers of Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, are returning the favor of county money used to finance the Chautauqua Lake destination by providing a multi-thousand-dollar party for my opponent in return for taxpayer dollars,” Morgan said. “It’s obvious that the County Executive would not change the culture of corrupt, unethical behavior that has morally bankrupted Albany for years.”
On Friday WRFA reached out to Borrello to respond to the charges made by Morgan.
“This is simply ridiculous. This is a baseless attack that doesn’t warrant a response. I will continue to focus on the issues that are important to the people of the 57th senate district. I will stand up for the people of the district like I have for the people of Chautauqua County. I will continue to push back against radical policies coming out of Albany,” Borrello said.
Borrello and Morgan are the only two candidates who will appear on the ballot for the special election to fill Young’s vacated Senate seat. The special election will be held on Election Day, Nov. 5.