Democrats Accuse Bijoy Datta of Ethical Misconduct

Published 04/22 2014 03:59PM

Updated 04/22 2014 05:24PM

Democrats on the Broome County Legislature are calling for an investigation of a high-ranking member of County Executive Debbie Preston's administration for allegedly coercing county appointees to volunteer for Preston's re-election campaign.

Legislators Dan Reynolds, Jason Garnar, Tony Fiala and Colleen McCabe held a news conference at Democratic headquarters today. They claim Deputy County Executive and Broome County Republican Chairman Bijoy Datta broke election law when he sent emails to 12 county employees requiring them to assist with gathering petition signatures during Republican Preston's 2012 campaign.

In the emails, Datta refers to the campaign work as mandatory and not optional. Datta even writes "don't make me hound you."

The Democrats say the orders carry an implied threat that the appointed employees might lose their jobs if they don't participate in the political activity. The legislators plan to send letters to the New York State Attorney General and the State Board of Elections requesting an investigation.

"County workers should be working on county business and county business alone. They shouldn't be harassed, they shouldn't be bullied into doing political type of work. We really believe that that's what happened here," said Jason Garnar.

The Democrats also plan to ask the Broome County Ethics Board to review the matter. They are critical of Preston and the other Deputy Executive John Bernardo for not putting a stop to the practice when they were copied on the emails.

Datta released a statement acknowledging that he used language that was too strong in the personal emails he sent two years ago.

However, he insists that he's always held himself to high ethical and professional standards and that he looks forward to a positive outcome from any inquiries that may take place.

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