Legislative chair requests investigation into controversial Poloncarz voicemail

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Ethics Board has been asked to review the recent conduct of County Executive Mark Poloncarz after a recent, controversial voicemail.

Poloncarz was accused of using bribes in exchange for road work funding after leaving a voicemail for County Legislature Chairman John Mills.

Mills had originally called on Poloncarz to take action in response to deplorable road conditions in the county. Poloncarz’s response can be heard in the sound clip below.

Poloncarz calls this method of exchange “horse trading,” saying “It’s how government works.”

MORE | Click/tap here for more of Poloncarz’s response to the allegation.

The man who requested that the Ethics Board review Poloncarz’s conduct was none other than John Mills.

In a letter, he wrote, “I recently received a call from the County Executive where, by recorded voicemail, I was offered funding for a project in my district in exchange for several legislative favors. I do not believe this was typical legislative negotiations. The funding being offered had already been directed by the Legislature to be used for road reconstruction. This was not a negotiation over basic terms of legislation or budgetary matters as often occur between the Legislative branch and Executive branch of government. I was offered taxpayer dollars to fund a project (Boston Springville Road) in my district in an attempt to influence my judgment…On the issue, the Buffalo News stated, ‘there is a thin line that separates horse trading from bribery.’ I agree, which is why I would like an opinion from the ethics board on this matter. I will not accept that because the perception exists historically this is how government functions, that this is how government should function.”

It is now up to the Ethics Board to decide whether or not a formal investigation into the matter will be launched.

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