Ceretto: ‘I do not abuse my office’

johnceretto

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Assembelyman John Ceretto used his district office in Niagara County for campaign purposes. At least, that’s the charge from his opponent, Angelo Morinello.

If it’s true it would be a violation of state ethics laws.
But Ceretto says the so called proof his opponent has — is politics at its worst, in the 11th hour of what has already been a contentious campaign for the 145th district.
 
On Wednesday we told you about the allegations from Angelo Morinello that longtime Niagara County politician John Ceretto was using his district office to discuss upcoming campaign strategies.
News 4 obtained exclusively a copy of Ceretto’s date book from the week in question.
 
Morinello says his opponent is specifically in violation of Public Officer’s law 74, which states an official “cannot secure privileges, including to others of the property, services or other resources of the state — like his campaign office —  for private business or other compensated non-governmental purposes.”
Ceretto doesn’t deny the meeting between he and Grand Island Democratic Chairman Jim Sharpe took place. But he says there’s a simple explanation.
 

“He reached out to our office, and that staffer scheduled a meeting, put it on my calendar that we were meeting with him,” Ceretto said. “And the reason for that meeting was about a business that was in Grand Island that needed our help.”

 
Notes taken during that meeting by a former member of Ceretto’s staff show the conversation included plenty of political talk. But Ceretto is doubtful.
 

“I’ve never seen those notes,” he said. “I don’t know if they were taken then, or if they were created yesterday.”

 
Morinello released a statement Friday about the matter, saying: “It has become more and more apparent that Assemblyman Ceretto engaged in and condoned unethical activities in his government office. Mr. Ceretto is going to great lengths to try and blame others for his own actions.”
 
Ceretto says his opponent is trying to distract voters.
 

“What we’re talking about is pure politics from my opponent,” Ceretto said. “Quite frankly what he’s doing is taking the game off where we’re not focusing on issues.”

 

“As a judge, he’s trying to prosecute me rather than stick to the issues, the real issues of making this area better,” Ceretto said.

“I do not abuse my office,” Ceretto said. “What I do is make this place, and our area better, because this is my home.”

Sharpe, who is also the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce vice president, confirmed last fall’s meeting was strictly business. He and Ceretto have known each other for more than two decades. He said if politics was discussed, it certainly had nothing to do with election planning.

“Politics may have come up,” Sharpe said Friday. “But there was never any strategizing.”
Representatives from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission said this week they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.

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