ALBANY — The campaign for Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro called pay-to-play allegations by Dutchess County legislators “pathetic and groundless” Wednesday.
Eight of 11 Democratic Dutchess County lawmakers submitted a formal complaint to the state Attorney General’s Office and Joint Commission on Public Ethics on Oct. 5, calling on the state to investigate possible ethics violations against Molinaro, who is the Dutchess county executive.
The allegations surround Molinaro’s wife, Corrine Adams, who was awarded a job at the architectural firm Tinkelman Bros. Development Corp., of Poughkeepsie, which was awarded county contracts and tax breaks. The company made donations totaling $6,800 to Molinaro from 2006-2018, according to the complaint.
Tinkelman reported received $227,000 in tax breaks in June 2015 after the county approved a project awarded to Tinkleman Architecture.
Tinkelman “immediately after” created a new “Director of Marketing” position and hired the county executive’s then-girlfriend to fill the job at an annual salary of $26,500, according to the complaint. This information was not listed on Molinaro’s financial disclosure forms, according to the legislators.
“Nonetheless, County Executive Molinaro’s financial disclosure statements filed for 2015 and 2016 never identified his relationship with Tinkleman or his wife’s employment with that company that he personally was involved in awarding at least one county contract,” according to a letter submitted to the state Attorney General’s office.
It was discovered that Molinaro’s wife works for Tinkelman after Molinaro released one year of his tax returns as required of political office, and his wife’s income and employer were listed on the return, according to the legislators.
“Our hope in the caucus is that these allegations will be explored promptly and thoroughly so we can see what an investigation might or might not reveal,” Dutchess County Legislator Nick Page said. “I don’t want to comment beyond that at this point.”
“If the allegations that led to this complaint are true, I don’t know that the county executive has a sense of ethics and ethical standards that are what the voters in Dutchess County want in the way of leadership,” Dutchess County Legislator Frits Zernike said. The state Attorney General’s Office and Joint Commission on Public Ethics declined to comment on Wednesday.
“By law, I cannot comment on anything that is or may be an investigative matter before the Commission,” said Walter McClure, director of communications and public information officer.
Katy Delgado, a spokeswoman for the Molinaro campaign, called the allegations “pathetic and groundless.”
“Twenty-seven days before an election, the most corrupt governor in New York history engineers a fake political hit against a modest local businessman and talented, decent woman using Dutchess County Democrats. Andrew Cuomo is even uglier and more morally corrupt than we thought.”
The allegations drew fury from some Republicans who said Cuomo has his own allegations of corruption to address.
“The pervasive culture of corruption that has defined Gov. Cuomo’s term in office has been toxic and costly to New Yorkers,” Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, said in a statement. “For the governor’s political allies to peddle a story in an effort to deflect from Mr. Cuomo’s inability or unwillingness to own up to the very corruption under his watch is shameful and pathetic.”
U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, agreed.
“This is a manufactured scandal, promoted by supporters of Gov. Cuomo,” Faso said in a statement. “Gov. Cuomo is the last person who should be making ethical allegations, given the convictions for corruption of some of his closest aides and advisors.”
Dani Lever, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the allegations against Molinaro need to be taken seriously.
“Marc’s campaign is a joke, but these allegations are serious and nobody knows more about the rampant pay to play politics in the Molinaro administration than members of the Dutchess County Legislature,” Lever said. “It is no surprise that John Faso is coming to the defense of Trump mini-me Molinaro – he has done nothing but aid and abet Donald Trump in his sabotage of the people of New York.”
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