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GOP Smear Campaign Backfires As Deputy Election Aide Arrested

Suspended Deputy Election Commissioner Michael Carney (with beer in hand).

Over the last several months, the Niagara Falls Reporter has been reporting on the Niagara County GOP’s campaign against newly appointed Democratic Election Commissioner Lora Allen for hiring her predecessor, Nancy Smith, to work as her deputy until Smith retired this month.

The legislative majority went so far as to pass a resolution condemning Allen for selecting Smith, a long-time civil servant and appointed official, in an attempt to deny Smith the opportunity to collect health care benefits upon her retirement.

Anonymous robocalls were made to residents in the districts of two Democratic county legislators, Jason Zona and Dennis Virtuoso, spreading the false information that Zona and Virtuoso were responsible for aiding the 54-year old Smith in staying until she reached age 55 - which, the robocall said, cost local taxpayers.

Zona, Virtuoso, or any elected official, has no voice in hiring or firing employees at the Election Commission. By law, the elections commissioner alone has that authority for the simple reason that elected officials should not be able to hire and fire the people who count the votes.

Ironically, as Republicans sought to tarnish Democrats through the actions of their Deputy Elections Commissioner, last week, the Republican's Deputy Election Commissioner, Michael P. Carney, was arrested for speeding and driving while intoxicated in North Tonawanda and placed on unpaid leave by Republican Election Commissioner Mary Ann Casamento.

He had a blood alcohol count of slightly more than 0.08 percent when he was stopped at 10:41 p. m. last Thursday. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, it would take a 170-pound man consuming four typical drinks on an empty stomach an hour to reach 0.08 percent alcohol concentration.

Carney, a long-time recipient of appointed government positions was appointed clerk of the county legislature in 2004. In 2006, he was appointed deputy treasurer. In 2007 he announced that he was resigning as deputy treasurer to become director of grants at NCCC.

Eleven months later, he announced that NCCC “wasn’t a good fit,” and resigned. He then landed a job as the deputy director of the Western New York State Senate Office, after State Sen. George Maziarz's aide, Glenn Aronow, left the Buffalo office following a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him.

In her lawsuit, Aronow's accuser claimed that when Carney came to work there, he would call Aronow and talk to him on the phone in front of her.

In 2009, Carney secured his position at the Board of Elections where he technically still works, pending the review by human resources of his DWI arrest.

"I am profoundly sorry for my actions,” Carney wrote in a statement released to the press. “The fact is 19 years ago I faced the reality that I have a problem with alcohol and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. I did not have a drink for more than 15 years and attended meetings regularly. Under the misguided notion that I would be able to control my drinking, I began to reintroduce alcohol into my life.

"The sad fact is, I was never in control. Last night is a grievous error and a time to acknowledge I need help. … I am using this time to enter alcohol rehabilitation. I am sorry to my wife and family for the embarrassment this causes and to the community for my poor judgment and decision."




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Apr23, 2013