Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tension at Today's NY Board of Elections in Wake of IG’s Leak Report

A State Board of Elections spokesman is being blamed for the release of a confidential memorandum that recommended criminal prosecution for the fundraising efforts by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on behalf of Senate Democrats.

The report released blamed Board of Elections BOE) spokesman John Conklin, a Republican appointee on the Board, for the release of the “privileged and confidential” material compiled by Independent Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman related to efforts by de Blasio and his political team on behalf of Democratic candidates in 2014.

Conklin released the report to Daily News Bureau Chief Ken Lovett after he inquired about it.

At Today’s meeting, the BOE Commissioners seemed prepared to discuss the staff’s proposed regulations on what documents are or are not confidential, tightened protocols that had been called for by the Inspector General's (IG) report.

Democratic Co-Chair Doug Kellner also noted that the BOE had taken action in response to BOE member Conklin’s leaking of a document, though Republican Commissioner Greg Peterson objected to any public description of what that action might have been. Neither Conklin nor Democratic Board spokesman Tom Connolly was present for the meeting; one staffer mentioned that Conklin was ill.

When the Commissioners prepared to begin discussion of the proposed confidentiality rules, Independent Enforcement Counsel Sugarman asked to speak. “Commissioners, I was given this proposed policy 24 hours ago,” she said, initially reading a brief prepared statement. “I’ve not had the time or the chance to process the contents, or conduct a legal analysis to determine whether it is appropriate in scope, or consistent with the law that created my independent division or position with the Board of Elections.”

She asked for the any discussion of the proposal to be tabled until her office could do that work. Sugarman also said that the draft was deficient in at least one of its analyses of existing case law.

Peterson and Republican Co-Chair Peter Kosinski proceeded to scold Sugarman, noting that the Board was supposed to respond to the IG by the end of the week. “You’ve had six weeks to do this, let’s be fair,” Kosinski said, referring to when the IG’s report was released. You need to share whatever you have with us.”

Sugarman responded to the Commissioner by noting that the last-minute nature of the staff’s response wasn’t her responsibility. “Your staff was directed to respond to the Inspector General — not me,” she said. “I made this complaint, the Inspector General responded, investigated, determined who leaked that document, and directed your staff — ”.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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