The claims of a State Senate staffer who said she was fired for supporting Republican David Bellavia over endorsed candidate Chris Collins in the 27th Congressional District primary are now prompting a torrent of Democratic criticism too.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan on Tuesday called on Collins to explain any role he might have in the May dismissal of Michelle McCullough, claiming reports of "intimidation" raise questions about how he will conduct his campaign.
Lenihan said that because McCullough claims she was fired by State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, R-Williamsville, for supporting Collins opponent Bellavia, more explanations are needed.
"The public deserves to know if Collins played a direct role with Ranzenhofer in costing this public servant her job," Lenihan said. "The time has come for both Collins and Ranzenhofer to come clean and explain why an otherwise good employee was suddenly let go after she circulated petitions for Collins’ opponent."
The Collins campaign declined to comment on the Lenihan claim.
The Buffalo News reported Tuesday that McCullough filed a formal ethics complaint against Ranzenhofer, alleging the senator "coerced" his staff to gather ballot petitions for Collins.
"He has obstructed the fair and due process of elections and violated not only the integrity of his staff but the public trust," McCulloch said in a filing with the agency that has jurisdiction over legislative ethics matters.
—Robert J. McCarthy