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Ranzenhofer seeks probe over calls to voters

A "celebrity voice impression" of County Executive Joel A. Giambra phoned to Clarence-area voters over the weekend has prompted Legislator Michael H. Ranzenhofer to seek a criminal investigation by the FBI.

Ranzenhofer complained to reporters in County Hall this morning that calls allegedly placed by Giambra identifying Ranzenhofer as his candidate are "deceptive and fraudulent."

He said the calls were traced by caller ID to the Akron headquarters of Save American Jobs, a political action committee headed by industrialist Jack Davis.

Though both Ranzenhofer and Giambra are Republicans, the county executive has fallen to all time lows in the polls, prompting Ranzenhofer to bristle at the alleged Giambra connection. He played the tape for reporters today, revealing a supposed Giambra endorsement indicating "Erie County would not be in the shape it is today without Mike Ranzenhofer."

Davis spokesman Curtis Ellis acknowledged the calls originated from the Save American Jobs office on behalf of John Schrock, who is opposing Ranzenhofer in Tuesday's Republican primary and is the endorsed Democratic candidate in the general election.

He declined to comment when asked if his voice was heard on the tape, but said the calls were placed after Ranzenhofer mailed fliers throughout the district claiming Schrock was supported by Democrats and Legislature Chairman George A. Holt Jr.

Ellis disputed Ranzenhofer's claims that Schrock was "handpicked" by Democratic officials. He added he had no knowledge of Ranzenhofer's contention that Schrock's designating petitions were circulated by Democratic staffers in the County Legislature.

Ellis also pointed out the messages contain a "clear disclaimer" at their end indicating they constitute a celebrity impersonation. But Ranzenhofer played a tape demonstrating that the disclaimer was read "very, very quickly," adding many of his constituents believe the message stemmed from Giambra.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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