In the wake of high-profile arrests emanating from the Buffalo Billion program, district attorney candidate Joseph V. Treanor III said Monday that he will beef up the public integrity unit that the acting district attorney created this year to root out public corruption.
“My office will not require a downstate U.S. attorney to ferret out crimes like bribery, bid-rigging and major election law violations,” Treanor said, referring in part to the charges that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have lodged against a state official, a former state official, a lobbyist and six businessmen in connection to the awarding of major state contracts, including those emanating from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic-turnaround initiative for the Buffalo region.
“I’ve served as an ethics officer, and this latest scandal makes Buffalo look as corrupt as Baghdad,” Treanor said.
Also in recent months, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman secured an indictment against Buffalo political operative G. Steven Pigeon, accusing him of bribery and extortion. The case began when Schneiderman was urged to investigate whether Pigeon violated state election law.
Treanor, playing up his decision to accept no campaign contributions, said that if elected, he will be able to operate without regard to the interests of major donors. But he had few specifics when asked at his news conference how much larger he would make the public integrity unit that acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. created to distinguish himself from predecessor Frank A. Sedita III, or how it would operate.
However, Treanor said it would not rely simply on complaints in order to begin an investigation and would proactively probe potentially criminal circumstances.
Treanor, who spent 28 years as a military lawyer with the Air Force, is an enrolled Conservative from Cheektowaga running on the Conservative, Republican, Independence and Reform party lines. His opponent is John J. Flynn Jr. of the Town of Tonawanda, who says he will not solicit or accept campaign donations from employees of the District Attorney’s Office. Flynn has the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines.