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Judge rules Niagara County must release old financial disclosure forms

Judge rules Niagara County must release old financial disclosure forms

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LOCAL PAUL WOLF

"It's important to be able to see for these part-time legislators, what other income or interests they have," New York Coalition for Open Government President Paul W. Wolf said. "There could be conflicts of interest."

Niagara County won't appeal a judge's ruling that invalidated its law exempting elected officials' financial disclosure forms from disclosure under the state Freedom of Information Law, County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said Tuesday.

State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso ruled Thursday that the 1996 county law violated the state's law on availability of public records.

The county changed its law last year to make current disclosure forms subject to FOIL, but did not make the change retroactive, triggering a lawsuit over the old forms from the New York Coalition for Open Government.

"It's important to be able to see for these part-time legislators, what other income or interests they have," coalition President Paul W. Wolf said. "There could be conflicts of interest."

"We only hold them for five years," Joerg said, so forms older than 2015 no longer exist. "We'll get them out and do the redactions that are required by the statute."

Wolf said the 2019 forms he received last year were not redacted.

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Niagara County won’t release financial disclosure forms filed by county officials before 2019 unless a judge says so, County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said Tuesday. Joerg responded to a lawsuit announced Monday by Paul W. Wolf, president of the Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government, which seeks forms filed from 2013 to 2018. Forms are required from all county

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