LEWISTON – Despite an FBI investigation, Supervisor Steven L. Reiter said Wednesday he will not give up on his bid for re-election this year.
“Absolutely not,” Reiter said. “I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong.”
Niagara County Republican Chairman Scott P. Kiedrowski backed him up, saying, “Steve’s always been a great candidate and a great supervisor. People in Lewiston know he’s a good guy, and I have no doubt he can be re-elected.”
But political sources said the Republican Party has been doing some polling about Reiter among Lewiston voters. According to one person who received the pollsters’ phone call, the questions included, “Would you vote for Steve Reiter if he got arrested between now and the election?”
The Buffalo News reported June 8 that Reiter had been interviewed by the FBI over his admitted authorization of the use of town equipment and personnel at the Seneca Nation’s Hickory Stick Golf Course in Lewiston.
Reiter, who was highway superintendent before becoming supervisor two years ago, gave The News an interview in which he said he was quizzed by an FBI agent and an assistant state attorney general June 6 about unbilled help to the Senecas.
In one instance, Reiter admitted sending a town worker who had SCUBA certification to a pond on the golf course to hook up a tow line to a trailer that had fallen into the water. He also sent a town truck to salt the driveway to the Hickory Stick clubhouse on two winter occasions.
“I thought it was the neighborly thing to do,” he said.
A state audit of the town two years ago said there wasn’t enough control over the town’s fuel pumps, and the current highway superintendent, Douglas A. Janese, said the FBI asked him about the pumps but told him no one who works there now was a target of the probe.
The source who took the poll said he was asked, “If Reiter took gas for non-town purchases, would you consider that stealing?”
Kiedrowski wouldn’t say whether the GOP was behind the polling.
“There’s a lot of important races in Lewiston. I’m not surprised that there’s some polling going on,” he said.
“I know they’ve done polls on me, both sides,” Reiter said.
The News learned that for a time after the disclosure of the probe, GOP committeemen stopped circulating his nominating petitions, but that seems to have resumed.
The county Democratic Party got wind of the polling, too.
It issued a news release saying the pollsters wanted to know voters’ opinions of current Councilmen Ernest C. Palmer and Michael J. Marra; Village of Lewiston Trustee Dennis Brochey, who is Reiter’s prospective Democratic opponent for supervisor; GOP Assemblyman John D. Ceretto; former Democratic Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte; and twice-defeated Democratic State Senate candidate Amy Hope Witryol.
“Whoever is behind this polling is running scared and attempting to blur the issues,” county Democratic Chairman Nicholas J. Forster said. “What they should be asking Lewiston residents is, wouldn’t they like clean and open government for a change, instead of the behind-closed-doors, good-old-boy network that now runs the town?”