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It’s Sedita who needs to restore public trust

This June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a campaign finance reform bill with the slogan “restore public trust.” To me, District Attorney Frank Sedita represents that lack of public trust.

I do not trust Sedita not just because of his in-house campaign fundraiser and its bizarre timing, which is enough, but also because of his incomplete and paradoxical responses to these “pay-to-play” allegations.

He did not lead a worthwhile investigation to ensure quality control within his organization; he would have told us if he did. He did not explain how he believes his method, even if legal, was appropriate. Instead, he claimed ignorance and innocence – two incompatible responses. He condescendingly leaned on his appointment to the 25-member Moreland Commission as “proof” we need look no further.

Well, Sedita’s appointment to the DA-heavy commission is simple math. It makes sense to include the Erie County DA, whoever he is, based on population alone. The appointment, therefore, was not an endorsement of Sedita’s ethics, as he inferred, only the position he holds.

His subordinates faced a hostile work environment when they were “invited” to discuss the office, told they could be replaced, then asked for financial proof they support their boss. They knew their donation, or failure to donate, would be recorded and reported, and the implications of each. The proof – donations 20 times higher, and from 100 of 106 employees.

Since January, Sheriff Lee Baca of Los Angeles has not taken donations from employees for this very reason. Sedita should follow Baca’s lead and never fund-raise from subordinates again. He should also no longer use the commission as a personal shield. Finally, the commission should investigate the legality of his techniques. It is time to follow through on that June promise, and “restore public trust.”

Todd Chard

Tonawanda