Money for districts threatened; practice described as “intimidation and extortion”

Buffalo, NY – New York State’s ‘Three Men in a Room’ method of budget negotiation has been widely criticized by good government groups, as both secretive and inherently corrupt. What many people don’t realize is that leading up to Red/Green Budget Crisis, Erie County Legislative leader Chuck Swanick employed an even more draconian version of that system.

According to news reports from 2005, Swanick told lawmakers in 2003 that they either support the spending plan he negotiated with then County Executive Joel Giambra or forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars in critical funding for the citizens of their districts. Former County Legislator Barry Weinstein described the process as “intimidation and extortion” and former Legislator Denise Marshall noted that “it made my skin crawl.”Endorsed Democrat Mike Amodeo has made ethics reform a priority of his agenda. “Even as Erie County was jumping off a financial cliff, Chuck Swanick was pressuring lawmakers to support an out-of-balance budget,” said Amodeo. “If Mr. Swanick had let his colleagues vote their conscience, the Red/Green Budget Crisis may very well have been averted. Although Albany has been noted for its dysfunction, the corrupt culture that Chuck fostered in Erie County was arguably worse than anything seen at our state capitol. Albany has had enough leaders like Chuck over the years. It’s time for some change.”Amodeo and Swanick will face off in the Thursday, September 13, 2012, Democratic Primary.