Invitation To Employees Stirs County Clerks Race

An invitation to an August fundraiser in Cassadaga for the challenger in the race for Chautauqua County clerk that was sent to Chautauqua County employees, including those in the clerk’s office, created a bit of a stir last week during the League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates session at the Fredonia Opera House.

After a question was posed regarding the invitation, LeeAnn Lazarony explained it was done by a volunteer who was interested in politics and helping in her campaign. “She readily admitted that she did that,” Lazarony said. “She didn’t realize that it was a problem. … I felt that it was improper. But if there’s anything really legally improper about that, I’m not sure.”

Lazarony said the e-mail invitations were sent from the volunteer’s personal e-mail and that county e-mail addresses were readily available to the public.

Incumbent Clerk Larry Barmore disagreed.

“Just on the statement that the county e-mail (addresses) are out there for anyone to see, that is not true,” he said. “There’s not a person out here who doesn’t work for the county that can find e-mails for the people who work in my department.”

Barmore, who had a copy of the invitation at the debate, said it made some in his office unsure of how to respond. “Many of them were very, very uncomfortable that they were being invited to a fund-raiser. However, Ms. Lazarony and her daughter, who also is a county employee, do have access to the county e-mail system and they could look up all these county e-mail (addresses).

“I don’t know how (the sender) got the e-mail addresses to the county employees, but she had no way of getting them without (Lazarony and her daughter).”

This is the second issue regarding ethics to arise in the clerk campaign, which will be decided on Tuesday by voters. Two weeks ago, Lazarony noted Barmore was ticketed for driving with dealer plates and placing political signs around Stockton on Oct. 14.

Barmore admitted the infraction, criticizing his opponent’s campaign tactics, saying he was “not going to sink to that level.”