Sunday, August 26, 2012


Rochester, N.Y. – Year after year, more than 200 employees of Monroe County laid bare details of their personal finances to the county Board of Ethics in an effort to flag potential conflicts with their official duties.

County law requires elected officials and the highest-paid county workers to disclose, among other things, whether they or their spouses hold seats on boards of companies or organizations, have corporate affiliations and real estate holdings, or have an interest in companies that did business with the county or a county agency.

But a review of the disclosure forms might be more revealing for what they don’t say rather than what they report. When politicians omit details from the forms it can mean that there is a serious potential ethics violation at hand. Also, it should be noted that Monroe County uses a heavy hand to redact (or blackout) any potential information certain officials would consider troublesome—backed by New York State law.

Some time ago, with little fanfare, the Democrat and Chronicle examined disclosures for 60 high-ranking officials in county government — elected officials and top appointees — and found several instances in which they reported holding other jobs but not the income they earned.

It is particularly interesting to know how a top government operative’s outside dealings may conflict with his or her official county duties, including overlapping work schedules or potential influence over county contracts. We would argue that this information should be a matter of public record if you want to serve our community.

County Executive and Congressional candidate (NY25) Maggie Brooks, by far the most visible and influential official required to file, did not list her Webster home or the Florida condominium she and her husband owned. Some of her answers were so obviously incorrect that most experts said they should have been corrected or warranted further inquiry. Why the omissions? What are you hiding, Maggie Brooks?

She also didn’t tell us that she sold a Florida condo in December of 2011 and bought another for $280,000, financed by a $224,000 mortgage, according to other public records.

In her incomplete ethics disclosure form, Brooks reported owning a portfolio of 23 different mutual funds, but the redactions made it impossible to discern how much she has invested and with whom.

If she is a candidate for Congress, shouldn’t voters have some idea of what corporations and investments she has personally profited from—especially if and when she votes for tax breaks for these companies who stand to profit off her motive?

If Maggie Brooks can appoint the Ethics Board and County officials can legally redact any information they deem necessary, why have a Board of Ethics at all? And, it seems the Brooks campaign is going to great lengths to hide her personal investments under the guise of personal privacy. We already know, through campaign filings thank god,  that Maggie has graciously accepted campaign donations from the most extreme elements of the right wing-- and we know that she is now beholden to them. That is a given.

In any event-- Sorry Maggie, there are minimum requirements to run for public office and one of them is to be truthful when filling out ethics forms. You really dropped the ball here. This information should not be off limits and yes-- citizens have a right to know. This type of behavior hardly matches the ethical standards of the voters of Monroe County you want to represent in Congress— and frankly, it highlights your reputation as a deceptive, nontransparent, cunning political operative.

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