Quantcast
Skip to main content
Friday, November 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Ranzenhofer says 3K people have signed petition against public assistance cards being used for beer, smokes

post by Howard Owens in michael ranzenhofer

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced today that his new petition drive, encouraging the State Assembly to pass the Public Assistance Integrity Act, has garnered more than 3,300 signatures since launching the campaign one week ago.

“Thousands of Western New York residents have added their voice to mine in calling on the State Assembly to pass a bill that protects our tax dollars,” Ranzenhofer said. “We are sending a powerful message to the State Assembly: a fraud prevention measure is needed to prohibit welfare benefits from being spent on alcohol, cigarettes and other non-essential items.”

Senator Ranzenhofer launched the online petition on Oct. 25. 

“I hope that residents will consider adding their voice to the thousands who have already expressed their support for passing the Public Assistance Integrity Act. It is not too late to sign my online petition, and I encourage residents to join our campaign to protect taxpayer dollars,” Ranzenhofer said.

Residents can still sign the petition by visiting ranzenhofer.nysenate.gov.

The Public Assistance Integrity Act (S.966) would prohibit using EBT cards for tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, and ATM cash withdrawals at liquor stores and casinos.  Senator Ranzenhofer is a co-sponsor of the legislation. The bill passed the State Senate on June 18. The State Assembly has not taken action on the bill.

EBT cards work like a debit card for public assistance recipients, containing both a Food Stamp and Cash Assistance component. Strict regulations already guide what can be purchased for Food Stamps. Cash assistance is intended to pay for items not covered by Food Stamps, such as soap, toothpaste, school supplies and toiletries. Currently, there are no restrictions on the use of Cash Assistance.

Federal aid received by New York may be at risk if the State Assembly does not pass the bill. The federal government has mandated that states implement a fraud prevention system by February 2014. If New York State does not act accordingly, the Federal government will penalize the State by cutting federal funding for Cash Assistance by 5 percent or $120 million.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

Ranzenhofer's statement on the state mandating $1 million in new county expense at jail

post by Howard Owens in Genesee County Jail, michael ranzenhofer

We requested a statement from Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer about the unelected NYS Corrections Commission requiring Genesee County to add $1 million annually to the county budget to fund 10 more jail guards.

Here's Sen. Ranzenhofer's statement:

I have recently had an opportunity to speak with Genesee County Officials about the Commission’s report concerning the county jail. Our office will be happy to work with the Sheriff’s Office and members of the Genesee County Legislature in the event they believe we can be of assistance to them.

Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 8:03 am

Ranzenhofer's bill to reform laws for nonprofits passes Senate

post by Howard Owens in michael ranzenhofer

Press release:

The New York State Senate yesterday passed the Nonprofit Revitalization Act (S5845), sponsored by Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst), that would – for the first time in 40 years – overhaul state laws that govern charities and other not-for-profit organizations.

“The state laws that apply to not-for-profits were enacted in 1969 and, since that time, there has been no comprehensive review and update --until now,” Senator Ranzenhofer said. “Millions of New Yorkers depend on not-for-profits to respond in times of emergency, provide health care, and offer vital community assistance, among many other services.

In listening to the concerns of these organizations and officials across the state, we have developed comprehensive legislation that will help the not-for-profit sector continue to fulfill its essential mission in a streamlined and cost-effective way, while also reducing the opportunities for fraud and financial abuse.”

More after the jump. Click on the headline to read more:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Ranzenhofer announces committee assignments for new term

post by Howard Owens in michael ranzenhofer

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R, C, I – Amherst) has been appointed to serve as chairman of the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee for another legislative session.

“As chair of the Corporations Committee, over 25 defunct, inactive commissions have been dissolved, and 45 other good government bills have been enacted into law to positively impact authorities and commissions, as well as private corporations all across the state. I look forward to 2013 to continue the important work of this committee,” Ranzenhofer said.

Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos said "Senator Ranzenhofer has a strong sense of fiscal responsibility that has helped us reduce state spending in two consecutive budgets. He is a very strong advocate for a state spending cap and has fought to consolidate and shrink the government bureaucracy. I am confident that he will continue his excellent service as chair of the Corporations Committee and as a new member of the Senate Finance Committee."

Senator Ranzenhofer has also been appointed to the following Senate Standing Committees: Agriculture, Banks, Education, Finance, Judiciary, Racing, Gaming and Wagering, and Transportation.

“One of my top priorities has been to cut state spending,” Ranzenhofer said. “While the last two budgets have reduced overall expenditures, more work needs to be done to ensure the state spends within its means. As a member of the Finance Committee, I’ll be able to go over the fiscal impact of legislation with a fine-tooth comb.”

An official list of legislative meetings for Senate Standing Committees is available at nysenate.gov/committees.

The 61st Senate District encompasses: the towns of Amherst, Clarence, and Newstead and the villages of Akron and Williamsville in Erie County; all of Genesee County; and the towns of Chili and Riga, the Village of Churchville and part of the City of Rochester in Monroe County.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Hawley, Ranzenhofer react to governor's state-of-the-state message

post by Howard Owens in michael ranzenhofer, steve hawley

Statement by Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

The Governor’s State of the State address detailed his personal agenda for the 2013 legislative session. His plans to promote Upstate New York’s economy and invest in programs that will put the state on the cutting edge of high-tech innovation will provide a much-needed boost for our region. However, his presentation lacked any plans to address unfunded mandate relief, one of the biggest issues facing state government this year. No legislative agenda can be considered complete without a substantive plan to free our schools, towns and taxpayers from the burden of unfunded mandates.

Statement by State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R, C, I- Amherst) has issued the following statement in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address:

“Over the last two years, the State Legislature has been able to work together – unlike the gridlock and partisanship in Washington, D.C.– to pass two on-time budgets that reduced overall spending, lowered middle-class tax rates to the lowest levels in 58 years and realigned investments toward job-creation initiatives, such as ReCharge NY and Regional Economic Development Councils. Despite our fiscal house being put back in order, difficult choices remain ahead since the State still faces a $1 billion budget gap.

The ultimate goal must continue to be making New York more business friendly and improving our State’s economy so that the private sector can create jobs. The Governor’s proposals to reform workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs and his commitment to avoid taxes as a way to balance the budget will further help companies lower the costs of operating a business in New York. I am also pleased that, after announcing a billion dollars in economic development incentives for the Buffalo region last year, the Governor has again recommended a series of initiatives to revitalize Upstate New York’s economy.

The private sector created more than 210,000 jobs in New York State alone during the last two years, and I am hopeful that the State Legislature will be able to move New York’s economy in an even stronger direction by making the right investments and taking the right actions in the 2013 Legislative Session.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Photo: Mary Pat Hancock recognized for service to local government

post by Howard Owens in Mary Pat Hancock, michael ranzenhofer

County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock was honored Wednesday night by Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, through his aide Jay Grasso, for her service to local government during her term as president of the New York State Association of Counties. Grasso read a resolution from Ranzenhofer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

DOT to increase crosswalk time at Ross Street on Main Street

post by Howard Owens in batavia, michael ranzenhofer

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer has announced the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will be increasing the crosswalk signal time by 20 percent for pedestrians at the intersection of Route 5 and Ross Street in Batavia.

Senator Ranzenhofer requested the NYSDOT to conduct a study late last year.

“After receiving complaints that the time allotted by the signal had been too short – especially for residents at a nearby senior housing facility – to walk across a multi-lane road safely, I requested the State Department of Transportation determine essential improvements for the intersection,” Ranzenhofer said.

After further review, NYSDOT informed Senator Ranzenhofer that it has decided to implement numerous actions:

  • Increase the crosswalk signal time by 20 percent
  • Repair two of the four countdown timers
  • Replace missing informational signs

“I am pleased the Department of Transportation will be taking action to make this crossing safer for residents. Without these necessary improvements, this intersection would continue to pose a danger to the many walkers and residents at a nearby senior housing facility who utilize this crosswalk,” Ranzenhofer said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Three elected officials with single message for SCOPE members: We support the 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution got a ringing endorsement Tuesday from three of the top-ranking elected officials who represent Genesee County.

Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steven Hawley all appeared at SCOPE's monthly meeting to talk about what they're doing to help prevent extremists on the left from stripping gun owners of their right to own firearms.

Ranzenhofer started off the evening by discussing how important a Republican majority is in the State Senate to protecting gun rights.

"There are people out there who don’t like you and want to take away your rights," Ranzenhofer said.

When Ranzenhofer was first in office, and the GOP didn't have a majority in the Senate, he said anti-gun Democrats regularly tried to push new laws to restrict gun and ammo sales.  Since the GOP regained control of the upper chamber, "we’ve not had to be constantly on guard for new legislation coming up," Ranzenhofer said.

Now, Ranzenhofer said, the biggest worry at the state level for gun-rights advocates is a popular governor who wants to push through legislation to restrict the rights of gun owners.

Hochul said she comes from a family of gun-rights advocates. She has two brothers in Maryland, she said, who are expert marksmen. While Hochul said she isn't big into hunting or target shooting herself, she has taken safety courses and knows how to handle a firearm.

"When a bill comes up that affects your 2nd Amendment rights, I’m on your side," Hochul said.

While clerk in Erie County, Hochul said she streamlined the process for a gun permits from a year or longer to four months, and three of those months involve the State of New York doing background checks.

"Some of you may say I have a 'D' after my name and I can't vote for you," Hochul said. "Well, fine, but I still represent you. I am independent and I look at each and every issue as what's best for the people of Western New York. Sometimes the Democrats are right and sometimes they're really wrong. Some times the Republicans are right and some times they are really wrong."

According to Hochul, when the gun rights groups come out with their congressional rankings soon, she will receive a very high grade for her voting record for her first year in office.

"I'm very proud of my ranking," Hochul said.

Hochul also noted that she opposed the "Fast and Furious" operation, which provided guns to drug gangs in Mexico, and believes Attorney General Eric Holder should respect the powers of Congress under the Constitution and turn over all "Fast and Furious" documents to the House of Representatives, a demand from Congress the Obama Administration is fighting.

Hochul faces the most serious reelection challenge in November of the three officials who spoke Tuesday and SCOPE Chairman Jack Taylor said he contacted the campaign for her challenger, Chris Collins, to invite Collins to the meeting, but didn't get a response.

Hawley talked a good deal about his work on veterans' issues, particularly his annual Patriot Tour of Washington, D.C., and noted that while his colleague in the Senate, Ranzenhofer, may need to deal with only two anti-gun zealots in that chamber, the state Assembly is filled with 40 or 50 people eager to water down the 2nd Amendment.

Hawley said those representatives deal with a very different constituency than Assembly members in Upstate and Western New York, where people often live on a bit of land, own their own homes, like to hunt and fish and target shoot.

In noting the differences, Hawley segued into a discussion of a bill he has repeatedly sponsored -- allowing a referendum vote on whether New York should be split into two states.

Taylor spoke between each guest and hammered home the same point: Gun rights advocates need to educate the public on the difference between law-abiding citizens who own guns and criminals who not only use guns but other implements to commit their crimes.

"In all my years in retail, I've never seen a gun jump off the shelf and shoot somebody," Taylor said.

Some of the blame for the misrepresentation of guns falls on the media, Taylor noted, reminding SCOPE members that you never see a headline that says "Chevy and Budweiser kills family of four," but you do see headlines like "Glock used in murder spree."

The former county coroner said the most common way that young people die a violent death in Genesee County is from drunken driving, while there is only about one homicide every seven years locally (worth noting: the last homicide locally was Scott Doll beating to death his victim, no gun involved).

"We are all against crime, whatever the implement," Taylor said. "We need to separate the crime from the implement. There’s not a gun law out there that ever saved a life or prevented a criminal from committing a crime."

Monday, June 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Former aide files ethics complaint against Sen. Ranzenhofer

UPDATED at 1:08 p.m. with response from Sen. Ranzenhofer. UPDATED 2:15 p.m.: Response from Ranzenhofer clarified regarding cooperation with commission.

A former member of Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer's staff who claims she was fired for backing the wrong congressional candidate has sent a formal complaint to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

The complaint alleges that Ranzenhofer violated Public Officers Law 73, 17(c) by requiring paid legislative staff to work on political campaigns.

Michelle McCulloch, a 45-year-old Attica resident and mother of four children, was on the state payroll as an aide to Ranzenhofer until April 30.

McCulloch said she was never given a reason Ranzenhofer terminated her employment, but she believes it was because she backs rural Republican David Bellavia while Ranzenhofer is closely allied with the Erie County GOP and that county's candidate, Chris Collins.

(Previously: While Ranzenhofer claims neutrality in congressional race, petitions for Collins seem to tell a different story)

Reached earlier today, Ranzenhofer said he had not yet seen the complaint and "I find it ironic that you've seen it before I did."

He said any response he would have at this point would be the same as May 11 when he denied asking staff to do anything out of the ordinary, but said he couldn't discuss McCulloch's dismissal since it's a personnel matter.

He said he might comment further after he's had a chance to read the complaint.

The ethics complaint, McCulloch said Sunday, isn't really about her firing, though.

"Honestly, I've been asked many times if I'm crazy for going forward with this and I am afraid of retribution," McCulloch said. "I happen to know a lot of people who are in the same situation I was in and everybody is afraid to speak up.

"Constituents are supposed to be able to believe in their elected officials," McCulloch added. "It's an honor to serve constituents and when elected officials don't behave in an ethical way, it needs to be brought to public light. I hope this will inspire others to come forward and stop what is going on."

McCulloch believes Ranzenhofer's alleged violation of the public officers law is "pretty black and white."

The law reads:

No state officer or employee shall, directly or indirectly, use his or her official authority to compel or induce any other state officer or employee to make or promise to make any political contribution, whether by gift of money, service or other thing of value.

According to her complaint, which was delivered Friday to the commission and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Ranzenhofer forced staff to deliver signed petitions for the Conservative Party line to the campaign of Collins.

Collins, a businessman and former Erie County executive, is running against Iraq War veteran and Batavia resident David Bellavia for the GOP nomination in the reconfigured NY-27.

McCulloch, a lifelong resident of Attica and longtime member of the Wyoming County GOP Committee, is supporting Bellavia for the nomination.

Wyoming County is outside of Ranzenhofer's senate district.

According to McCulloch's sworn statement, some time in late March, Jon McNulty, a field representative for Ranzenhofer and an ally of Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, informed Ranzenhofer staff members that the senator wanted each one to determine a time when they could commit to circulating petitions on behalf of the Collins campaign.

"We were to use either personal time or comp time to fulfill this obligation," said McCulloch, who added she felt no choice but to comply.

It was up to Ralph Mohr, an Erie County GOP Committee member, to determine the locations of the petition drive.

On or about April 1, Mohr arrived at Ranzenhofer's legislative office with a packet of prepared Conservative petitions and lists and maps of registered Conservative Party voters in the Town of Newstead, Village of Akron and a portion of the Town of Clarence.

Mohr allegedly told staff members that Ranzenhofer requested the petitions.

"At this time, I and another staff member indicated to Jon McNulty that we did not wish to pass petitions for Christopher Collins," McCulloch wrote. "Mr. McNulty told the staff this was a team effort and the senator expected cooperation from the full staff."

According to McCulloch, passing petitions for Collins wasn't a novel requirement. Staff was required, according to McCulloch, to volunteer for Collins during his failed bid to win reelection as Erie County executive.

The chief reason, according to sources, that taxpayer-paid legislative staff members often have notary certificates is so they can collect signatures on minor party lines. According McCulloch, McNulty directed staff members to ensure their notary qualifications were up to date.

On April 4, the Republicans in Wyoming County endorsed Bellavia, and McCulloch subsequently passed Republican petitions for Bellavia outside of Ranzenhofer's district.

On April 9, Bellavia asked McCulloch to be among the Wyoming County Republicans on his steering committee.

"I personally felt he was the best candidate in the race," McCulloch wrote.

On April 17, Bellavia announced the names of those on his steering commitee, which included McCulloch and another Ranzenhofer aide, former Genesee County Legislator Jerome Grasso.

Soon after the announcement hit the Web, the wrath of McNulty and Langworthy came down on McCulloch, according to her statement.

She described McNulty, who was in her office when he got a test message about the committee, as "visibly angered."

During the course of the day, McCulloch said, there were several conversations about Grasso and McCulloch supporting Bellavia and McNulty felt Ranzenhofer should "lay down the law" and demand that Grasso and McCulloch withdraw their support of Bellavia.

On that same day, Grasso and McCulloch met with Ranzenhofer's Chief of Staff Kathleen Donner. Donner, according to McCulloch, told the two staff members that she didn't think Ranzenhofer would have a problem with their participation in Bellavia's campaign. An hour later, she called McCulloch back into her office and said that at the direction of Ranzenhofer she was to discontinue her support of Bellavia.

At about 6 p.m., Ranzenhofer called McCulloch.

"He indicated he was very disappointed in my participation with the Bellavia Campaign Steering Committee," McCulloch wrote. "He stated his political consultant Mr. Hook had contacted him regarding this issue and that Mr. Hook was not happy, either. He also stated I was not to do anything political, at any time, without informing him. This included any actions I may take as a committeewoman with the Wyoming County Republican Committee."

McCulloch was an elected member of the committee.

On April 26, Bellavia contacted McCulloch and informed her he would be attending a fundraiser hosted by Wyoming County Republicans and asked if McCulloch and her husband could provide some introductions to local GOP members. She said she introduced Bellavia to no more than eight people.

The next day, believing she was following Ranzenhofer's instructions, she emailed the senator and informed him of her political activity.

On April 30, McCulloch was summoned to Donner's office. 

"She was visibly upset," McCulloch wrote. "She said this was the hardest thing she has had to do and then she informed me the senator was no longer in need of my services effective immediately."

It was a tough decision, McCulloch said in last night's interview, to go forward with the ethics complaint, but she's received a tremendous amount of support from fellow GLOW Republicans.

"When I did my own thing and in my own county, that’s when I was chastised, McCulloch said. "If they can do that to me, who else can they do it to, and who might be afraid to speak out?"

GLOW Republicans, McCulloch believes, are getting fed up with the Eric County GOP trying to dictate politics in rural communities, and she hopes that if her ethics complaint is upheld by the commission, it will send a message about the end of power politics locally.

"I went back to school in 2001 and graduated in 2006 because I believe we need a voice out here as much as any community, maybe more," McCulloch said. "We are good, hard-working people in Wyoming and Genesee counties. We shouldn't be beholden to Erie County."

The complaint against Ranzenhofer is the second big case sent to the new joint ethics commission, which was formed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo about six months ago.

The other case, a complaint against the second most powerful man in the Senate, Sen. Thomas Libous, has created some controversy for the commission because of an alleged leak about the status of the case.

The commission, charged with fostering a more transparent government,  operates in secret and leaks of its proceedings are criminal acts.

Ellen Biben, the commission's executive director, has the power to open a preliminary investigation on her own, but a full investigation requires the support of eight of the 12 commissioners, including at least one of the three Republican senators on the commission.

The commission has 45 days to decide whether to proceed.

If there is an investigation, McCulloch, Grasso, McNulty and other staff members would likely be asked to provide sworn testimony.

Ranzhenhofer can choose to be represented by an attorney. He said today that he would cooperate completely with the commission if there is an investigation.

The commission will not publicly disclose whether an investigation is taking place and only its findings would be made public. If the commission finds against Ranzenhofer, any potential sanctions are the purview of a legislative committee.

Ranzenhofer is facing a reelection challenge from Democrat Justin Rooney.

Meanwhile, according to sources, Ranzenhofer, who has publicly proclaimed neutrality in the race between Collins and Bellavia, appeared at two events that Collins also attend in Genesee County on Friday -- a fundraiser for Genesee Cancer Assistance at Batavia Downs and a Rotary Club function in Le Roy. Grasso typically is with Ranzenhofer at any appearance he makes in Genesee County. Grasso, who remains on the Bellavia steering committee, has not returned a call seeking comment and clarification.

Today, Ranzenhofer said any attempt to tie his appearance at these events with Collins was "one of the most ridiculous things I've heard."

"I'm an elected official," Ranzenhofer said. "I got invited to the cancer event by Joe Gerace and the event in Le Roy was at Grasso's Rotary Club. The events were on my schedule. I have no control over who else shows up at these events."

Friday, May 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

While Ranzenhofer claims neutrality in congressional race, petitions for Collins seem to tell a different story

Petitions filed by the campaign of Chris Collins to help the Erie County millionaire qualify for the Conservative line on the NY-27 Congressional District ballot indicate Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer may not be as neutral in the race as he claims to be.

Though, even after being told of the petitions, the senator maintained he is staunchly neutral in the race.

"I have not endorsed and I will not endorse," Ranzenhofer said. "It's important that the voters in the district decide who will represent them in the general election. I do not even live in the district."

Ranzenhofer's involvement in the race became an issue last week when a former staff member told the Buffalo News she believed she was fired from the senator's office for supporting David Bellavia, the Iraq War veteran running against Collins.

The Batavian has obtained a half-dozen pages of Collins petitions (PDF) that indicate that paid legislative staff who report to Ranzenhofer worked in a coordinated manner to help gather signatures for the Collins campaign.

The fired staffer, Michelle McCulloch, a 45-year-old Attica resident, mother of four children, and Wyoming County GOP Committee member, said the message was sent loud and clear to staff members that Ranzenhofer expected all hands on deck to help Collins.

"This is a primary race," McCulloch said. "There are two candidates. If the senator wants to be neutral, that's a great thing to do, but when you direct your staff to do something else, that's a whole other thing."

After numerous attempts this week to get Ranzenhofer on the phone to discuss this issue, the senator called The Batavian today and denied that he directed staff members to gather signatures for Collins.

Ranzenhofer said that he cannot discuss specific personnel matters, but did say he "disagreed" with the assertion by McCulloch that he directed staff to help the Collins campaign.

"I believe I have staff members who are helping both candidates," Ranzenhofer said. "It's not unusual for staff members to circulate petitions for candidates and it's my belief that staff members have circulated petitions for both candidates."

Bellavia said he's only aware of two Ranzenhofer aides who have done anything for his campaign.

But McCulloch isn't the only member of the Bellavia steering committee who was harassed in his or her place of employment after the steering committee was announced, Bellavia said.

He's offered all steering committee members the chance to remove their names from the publically available list, but none have accepted the offer he said. He did add, however, that three new steering committee members asked that their names not be added to the list for fear of reprisal.

Also on the steering committee is Jay Grasso, a former Genesee County legislator who represents Ranzenhofer in the county.

Grasso has declined repeated requests for comment.

While Grasso and McCulloch have been publicly associated with the Bellavia campaign, all indications from McCulloch and other sources are that what they've done for Bellavia, they've done on their own.

The Collins petition effort, however, has the appearance of being a coordinated effort directed by somebody in authority.

The six staff members involved in the petition drive for Collins are all notaries public, enabling them to collect signatures across party lines (it's not uncommon for aides to be notaries just for this purpose). 

The petitions were for signatures on the Conservative line.

The petitions were passed only in Newstead and Akron (with some spillover into Clarence), which McCulloch said was a conscious decision by the Collins campaign not to bother with collecting signatures in any of the GLOW counties.

The staff members involved were McCulloch, Emily Berry, Dan Aikin, Jon McNulty, Kathy Donner and Carol Wojkowski.

And while Bellavia-supporter McCulloch gathered signatures for Collins, she said she only did so because she felt directed to take part in the effort.

In an interview with The Batavian today, McCulloch detailed why she believed she was fired for her support of Bellavia, who currently lives in Batavia and is a lifelong GLOW-area resident.

On April 17, Bellavia's campaign released the names of people throughout the NY-27 serving on his steering committee.

Within minutes of the news of the steering committee coming out, Ranzenhofer staff member and Collins ally McNulty sent McCulloch a text message that read, "Hook called ranz. Just want to warn you."

"Hook" refers to Michael Hook, a Washington political consultant who has worked on previous Collins campaigns (and may be working with Collins now, though it's not been publicly announced since Hook has been tainted by the campaign losses of Jane Corwin for Congress and the last Collins campaign for Erie County executive).

It was Corwin's loss that led McCulloch to seek a job with Ranzenhofer, whom she respected and thought would be a good elected official to serve. 

Previously, McCulloch had worked for Rep. Tom Reynolds until she took a position on Chris Lee's congressional campaign in 2008 and then she worked for Lee until Lee resigned in disgrace.

After the "Craigslist Congressman" resigned, McCulloch retained her job in the congressional office, which was ordered to conduct all of its business, on and off the clock, in a nonpartisan manner, so McCulloch was not in any way involved in Corwin's campaign.

A couple of hours after McNulty's message, Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy sent text messages to McCulloch questioning her support of Bellavia.

Up until this incident, McCulloch said she considered Langworthy a good friend -- he had been over for family dinners and taken her sons to sporting events.

While Langworthy hasn't publicly endorsed Collins, in political circles he's considered a Collins ally and in his text to McCulloch he made it clear he supported Collins.

In a response to Langworthy, McCulloch suggested Langworthy had called Hook.

Langworthy responded, "I haven't talked to your boss or Michael Hook. I am fully with Chris Collins. Hook is one of your boss' best friends."

Ranzenhofer said he's been good friends with Hook for more than 30 years, going back to a time before either were in politics and both were in Jaycees.

When McCulloch returned home that day, she received a call from Ranzenhofer.

"He discussed his displeasure with me being on the steering committee, that it didn't matter that it was in Wyoming County or not, whether I was a committee member or not, and that further political actions by me needed to be reported to him immediately," McCulloch.

She said it was noteworthy that Ranzenhofer didn't demand that she resign from the steering committee.

On April 26, Bellavia called McCulloch, she said, and asked if she would be willing to introduce Bellavia to Republicans at a fundraiser later that night in Attica. Since she was a steering committee member, a county committee member and a lifelong Wyoming County resident, so McCulloch agreed to introduce Bellavia around.

Wyoming County is entirely outside of Ranzenhofer's senatorial district.

She said she introduced Bellavia to five or six people that night.

The next morning, McCulloch said she sent an email to Ranzenhofer and to his Chief of Staff Kathy Donner informing them of her political activity, which she understood to be the direction given to her by the senator.

The following Friday, Donner called McCulloch into her office and told her her services would no longer be needed.

There was no explanation given for her termination, McCulloch said.

Up to that point, according to McCulloch, she had never been reprimanded, suspended or otherwise given any indication she has not performed her job in an outstanding matter. She said, in fact, she had always been praised for her work.

It was the first time in her life she had been fired.

McCulloch initially didn't want to talk about the situation, she said, but then personnel from state agencies and other elected officials started calling her to find out what was going on.

She didn't want the story to be, even if just in rumor, that she was fired with no explanation, and since she believed she was fired for helping Bellavia, she wanted to tell that story.

"To say I was fired for the first time in my life for a reason that’s not there, I couldn’t just sit there and let that happen," McCulloch said. "I didn’t want to put myself in a position for people to think I was fired for any other reason because it’s just not true."

She's also speaking out for the sake of her four children, she said, whom she said she has always encouraged to get involved in politics and support candidates they believe in. She said she thought they shouldn't see her just backing down when she doesn't believe she was treated fairly.

Her firing, McCulloch said, may also make her a rather public casualty of a growing rift between the Erie County GOP -- at least the Langworthy/Hook/Collins wing of it -- and GLOW Republicans.

Many key GLOW GOP activists are supporting Bellavia, and McCulloch said she doesn't believe Collins gets the rural counties. He's hardly even stepped foot into any parts of the district outside of Erie County since the campaign began.

She said the Erie County GOP is trying to bully its way into a primary win.

"It’s not about the issues and who the candidates are (with the Erie County GOP)," she said. "It's about their strength and force and what they can do to our rural counties and it’s not fair to our rural counties."

Premium Drupal Themes