Flap over mailing targeting Monroe County Sheriff's race

Nov 5, 2017

Mailer, photo supplied by Monroe County Dem. Committee

The Baxter for Sheriff campaign and the Monroe County Democratic Committee on Sunday filed a complaint with the New York State Board of Elections asking the board to investigate what they say is fraudulent mailing sent to local Democrats over the weekend. 

They say the mailing is designed to lead readers to believe the mailing is sponsored by a progressive political action committee called Rochester For All.  Rachel Barnhart, Director of Rochester For All, said her organization was not responsible for the piece. Her political action committee has also filed a complaint with the United States Postal Inspector.

“This mailing is a clear violation of New York State Election Law, and a blatant attempt to mislead local voters,” said  Monroe County Dem. ChairwomanJamie Romeo.  “Given the O’Flynn campaign and the Monroe County Republicans are the sole beneficiaries of such cynical and dishonest efforts, we have urged the State Board to investigate them.”

The Monroe County Dem. Committee says the mailing violates New York State Election Law, which specifies that mail pieces must disclose who paid for them.

The campaign of Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, the Republican incumbent, issued this statement:

“Neither the Sheriff nor the campaign had any involvement in the production or distribution of the mailer. The campaign has proudly taken ownership of all printed material, television commercials, and digital ads produced and paid for by the campaign.”

The mailing refers to conservative positions that Baxter has held on a number of issues, and says he has shown support for President Donald Trump. Baxter has filed the paperwork to change parties to become a Democrat.

The mailing also encourages Democrats to write in the name of Gary Pudup for Sheriff, who is a Democrat and former Sheriff’s Dept. Lieutenant.

Barnhart’s group, Rochester for All has encouraged a write-in vote for Pudup. Pudup also says that he was not involved with the flyer, although he doesn’t disagree with the content. 

Disclosure: Pudup is also an occasional volunteer at WXXI, but does not work in the news department.