Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 13, 2013

Erie County DA will not prosecute Niagara County Legislature Clerk Mary Jo Tamburlin

Niagara Gazette — Niagara County Legislature Clerk Mary Jo Tamburlin will not face prosecution for allegations of petition fraud brought by members of the local Democratic Party.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita Jr.’s office confirmed this week that it will not pursue prosecution against Tamburlin because it lacked evidence to prove criminal intent in the case.

Niagara County Democratic Party leaders called for the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office to investigate Tamburlin’s handling of election petitions filed by Giulio Colangelo, a candidate in this year’s race for the legislature’s 5th District.

In July, Colangelo’s opponent, current 5th District lawmaker Jason Zona, filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office accusing Tamburlin of misusing her powers as a notary public in an effort to help Colangelo secure a minor party line on the election ballot.

Zona and Niagara County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Forster accused Tamburlin of altering the dates on three opportunity to ballot petitions filed by Colangelo’s campaign in an effort to give the candidate a better chance at securing the Working Families Party ballot.

Through the opportunity to ballot process, candidates can attempt to steal a party line away from their opponent by obtaining a majority of write-in votes during the September primary. Due to the relatively low number of registered Working Families Party voters in the district, Colangelo needed just five signatures on an opportunity to ballot petition to qualify for a write-in campaign. This year, the board of elections required petitions for opportunity to ballot to be filed by July 18.

Individuals who are not members of the party in question are not allowed to secure signatures from registered party voters as part of the opportunity to ballot process. A notary public, such as Tamburlin, or a commissioner of deeds, can, under the law, attest to the accuracy of any party’s petitions.

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