LOCKPORT — A former Niagara County lawmaker who was relieved of his post as a state senate staffer after being accused of sexual harassment and who was later tied to a public corruption probe involving his old boss, ex-State Sen. George Maziarz, has secured a position on the county payroll.
Don Jablonski, the county's director of employment and training, confirmed Tuesday that Glenn Aronow, who represented the City of Lockport in the Niagara County Legislature for two terms before resigning in 2006, has been hired to serve as the county's senior employment and training coordinator.
In response to questions, Jablonski said the job in question was a civil service position and that Aronow would be paid at an hourly rate. He declined to answer additional questions, referring the newspaper to a statement that was released by his office on Tuesday afternoon.
"I can confirm that Glenn Aronow has been hired," Jablonski said before declining additional comment.
Aronow did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.
In April 2009, a former Senate Majority Office staffer sued Aronow, alleging he sexually harassed her while both were employed at the majority office in Buffalo. The staffer first complained about Aronow’s behavior in February 2008, leading Aronow to leave the majority office that March to take a job as a director of governmental relations with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. He later became the director of community affairs under Maziarz, who fired him from the job in December 2011.
The sexual harassment case, which also named the Senate Majority Office and state Attorney General as defendants, was ultimately settled for $75,000, along with $15,000 in attorney fees.
In her complaint, the staffer alleged that Aronow subjected her to a “daily campaign of sexual harassment” from October 2007 to January 2008, including unwanted sexual comments, sexually-oriented physical contact, threats and exposing her to pornography on his computer.
She also alleged that in one incident in January 2008, Aronow locked the office door while the two were alone, stood close behind her and made suggestive comments, leaving her “terrified.”
In a response to the complaint, Aronow’s attorney, Lisa Poch, questioned the timing of the suit and noted the former staffer’s history of making sexual comments in the workplace.
During a 2018 interview with the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Aronow said he wished he had done more to fight the allegations, describing his failure to do so as one of the biggest regrets of his life.
During the interview with the newspaper, Aronow suggested political forces weighed on his decision to settle the case. Had he refused to settle, Aronow said the Senate Majority would have tried to saddle him with the cost of damages and attorney fees.
“I knew absolutely, unequivocally that I did nothing wrong, and I had to fight this,” Aronow said. “But the Senate Majority is telling me, ‘If you don’t settle this we’re going to come after you financially, you’re going be financially liable. Senator Maziarz is indirectly and directly telling me I have to settle this.”
Aronow was also involved in a public corruption case pursued by prosecutors from the office of former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman back in 2017.
State prosecutors argued that, as part of a larger probe into the handling of funds from the campaign committees of Maziarz and the Niagara County GOP, Aronow was paid $49,000 in 2012 and $46,000 in 2013-2014 as part of a so-called "pass through" scheme. Prosecutors contended Maziarz wanted to continue to work with Aronow after his dismissal from the state senate office but wanted to "conceal these payments—and to avoid public scrutiny of his decision to retain the former staffer for campaign-related work."
Under the scheme, Maziarz, "acting with others," was accused of falsely reporting the expenditures on five separate filings with the New York State Board of Elections as payments to "pass-through entities, rather than to (Aronow)."
Aronow was not charged in connection with the case.
In 2018, Maziarz pleaded guilty to filing a false instrument, a misdemeanor, in connection with the case.
Henry Wojtaszek, a one-time Maziarz aide and former head of the county Republican committee, pleaded guilty to failure to file a disclosure form required by state election law, also a misdemeanor.
In his 2018 interview with the US&J, Aronow acknowledged that he continued much of the work he’d been doing for Maziarz and the county GOP committee — writing talking points, creating robocalls and preparing campaign mailers. He said he knew about Maziarz and committee’s payment scheme, but insisted that no staff-members thought it was illegal.
“If anybody knew it was illegal, nobody would’ve done it,” Aronow said during his 2018 interview. “It was done that way to protect George, because it would keep me engaged but keep me off the financials and save George the embarrassment of having my name on his campaign finance disclosures.”
A statement provided by Jablonski's office indicated that Aronow finished second on a civil service test given by the county as part of the process of filling the position of Workforce Development director, which was vacated last fall.
According to Jablonski's office, Bonnie Rice, who previously held the post of senior employment and training coordinator, finished first on that test. The department conducted interviews with five candidates who took the civil service test, with Rice finishing first in the interview process and Aronow finishing second.
The statement from Jablonski's office indicates that after Rice was offered the executive director's position, her previous position of senior employment and training coordinator was posted.
The statement also notes that while Aronow finished second on the test for the higher position, that test, under civil service law, cannot be automatically applied to his current position. As a result, Aronow's current appointment is considered "provisional."
"Thus, another civil service test must be given at which point Glenn and others can take the test and we will move forward based on those test results," the statement noted.