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Onondaga County Dems fire back over investigation into elections commissioner

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Pam Hunter, chair of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee

Onondaga County’s top Democrat is firing back at the Republican County Comptroller over an investigation into the Democratic elections commissioner's outside income.

Pam Hunter, chair of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee, suggested County Comptroller Matt Beadnell’s investigation of Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny’s work hours is partisan. Beadnell, a Republican, said politics aren’t involved. He said after receiving a tip, an investigation showed Czarny worked for Uber and Lyft for a total of 94 hours over an 18-month period during hours the Board of Elections is open.  

Hunter said Beadnell alerted Onondaga County GOP committee chair Tom Dadey about investigation, and not her. She suggested this is the kind of thing that turns citizens off from politics.

"Quite frankly when you're looking at a department that has maybe one of the smallest budgets in the whole county and this is where we are reviewing, when people are worried about roads and bridges and streets crumbling and infrastructure, and this is where we are at? It is frustrating for citizens," Hunter said. "They want to know their taxpayer dollars are going for oversight and not just frivolous political review."

In a letter to Beadnell, Hunter is also asking him to investigate a tip she received about some county employees playing golf at Bellevue golf course during working hours. She said she expects an equal amount of energy spent on that as the tip about Czarny.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said he won’t comment on the dispute, but he said it does expose an issue. While there are rules for elected officials regarding outside income, things are unclear for political appointees.

"Because they are political in nature and what they do and how they get their jobs. If the legislature wants to look at outside income and talk about policy relating to that, I’m open to the discussion," McMahon said.

The case is being investigated by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office. DA Bill Fitzpatrick said while it seems inappropriate to be working two jobs at the same time, he said he does not know if its criminal or the terms of Czarny’s employment.

Czarny has defended himself saying his hours are flexible and he always puts in more than the 35 hours a week he’s required to.

091019 Comptroller Beadnell by WRVO on Scribd

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.