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chris collins

July 9, 2012 - 1:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, NY-27, chris collins.

Congressional candidate Chris Collins was given a tour today of Batavia Enclosures, the Batavia-based business that recently moved from the Harvester Center to an expanded location on Treadeasy Drive. His guide was owner Leonard Roberto.

July 7, 2012 - 3:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

GOP candidate for Congress Chris Collins reportedly has a history of saying things he maybe shouldn't, and his opponent in the race for the NY-27 has shown she's willing to use those statements against him in the campaign.

“All of us are human," Hochul said in an interview Thursday. "It’s important if you misspeak that you own it and say you made a mistake."

But, she added, “When there’s a pattern, then it’s trouble. If it’s an honest mistake that is a different category.”

As for criticizing Collins for saying people no longer die from cancer in an interview with The Batavian, Hochul said she thinks the comment raises legitimate policy concerns that should held up to scrutiny.

“He said it was out of context," Hochul said. "It looked like it read in context to me. He also said he misspoke, but either way, if you’re going to engage in this level of debate and criticize health policy that provides care to people with preexisting conditions, if you want to have these conversations, it’s important to state your position clearly."

Collins readily admits he makes statements that are easy targets for his political opponents, but he said that's just a byproduct of his straightforward style.

“Clearly, I’m not a politician," Collins said. "I come out of the private sector. I speak very directly. I actually answer questions. I’m not someone who filters, who is consistently filtering everything you say.”

As for the cancer comment, Collins thinks it's ridiculous that anybody would believe he thinks people no longer die from cancer.

Opponents concentrating on just one portion of his full quote miss the overall point he was making, Collins said.

Clearly what he said is there've been advances in health care, Collins said, and new treatments are more costly, above any increase in inflation, than what existed even just 10 yeas ago.

"The result is we live a lot longer and people today are surviving where they may not have a decade ago," Collins said. "Thanks for advances in cancer treatment that saved my sister’s life."

Over the course of Collins's several years of public life, the former Erie County executive has been criticized many times for public statements, most notably in 2009, when Collins compared Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hitler, and in 2010 when Collins was reported to have offered a woman a seat at an event in exchange for a lap dance.

“I will say, about the Shelly Silver comment, it was a poor attempt at a joke in front of a friendly audience," Collins said. "It didn’t come across and in hindsight, I should not have said that.

"As for the lap dance remark," Collins added. "It never happened. I can’t apologize for something I never said.”

During her year in Congress, Hochul has gotten into trouble for an apparent misstatement once.

Republicans jumped all over a statement by Hochul at a political forum in Erie County where she reportedly said, “Well, basically, we’re not looking to the Constitution on that aspect of it. Basically, the decision has been made by this Congress that American citizens are entitled to health care.”

Hochul thinks that the public is ready to forgive a politician a genuine mistake, but when they do say something inappropriate they should own the mistake.

"If you’re not adding anything positive to the policy debate, then you have to deal with the consequences," Hochul said.

In his interview published in The Batavian on June 24, Collins made other remarks that could be construed as politically sensitive misstatements, but Democrats have not pursued those comments as aggressievely as the cancer statement.

Most notably, Collins made statements that could lead one to conclude that the GOP nominee doesn't believe in civilian control of the military and that the president is commander-in-chief -- two concepts enshrined in the Constitution.

When asked if there was an opportunity to cut spending by cutting the military budget, Collins said, "It’s not my call. I would say you look to your military commanders, you say what is our mission and you look to the experts on how to achieve that mission in in the most cost-effective way, making sure they’ve got the tools they need to accomplish their mission."

Collins then added that President Barack Obama has been out of line in his handling of the military in Afghanistan.

"Whereas our current president has tried to micromanage the military," Collins said. "He’s replaced commanders in Afghanistan because they don’t agree with his policies."

In an interview Friday, Collins said he certainly supports civilian control of the military and understands the president is commander-in-chief.

“President Obama has politicized his position beyond what you would call a professional commander-in-chief," Collins said. "That’s just my opinion. Others may have a different opinion, but I know many people who share my opinion.

“The Constitution is the Constitution and he can do what he’s allowed to do, but that doesn't mean that what he does is right," Collins added.

From Hochul's point of view, Collins's remarks regarding the president's handling of Afghanistan is misplaced criticism.

"Regardless of party affiliation, the president of the United States remains the commander-in-chief," Hochul said. “When the president made a decision to take out Osama Bin Laden, some said that may have been too big a risk. I understand he overrode a lot of people when he made that decision, but I thank him on behalf of the people of this country that he did.”

Finally, as is often the case in taped interviews, the original statement from Collins on advances in health care was quite long and was trimmed to make for shorter reading. While we believe the quote as printed in the origional article fully explains the point Collins was attempting to make, for transparency's sake, below is his full statement. The part of the quote used in the original article is in bold.

"The fact of the matter is, healthcare today is different than healthcare was five, 10, 20 years ago. We didn’t have Lipitor, we didn’t have robotic surgery, we didn’t have what we have for prostrate cancer. People just died. People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things. The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases, and drugs that step in for high cholesterol and high blood pressure and everything else. Those are expensive, if anyone thinks that’s just free, we didn’t have them 20 years ago, so when people, I think, erroneously say, the increased cost of health care is more than inflation, they’re forgetting about, you’re getting a different product. Do you like the product you’re getting today or not? That’s decisions I think people have to make."

July 3, 2012 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

The Kathy Hochul campaign just released the following statement:

“Chris Collins has demonstrated a stunning lack of sensitivity by saying, ‘people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and some of the other things.’ Tragically, nearly 70,000 people will die this year from these two types of cancer alone. We can disagree about public policy without making these kinds of outrageous and offensive statements."

That's the statement, with no reference to the source nor the full quote so people could judge the context for themselves.

The original source is The Batavian (both as a courtesy to The Batavian and as a matter of complete transparency, the Hochul campaign should have included this fact in its release).

Here's the full quote from Collins:

"People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases."

On its face, the opening part of the quote from Collins sounds outrageous, but in context, clearly, Collins misspoke. More likely, he meant to say. "Fewer people die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things." 

That's not what he said (I taped the interview and the original quote as published is accurate), but the rest of the quote clearly explains the larger point he is trying to make, which is that medical advances have driven up the cost of healthcare.

To rip this quote out of context and try to use it to paint Collins as some sort of insensitive boob is the kind of below-the-belt, negative campaign tactic that keeps people from being engaged in the process and casting intelligent votes. Frankly, I think of Kathy Hochul as somebody who is more dignified than this sort of mudslinging.

June 27, 2012 - 1:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

In the end, David Bellavia expressed more regret for his volunteers than he did for himself.

"I’m just exhausted," Bellavia said. "I’ve been walking so many miles and...so many doors...and I’m just trying to think in my head, what could I have done more, what could I have done, but at the end of the day, I’m just so sorry to all of these volunteers who gave me so much time and effort. I just feel really bad that I let them down."

The decorated Iraq War veteran thanked several of his volunteers by name during his concession speech at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia on Tuesday night. He then pledged his support to the Republican party and the effort to defeat President Barack Obama and Rep. Kathy Hochul in November.

"I spoke to Mr. Collins and I congratulated him on his victory," Bellavia told his supporters. "I’m telling you right now, we are going to lock shields as a party. We are going to stand in the trenches shoulder to shoulder."

After a campaign in which Bellavia characterized Collins as a "country club Republican" who was out of touch with the rural voters of the GLOW counties, the natural question for Bellavia after his speech: Did you just pledge to stand behind Collins?

His answer, "We’re going to talk. I stand behind the party and the process. I don’t make any excuse for whether it’s perfect today. We lost. I have kids and it’s important that they understand that you have honor when you win and you have honor when you lose. I have no excuses. I’m a Republican. I want to see Republicans win. Chris and I will talk in the future and we’ll move forward."

If Bellavia backs Collins, it's unclear if many of his GLOW supporters will follow.

But at the Clarion on Tuesday night, one of Bellavia's volunteers clearly said she won't vote for Collins in November.

Michelle McCulloch believes Collins was at least tangentially responsible for losing her staff position with State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.

"You’re asking a person who lost her job because Chris Collins didn’t want me helping someone else in the race," McCulloch said. "I have never tried to work against my party, but I have no use for Mr. Collins. I know what he is and he knows what he is. He will never have my vote or my family’s vote."

Asked if she would help Hochul's campaign, McCulloch said, "I’ll see how things play out. I guess I’ll listen to Kathy Hochul and see what she has to say and go from there."

McCulloch was among the volunteers Bellavia singled out for thanks during his concession speech.

"Michelle McCullough has sacrificed so very much for me and on the side of honor, principle and integrity," Bellavia said. "Your family is beautiful. Your husband is an outstanding man. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure and we’re going to make it right."

Collins will now face Hochul, who won her seat in a special election in May 2011 in which she attacked Collins ally Jane Corwin for her support of the Paul Ryan Budget Plan. Within an hour of Collins declaring victory on Tuesday, the Hochul campaign sent out a press release attacking Collins on the same topic.

Statement from Campaign Manager Frank Thomas:

"Chris Collins has made it a hallmark of his campaign to avoid taking positions on key issues. But one thing is clear, Mr. Collins supports Paul Ryan's budget; a plan that turns Medicare into a voucher program and makes seniors pay $6,400 more for their Medicare benefits to fund tax cuts for multimillionaires. He has even has said that it does not go far enough.

“It is time that Chris Collins comes clean with voters about his plans to take the Ryan’s budget further. What more could he do on top of decimating Medicare and protecting the super rich? We hope that now that he is the nominee he is willing to answer questions on the issues that matter most to the people of the 27th district.”

Previously: Collins landslide in Erie County sinks Bellavia in NY-27 GOP primary

PHOTO: Bellavia during his concession speech with his wife, Deanna, his children and parents (not pictured, his brother, Rand).

June 26, 2012 - 11:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

I imagine that by this point, anybody who cares knows that Chris Collins defeated David Bellavia in the NY-27 GOP primary. I spent the evening with the Bellavia camp at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia. I'll have pictures and quotes later.

Meanwhile, here are the available results:

With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, it's Collins 10,124 votes (60 percent) to 6,720.

Erie County dictated the outcome of the race, with Collins winning 5,889 votes to 2,094. Bellavia won every other county except Niagara.

Bellavia took Genesee County 1,105 to 683.

Wyoming County hasn't reported yet, but in Orleans and Livingston, it was Bellavia 758 to 389 and 854 to 679.

In the section of the district that covers Monroe and Ontario counties, it was Bellavia 1,048 to 586.

UPDATE: Wyoming County, Bellavia 734 to 623.

June 25, 2012 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

Batavia, the heartland of the redrawn 27th Congressional District, became a hotbed of political activity today as the two candidates in the GOP primary engaged in some last minute campaigning with Buffalo TV news crews in tow.

Chris Collins stopped for lunch and handshakes at the Pok-A-Dot and David Bellavia stopped at GOP households along Naramore Drive, Batavia.

Collins and Bellavia both predicted victory and took a couple final swings at each other.

Collins on why Genesee County Republicans should vote for him rather than Bellavia:

"You need look no further than this campaign. We're spot on with the issues. We have a professional campaign, 100-percent positive, 100-percent focused and he’s taken a page out of the Barack Obama playbook -- divide and conqueror, vote against Chris Collins because he’s from Erie County. He’s insulted every resident in the county of Erie. He’s divided us just like Barack Obama, the haves, have nots, the ones, the 99s, we’re running on the issues. He’s running a negative campaign. People don’t like that."

Bellavia on Collins saying he's run a divisive campaign:

"It’s very funny, because I’m not campaigning against Erie County. I’m campaigning against him and the handful of individuals who make up the Erie County GOP machine who embarrassed the Erie County Republic Party, who have almost ruined the party in Erie County and have done nothing but embarrass us and fail us. He should have beat Mark Poloncarz handily. He didn’t. He talks about the 64 percent of Erie County in the district that voted for him, but there’s never been a menu option and now there’s another entree on the menu and he’s going to find out that a lot of people held their nose last time. It’s not about Erie County at all. It’s about Chris Collins."

At the Pok-A-Dot, after I turned off my tape recorder, Chris Collins and I discussed the likely voter turnout tomorrow. I said it would be low. Collins said that he had a deal with Genesee County GOP Chairman Richard Seibert that he wouldn't do robo calls in Genesee County if Seibert promised to get out the vote.

Collins said he had the same deal with Livingston County.

Collins repeated the statement, no robo calls if Seibert got out the vote.

This sounded like a deal between Collins and Seibert, who is officially neutral in the race (and the county GOP did not endorse a candidate).

Reached at his office, Seibert said there was no such deal.

Seibert said he had a conversation with Collins about robo calls during the Jane Corwin campaign, that people were getting as many as 16 calls a day and it didn't go over well with Genesee County voters.

"I told him that robo calls were killing us," Seibert said. "That's not what our people want or like."

Collins said he wouldn't do robo calls in Genesee County, but Seibert said there was no promise to get out votes for Collins.

The county GOP is not doing any specific get-out-the-vote effort, Seibert said. Individuals are free to support and work on behalf of either candidate and are doing so, Seibert said, but he hasn't asked any Republicans to work for either campaign.

Reached later, Collin's campaign spokesman Michael Kracker said Collins did not mean to leave the impression that Seibert promised to deliver votes for his campaign.

"Dick Seibert has been very good at remaining neutral in this race," Kracker said.

As for the predicted turn out, Seibert said he doesn't think it's going to be has big as he had hoped.

With David Bellavia being from Genesee County, he thought the Bellavia campaign would work hard to get out the vote in Genesee County, and that to counter that move, the Collins campaign would match the effort. Neither candidate, Seibert said, has put any extra emphasis on Genesee County and he's not hearing many people around the county talking about the election.

Seibert ordered enough ballots to handle a 40-percent turnout among Republican voters.

"I've got a bad feeling I ordered too many ballots," Seibert said.

June 24, 2012 - 9:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins.

America is in a terrible mess and Chris Collins thinks he's just the man to go to Washington and try to help fix it.

He wants to put people to work, correct the trade imbalance with China and see the United States become energy independent.

"The country is at a tipping point," Collins said. "I think we’re headed in the wrong direction. Simply stated, I want to do my part to help restore the promise of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."

Collins, who served as Erie County executive from 2008 to 2011, is being challenged in Tuesday's GOP primary for the NY-27 congressional district against David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran and Batavia resident.

The self-made millionaire is also on the Conservative line for November's general election and limits most discussion about the race to incumbent Kathy Hochul and President Barack Obama.

Collin's vows to run the race through November, even if he loses the GOP primary.

For Collins, the main issues in the race are jobs, less spending in Washington, energy indepdence and repealing Obamacare.

On jobs, Collins says small business owners have lost confidence in the American government and until confidence is restored, they won't invest in research and development, expansion or making capital improvements.

"A lack of confidence is the wet blanket today on job creation," Collins said.

To restore confidence, Washington needs to stop spending so much money.

"We need to send the message that we will balance the budget in the next 10 years," Collins said. "I think 10 years is something we have to insist on. The idea that we can wait 30 or 40 years is complete nonsense."

On taxes, Collins said the corporate tax rate is too high. He wants it reduced to 25 percent.

"It’s currently 35," Collins said. "We certainly can’t increase it, as Obama and Hochul want to do. We have to cut the tax rate to be the same as it is around the world. We are the highest-taxed nation in the world and we wonder why jobs are going overseas? We are disincentivizing them from investing in the United States."

What Collins wants to see is a "fairer flatter" tax, with fewer deductions and no more than 25 percent on any individual or business.

On trade, Collions wants the U.S. to stand up to China.

"The key words there are China cheats," Collins said. "They cheat by manipulating their currency, which gives them, I believe, a 30-percent cost advantage over the American manufacturer. They steal our intellectual property.  And they don’t open their own markets to our manufacturers."

The response, Collins said, is tarriffs until China capitulates and trades as an equal partner with the U.S.

"I believe China needs us more than we need them," Collins said. "They need our consumers. Quite frankly, we don’t need them."

When it comes to trading with other countries, however, Collins is open to any trade that is fair and free.

"We do live in a world economy and we can’t erect barriers and say the United States is not going trade with the rest of the world," Collins said. "That’s just nonsense. We can not only compete, we can win."

On energy, Collins said the U.S. needs to stop relying on the Middle East for its oil.

"We drill more off shore," Collins said. "We drill more on federal lands. We use safe nuclear. We go after our shale gas. We can be energy independent in 10 years."

On foreign affairs, Collins said except in dealing directly with Al-Qaeda, he doesn't believe the U.S. should go it alone. While during the trade discussion, Collins said he was against interfering in another country's affairs, when it comes to military intervention, he said the U.S. should only participate if it's part of an organization such as NATO.

"When it comes to us being the world’s policeman, the world’s this, the world’s that, guess what -- our cupboards are bare," Collins said. "If the civilized world has a problem with Syria, if we have a problem with other countries, then that should be a joint effort, it should not be the U.S. going alone."

Asked whether the military budget should be trimmed, Collins said, it's up to the generals.

"It’s not my call," Collins said. "I would say you look to your military commanders, you say what is our mission and you look to the experts on how to achieve that mission in in the most cost-effective way, making sure they’ve got the tools they need to accomplish their mission.

"Whereas our current president has tried to micromanage the military. He’s replaced commanders in Afghanistan because they don’t agree with his policies.  I think you need to look to your experts."

Clearly, Collins dislikes Obamacare.

He said Obama wants to cut $500 billion from Medicare, which, he said, would decimate Medicare Advantage.

Also, he said, Obama would trim $350 million from reimbursements to doctors, which Collins believes will encourage doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients.

"They don’t have to take Medicare patients. So in the supply-and-demand world, if you’re busy what do you do? You usually elminate your least profitable customer," Collins said. "So the thought that the federal government can set the reimbursement rates for doctors and cut 30 percent out their income and nothing’s going to change is just nonsense. Right there and then you’ve got to get rid of Obamacare."

The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.

Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.

"People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better,  we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases."

On Medicaid, Collins said he favors block-granting enough federal Medicaid funds to ensure poor people have basic medical care, but beyond that, it's a state issue and each state should decide what kind of Medicaid program it wants.

The problem in New York, with the state taking a bigger and bigger share of local tax dollars to support Medicaid, is a New Tork state problem, not a federal problem, Collins said.

New York, Collins said, spends three times more on Medicaid than California and Texas combined, which together have 60 million residents compared to New York's 19 million.

Previously, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told The Batavian that the high cost of Medicaid for counties in New York was the fault of the federal government, but, Collins said, New York offers Medicaid patients every conceivable option for care, which significantly drives up the cost.

"I’m not surprised Albany would try to blame it on Washington," Collins said. "The blame belongs right where it is, in Albany."

One of his big objections to Obamacare, Collins said, is that he doesn't think the government should dictate how people live their lives.

"The thought that government should be making decisions for us is against every grain in my body," Collins said.

Asked, then, "Are you a libertarian?"

Collins said, "I have a libertarian bent, yes."

Asked, then, if he favored legalizing marijuana, Collins said, no.

"I just don’t think we should legalize drugs," Collns said.

Well, that's not letting people make decisions for themselves.

"On that piece, I suppose," Collins said. "We have to outlaw murder, too.

"The government's role is to create laws," Collins added. "If I believe in a smaller limited government, that doesn’t mean I believe in a lawless state.  Government does have a role to play in passing laws."

Collins had also previously said he believes in state's rights, so we asked him if the federal government should interfer in a state like California, which has legalized medical marijuana.

"Whether it's seat belt or motorcycle helmet laws, I do believe in what the Constitution would say on the importance of states rights. The people who live in that state should be able to decide what laws they want. The federal government has over stepped its bounds over and over again relative to state rights."

PHOTO: Submitted by the Collins campaign.

June 20, 2012 - 11:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

According to David Bellavia, when it comes to fiscal policy, his GOP primary opponent in the NY-27 race, Chris Collins, isn't conservative enough.

His proof: Collins said President Barack Obama's multibillion dollar economic stimulus spending was good for Erie County.

Collins was county executive for Erie County in 2009 and his office put out a newsletter saying as much, Bellavia said in a press conference today at his new campaign headquarters on East Main Street, Batavia.

"I can't find one fiscal conservative who agrees that Obama's stimulus was a good thing," Bellavia said.

Bellavia said Collins loved the stimulus plan so much that he asked that a total of $1.9 billion be channeled to Erie County.

In an effort to fact check Bellavia's statement, a Google search turned up a press release from the City of Buffalo in which Collins and Mayor Bryon W. Brown say they want to see Erie County and Buffalo receive the stimulus funds.

Collins quote:

“At a time when county resources are scarce, a possible injection of federal dollars could have a tremendous impact on Erie County’s aging and neglected infrastructure. Funding for even a fraction of these projects would represent a significant investment in our community, the opportunity to hire thousands of local workers, and reduce our need for capital borrowing in the future.”

Bellavia also said Collins used $85,000 in stimulus money to balance the Erie County budget.

Ask for a response via email, Michael Kracker, spokesman for Collins, wrote:

Chris Collins balanced the budget in Erie County the old-fashioned way -- by reducing the size of government, vetoing hundreds of additional spending requests from liberal Democrats and making government more efficient. Mr. Collins was actually threatened with a lawsuit by Democratic politicians like Louise Slaughter and Kirsten Gillibrand for NOT spending the stimulus money. Mr. Bellavia has his facts wrong.

While still in office, Collins did an interview with Buffalo's Art Voice and explained that Buffalo was receiving $75,000 in stimulus money, available through the efforts of liberal Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer, to offset anticipated shortfalls, as a result of the recession, for Medicaid expenses.

The other ongoing dispute between Bellavia and Collins is over the conditions of any debate.

Numerous times, Bellavia has said he wants a chance to debate Collins on the issues, but he claims Collins keeps dodging a debate.

On Tuesday, there was a debate scheduled in Clarence that Bellavia did not attend because, he said, the whole format was set up to favor Collins. Bellavia says the scheduled moderator is an Erie County legislator who has received substantial financial support from Collins, and that Collins wouldn't allow a reporter from the Buffalo News on the panel. Bellavia also asserts that the Erie County GOP was handing out tickets to only 200 Collins supporters. In addition, Bellavia wanted the debate to be televised.

Bellavia said that the no-debate stance by Collins is a strategy to marginalize the Bellavia campaign since Bellavia doesn't have a personal fortune to spend, as Collins does, on campaign ads.

Here's the response from Kracker on behalf of Collins:

As for the debates, Mr. Bellavia once again demonstrates an aversion to the truth. In May, Mr. Bellavia enthusiastically agreed to the debate sponsored by the ECFRW -- in front of over 100 people. It was only afterwards that his campaign made up numerous stories to cover for his ducking of the issues and Mr. Collins. His claims are simply untrue -- pure and simple. Of the five candidates invited to participate -- including all three U.S. Senate candidates, Mr. Bellavia was the only one who took issue with the terms and refused to participate.

UPDATE Thursday, 7:31 a.m.: Here's a link to a Buffalo News article on what happened with $41 million of the stimulus funds. (Link provided by the Bellavia campaign.)

June 14, 2012 - 7:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, David Bellavia, kathy hochul, NY-27, chris collins.

Kathy Hochul supports Obama, Obama is destroying the country, and only Mitt Romney in the White House and Chris Collins in the NY-27 seat can put things right, Collins told local reporters outside Batavia City Hall today.

“We have to defeat a representative who does not represent our core values," Collins said. "My core values are smaller government, personal accountability, local decision making, fiscal discipline, serving taxpayers and respecting future generations.

"These are not only the core values of the 27th Congressional District, they’re the core values of America. They are not President Obama’s core values. They are not Kathy Hochul’s core values."

Not once during his five-minute speech did Collins mention his GOP primary opponent, David Bellavia.

Asked about it, Collins said he is entirely focused on defeating Hochul on Nov. 6. Even if he loses the primary -- which he said he would win -- he will still be on the Conservative Party line and he said he intends to continue campaigning against Hochul right up until the general election.

"Kathy Hochul supports Obama," Collins said. "She is totally out of sync with the values of the 27th District. She won’t even admit she’s a Democrat."

According to recent reports, Hochul has a voting record that has not been in line with Obama or the Democrats.

The Buffalo News reported over the weekend that "Hochul is bucking the party line," noting that "Hochul voted with the Democratic Party line 81 percent of the time and with the Obama administration 78 percent of the time," which is less than other Democrats.

"Politico" noted that Hochul has not been the lapdog for Obama's health care policies that Democrats expected when she beat Jane Corwin -- in part because Hochul latched onto the GOP's Medicare reform plan as a wedge issue.

Still, Hochul did tell the Buffalo News she will vote for Obama, even though she won't attend the Democratic convention and, the News said, "she gives the president mixed reviews."

For Collins, however, Hochul and Obama are inexorably linked. 

The hook of Collins's remarks today was a statement by Obama that "the private sector is doing fine."

Collins said, the private sector isn't doing fine, not when there is 8.2 percent unemployment, China is cheating at trade and corporate tax rates are too high.

“We’ll keep talking about jobs and the economy, jobs and the economy," Collins said.

With Romney as president and Collins part of a GOP majority in Congress, Collins said policies would be enacted to put Americans back to work, most specifically, lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

He also said the nation's debt is too high and promised smaller government if the GOP is given a chance to lead the way.

"Small businesses have a lack of confidence in the future of our country," Collins said. "We have a president who let that happen because he needs to keep going to China to borrow money. We cannot continue to borrow $4 million a day, $1.4- $1.5 billion a year and have small business invest in our future. They don’t know where the future is going."

One point Collins and Hochul seem to agree on: Trade. 

Hochul kept her campaign promise and voted against free-trade agreements supported both by the GOP leadership and President Obama.

Collins said he would push for tarriffs on China if the nation continues its current trade policies, which include not letting its currency float on the open market, and giving Chinese businesses a 30-percent price advantage over U.S. companies.

Collins's message for China, "Float your currency, respect our IP, open your own markets -- or else. They need us more than we need them."

June 4, 2012 - 12:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, chris collins.

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."

May 30, 2012 - 5:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

The campaign of GOP congressional candidate David Bellavia today criticized former Erie County executive Chris Collins for borrowing the ideas of former Western New York Republican Congressmen in his Small Business Bill of Rights but failing to give credit where it was due.

In 2010, Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) co-sponsored H.R. 5109, titled the Small Business Bill of Rights. (bit.ly/KIWkKL) The bill was meant to stimulate growth and innovation in small businesses, much like Mr. Collins' initiative of the same name announced today. Rep. Lee's Small Business Bill of Rights included provisions for tax relief, limiting government regulations, protecting the secret ballot, lowering health care costs, and protecting intellectual property.

Also in 2010, Rep. Lee unveiled "Manufacturing for Tomorrow," a five-point plan to strengthen manufacturing in Western New York. The initiative called for tax relief and fairness for U.S. workers and manufacturers, tort reform to address job-killing lawsuit abuse, and customs reform to stop intellectual property violations. (scr.bi/Lg8olA) Collins' Small Business Bill of Rights, meant to bolster small businesses in the 27th Congressional District, mirrors the key points of Rep. Lee's plan, but without giving him credit. Mr. Collins advocates tax relief for small businesses ("right to lower taxes"), tort reform ("right to be free of frivolous lawsuits"), and intellectual property protection. (bit.ly/LGBjyE)

During his time in office, Rep. Lee was one of two representatives from New York State who opposed the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which denied workers the right to a secret ballot. (bit.ly/KZMoLi) Another tenet in Mr. Collins' plan is the "right to secret ballots for union elections."

"A large portion of Mr. Collins' Small Business Bill of Rights comes directly from the work of Rep. Lee," Bellavia campaign manager and former Lee staffer Paul Cole said. Cole also charged Collins with borrowing the ideas of former Congressman Tom Reynolds.

In the document, Collins also states that "China needs to play by the rules." Mr. Collins advises that China must float its currency in order to end currency manipulation and protect the U.S. from unfair trade practices that harm American-made products and small businesses. He failed to credit Rep. Reynolds (NY-26) for that idea. Reynolds co-sponsored the Chinese Currency Act, which aimed to end Chinese exchange-rate manipulation and insulate American manufacturers from being harmed by currency manipulation. (bit.ly/NfBIuv)

"By failing to give credit to former congressmen Lee and Reynolds for their ideas, Mr. Collins is violating his own call for protecting intellectual property that he outlined today in this very plan," said Cole, who also worked for Rep. Reynolds. "For a candidate who touts his business experience as his sole qualification for Congress, he sure has a problem coming up with his own policy prescriptions."

"Some points in Mr. Collins' initiative are principles all Republicans espouse -- eliminating the death tax and government regulations, simplifying the tax code, balancing the budget, and repealing Obamacare," Cole said. "But once you compare the ideas of congressmen Lee and Reynolds with Mr. Collins' small business platform, it's quite clear that the other five solutions Mr. Collins offers are lifted from former the congressmen."

"At the very least, Mr. Collins should have the dignity to give credit where it is due," Cole said. "Anyone familiar with the policies of congressmen Lee and Reynolds would recognize these proposals in a hot second."

Cole noted that Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, who is leading the Collins campaign, also worked for Lee and Reynolds.

NOTE: Chris Collins appeared in Batavia today to announced a "Small Business Bill of Rights," which The Batavian would have covered had the Collins campaign bothered to contact The Batavian in advance of the event.

May 13, 2012 - 12:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

BATAVIA, NY – The Bellavia campaign today invited Collins campaign officials to negotiate the details of a series of debates leading up to the June 26th Republican Primary in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

“It is unfortunate Mr. Collins took so long to assent to the wishes of voters,” Paul Cole, campaign manager for Bellavia for Congress, wrote in a letter to Michael Hook, general consultant for the Collins campaign. “But there is still time to assure the constituents of all eight counties are all afforded opportunities to see the candidates discuss the vital issues of the day.”

On March 27th, Bellavia challenged Mr. Collins to a series of eight debates in the eight counties of the 27th District. Saturday, 47 days later, Collins acquiesced and agreed to debate. The text of Cole’s letter to the Collins campaign can be found below.

Text of letter after the jump (click on headline to read):

May 11, 2012 - 3:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, chris collins.

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."

May 5, 2012 - 4:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, michael ranzenhofer, NY-27, chris collins.

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer doesn't want his staff members showing public support for either of the two men running for the GOP nomination in the 27th Congressional District, and so he apparently fired one staff member this week for supporting David Bellavia.

The Buffalo News reports Michelle McCulloch, 45, was fired after introducing Bellavia at a campaign event outside of Ranzenhofer's district.

While she had previously been warned about her connection to Bellavia, McCulloch said she felt she was complying with Ranzenhofer's directive by reporting the campaign appearance to him the next day.

Nick Langworthy, Erie County GOP chairman and ally of Chris Collins, the candidate Bellavia would like to defeat, was at the campaign event in Attica. CORRECTION:  Langworthy contacted The Batavian and said, "Bob McCarthy reported falsely that I attended the GOP event Attica. I did not attend that event."

Langworthy denies he was involved in McCulloch's dismissal.

While McCulloch said she was given no official reason for her termination, she believes it's a logical conclusion.

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