Election season may still be three months away, but one democratic candidate for Broome County Executive is calling for statewide campaign finance reform, starting with the current county executive. As Elyse Mickalonis tells us, Tarik Abdelazim says Albany’s bad habits are rubbing off on Debbie Preston, but the Deputy County Executive says that’s just not true.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- With months to go before the election, the race for the Broome County Executive seat is in full swing with Democratic candidate Tarik Abdelazim calling for campaign fund reform.
"I think at every level of government we have seen the corrosive influence of big money on our democracy. I think there is a push for reform at every level,” said Tarik Abdelazim.
Abdelazim pointed out what he says are "questionable campaign finance habits" of Albany politicians and said too many local politicians have adopted those methods. He's even pointing the finger at current county executive and opponent Debbie Preston.
"There are more than 7,000 items charged to her credit card, many in the hundreds of dollars, but more importantly, you look and see she's used that for her personal cell phone, filling up at gas stations, restaurant tabs,” said Abdelazim.
But Deputy County Executive John Bernardo says Preston has not done anything wrong, adding that she disclosed more information than she needed to.
"Anybody who makes a donation of less than $100, their name and information does not have to be put on the campaign disclosure report, but Mrs. Preston chose to put full disclosure for all the names,” said Bernardo.
Abdelazim says he wants Preston to address the charges on her card with the public.
"The question is: One, are you honest with people and two who are you accountable to? Are you accountable to the Broome County taxpayers or big donors?" asked Abdelazim.
But Bernardo says the county executive only has the public’s interest in mind. He pointed to her recent discovery of over $250,000 of flood-related fraud abuses as an example.
"This is what the people have hired her to do and this is what she’s delivering on and for anyone to imply otherwise is just wrong,” said Bernardo.
Abdelazim says he’s still committed to full disclosure and spending restrictions beyond what the law requires.