Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Democrats Question Vacco Hiring, Call for Full Cooperation with Grand Jury Probe

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Rochester, New York July 31, 2013. In the wake of a grand jury having been impaneled to investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing in relation to local development corporations contracting with Monroe County, Democrats in the Legislature have called on the Brooks administration to cooperate fully with the probe. Democrats also chided the move by Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks to contract with Republican attorney Dennis Vacco to review services provided by LDCs in the county as duplicative and wasteful.

“This entire situation should be a major red flag for county taxpayers,” said Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews (D-Rochester). “Why does the County Executive need to hire another taxpayer-funded lawyer? If she had concerns about the services LDCs were providing she should have had counsel review the transaction before entering into these multimillion dollar deals, including a 20-year deal worth over $225M of taxpayer funds. She has an entire law department, a special counsel to her office and outside attorneys she already contracts with at her disposal. It's absurd that she needs another lawyer to review the services of LDCs at this point in time, long after these contracts have been entered into."

The current County Executive has a long history of spending tens—if not hundreds—of thousands of dollars hiring outside attorneys to perform work that could be done by the County Law Department, the County Attorney, the Special Counsel to the County Executive, or the County Legislature. Scandals involving the Monroe County Water Authority, Robutrad, Monroe Community Hospital and others have led to the hiring of more outside attorneys.

In addition to the State Attorney General’s investigation, which is apparently being assisted by the FBI, the State Comptroller’s office has also looked into LDCs in the recent past and found serious issues. These audits of Monroe County's Upstate Telecommunications Corp and Monroe Security and Safety Systems LDCs led to questions of improper bidding processes and possible wasteful spending. One audit revealed that a consultant on an LDC contract, who also made significant campaign contributions to local Republicans, was paid more than $820,000 in consulting fees during a one year and nine month period.

“The county has always defended the use of LDCs as a way to save taxpayers money, yet they have consistently failed to substantiate any of their claims. Now facing an Attorney General's investigation, how much more taxpayer money will the county spend in an attempt to validate their past actions." Andrews added.