Councilman Jerry Kaminski, who sought the Democrat endorsement for reelection on Monday but was denied, is under investigation by the Town of Cheektowaga’s Ethics Board. They are investigating conflict of interest allegations that shed light into the town’s longstanding culture of self dealing. The board hired an attorney who is currently conducting interviews with employees.
Kaminski owns a business that sells automotive parts. Upon his election to the Town Board, conflict of interests laws prevented him from continuing to conduct business with the Town.
It’s alleged that Kaminski instructed town procurement staff to purchase parts from one of two other retailers instead. A source familiar with the arrangement says that Kaminski had an agreement with those retailers to act as fronts — purchasing the parts through Kaminski’s firm but with their additional mark up.
From New York State’s Comptroller’s Office:
As a municipal officer or employee, your job by its very nature places you in a position of public trust. You are responsible for ensuring that public resources are used in the best interests of the public. You also have a duty to use the limited public resources available to you as effectively and efficiently as possible. When serving in your public capacity, the interests of your municipality must come before your own. In fact and appearance, your actions and interests must be above reproach. This brochure is intended to help you better understand New York State law as it pertains to conflicts of interest, and your responsibilities when your public and private interests conflict.
If you are an officer or employee of a municipality, the law applies to you, whether you are paid or unpaid, or a member of a municipal board, commission or agency. The term municipality encompasses almost every type of local government entity, including counties, cities (other than New York City), towns, villages, school districts, BOCES, fire districts, public libraries, town and county improvement districts, urban renewal agencies and industrial development agencies.
A contract includes any claim, account, demand against or agreement with a municipality – verbal or written, express or implied. Almost any business dealing you have with your municipality will involve a contract. Examples of contracts include purchase or sale agreements, construction agreements and service contracts, as well as vouchers for payment submitted to a municipality. A contract also includes the naming of a depository of public funds or the naming of an official newspaper of a municipality.
If you willfully enter into a contract in which you have a prohibited interest, the contract is null, void and unenforceable. If you willfully and knowingly violate the law by entering into a contract in which you have a prohibited interest, or by failing, when required, to disclose an interest in a contract, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor.