The Niagara County Republican Party is imploding in the aftermath of a Grand Jury being convened by the Albany County District Attorney’s Office investigating the campaign expenditures of former Senator George Maziarz.
Former Maziarz loyalists have turned State’s evidence after being threatened with criminal charges themselves, including State Senator Robert Ortt and former Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek.
Both men are likely to be forced to resign their positions.
When Ortt was North Tonawanda Treasurer, Maziarz had to convince him to run for Mayor (a position of lesser salary), so his wife was offered an allegedly no-show position on Maziarz’s campaign. Prosecutors are arguing that the offer constitutes a bribe, sources close to the situation tell The Chronicle.
The news is likely to break going into an election year, giving any opponent the runway and message to easily oust the young politician who has benefited mightily from the Maziarz political machine. Niagara County Republican operatives expect Ortt to resign the seat rather than attempt a brutal reelection effort.
It is rumored that Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dsyter and Wheatfeild Town Supervisor Robert Cliffe are both eying the seat.
Wojtaszek is an attorney formerly of the firm Harris Beach, which got caught up in a scandal relating to Niagara Community College’s contracting practices. The same source says that an ongoing probe into the College’s president James P. Klyczek is expected to reveal that he was corrupting the open bidding process in order to slide work to Harris Beach through one of the bidders.
Wojtaszek is an influential lobbyist who was intimately involved in the genesis of the Niagara Culinary Institute project housed in a portion of the former Rainbow Mall. That project was funded by the Cuomo administration — with architecture, design and construction contracts awarded to major political donors.
The construction manager on that $17 million project was LP Ciminelli. One of the firm’s executives, Kevin Schuler, was recently indicted with Louis Ciminelli. He serves on the NCCC Board of Trustees.