Niagara Falls Councilman Donta Myles has confirmed in comments on social media that the Niagara Falls City Council did not authorize a lobbying contract with Bolton St. Johns, the controversial lobbying firm that has been marred in conflict of interest scandals, influence peddling, and public corruption allegations related to the Seneca Nation gaming compact, the creation of the Buffalo Billion program, and several egregiously lucrative government contracts that have been awarded to Western New York construction giant Lou Ciminelli.
“We absolutely did not,” Myles wrote in response to being questioned whether the Council had approved the contract.
“Someone has some explaining to do,” he added.
On March 8, 2022, Mayor Robert Restaino unilaterally signed the $4,000 per month lobbying contract, which was illegal because he did not first secure the authorization of the Council.
Some political observers openly speculate that the Mayor’s illegal procurement of professional services may have prompted the resignation of Councilman John Spanbauer.
City Charter Article IV, Section 4.3 (6) directly addresses the issue of contracts: “He or she shall negotiate contracts, franchises, and other agreements on behalf of the City subject to ratification by the Council, and he or she shall assure that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the City or its residents in any such undertaking are faithfully kept and performed.”
The entirety of the professional services contract is less than four full paragraphs in length, with zero terms regarding directives, scope of work, reports, subject matter, or performance. No conflicts of interest are mentioned or disclosed, despite a slew of high-profile clients with obvious conflicts of interest.
The City of Niagara Falls, Delaware North, and the Seneca Nation have obvious conflicts of interest, making it nearly impossible for a lobbyist to fully advocate for any one of those particular clients without betraying the interests of the others.
The behavior amounts to honest services fraud and its widely rumored that federal investigators from the Southern District of New York have opened a preliminary probe into the wide-ranging public corruption scheme.
The document is signed by Restaino and DeRosa themselves.