County Executive violated ethics, Dems say

By Jillian Marshall

February 5, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 11:16 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) After showing up wearing a Broome County Sheriff's deputy's uniform at Sheriff David Harder's campaign kick off last week, County Executive Debbie Preston may be investigated by the county's ethics board.

Broome County Democratic Committee Chairman James Testani sent a letter to the ethics board Tuesday asking it to open an investigation into Preston wearing the uniform.

Testani argued multiple points, saying by wearing the uniform, Preston, who is a republican, is discrediting those who earned the badge.

"You're doing something at a political event, utilizing something that belongs to the county, using something that is earned by people who really worked hard to get that badge, to get that uniform, to get that baton," Testani said.

He also said she violated election law because she used county property -- the uniform -- at a political event.

"The concept that you could borrow or use or make or whatever, an official county uniform, wear it to a political event and think nothing is wrong, shows an arrogance of power," Testani said.

It's not illegal for Preston to wear the uniform because she was not impersonating an officer.

Twice Action News asked Preston for a statement, but the elected official did not respond.

Instead, her Deputy County Executive John Bernardo -- who is appointed by Preston -- released a statement saying: "The County Executive has a sense of humor and wore a uniform in jest. The State Sheriff's Association and State Board of Elections found nothing wrong."

Harder said he saw nothing wrong with Preston wearing the uniform and that it was just for fun. He added that it's nothing more than county democrats "stirring the pot."

It is not yet known when or if the ethics board will take action.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.