The Democratic opponent of Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, is filing a complaint with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics over a taxpayer-funded mailer and telephone poll she claims is “political in design and character.”

The mailer in question was sent to Maziarz’s district and highlights his support for a bill that would prohibit welfare recipients from using their Benefit cards to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets or be used at strip club ATMS.

In a complaint filed with JCOPE, Democrat Amy Hope Witryol alleges that the mailer was sent out to coincide with Maziarz’s re-election effort and is “inaccurate or incomplete as to the legislation described.”

She also claims a telephone poll was conducted for “campaign purposes.”

The mailer, which declares Maziarz is “Fighting To Protect Your Tax Dollars” doesn’t feature the lawmaker’s picture.

Mailers like these are a gray area that comes with the power of incumbency for state lawmakers, said Russ Haven of NYPIRG.

“That little bit of a difference is an edge,” he said.

But lawmakers say that mailers are used to send out unfiltered information to constituents.

And there’s nothing on the mailer that appears to violate the law or JCOPE regulations. The state Senate has a self-imposed roughly one-month black out period for incumbents that prevents them from sending out official mailers on the taxpayer’s dime and sitting here in August, the Maziarz mailer complies with that rule.

At the very least, it seems like JCOPE’s complaint box is being used again (see Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan’s complaint filed against Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous) as a tool for political opponents to score a few points off an incumbent.

maziarzmailer