Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs ethics board dismisses complaints

Finance commissioner candidate Patricia Morrison and two supporters sought ruling

The Saratoga Springs Board of Ethics has dismissed two complaints filed prior to the June 25 Democratic primary for city finance commissioner.

The primary was won by challenger Patricia Morrison, but incumbent finance commissioner Michele Madigan is campaigning for re-election on the Independence and Working Families ballot lines, since those parties endorsed her.

The ethics board, in a July 16 decision, found no basis for charges in a letter Morrison wrote to Madigan in June, saying Madigan accepted an improper “gift” when she accepted a $1,000 campaign contribution from Matthew Jones, an attorney representing Saratoga Hospital in efforts to rezone land near the hospital from residential to allow construction of a medical office building. Jones also hosted a fundraiser for Madigan in March.

The city Ethics Board found that “the receipt of a campaign contribution by a city elected official” is not a “gift” in violation of Saratoga Springs’ Code of Ethics.

In a separate Aug. 9 decision, the board also dismissed a complaint from former city public works director William McTygue and Ann Bullock, both supporters of Morrison, saying that there was an conflict of interest in Eddie Miller, chairman of the Saratoga County Independence Party and an employee of the city Department of Public Works, co-owning an energy-brokerage company that brokered two city energy contract. The contracts for gas and electricity were approved by the City Council in May.

The company that brokered those contracts, EnergyNow Consultants, is co-owned by Miller and his wife, Joanne Foresta, who is an energy broker. Foresta is on the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board, but the ethics panel said that didn’t require her to disclose any interest she had in the energy contracts.

The board found there was no conflict, even if the broker receives fees from the contracts, because Miller’s city job gives him no control or say over the city energy purchases, and the contracts are otherwise subject to regulation by the state’s Public Service Commission.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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