Schenectady

Council leader acknowledges use of city email for political event, deems it harmless oversight

Council president Marion Porterfield.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Council president Marion Porterfield.

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady City Council President Marion Porterfield acknowledged Friday that she used an official city email to pass along a political-fundraiser invitation to colleagues, an apparent transgression brought to light hours earlier by rival Republican officials.

Porterfield, a Democrat and the leader of the city’s all-Democratic council, forwarded an invitation for a fundraising event with Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado to the city clerk, who, by request, forwarded the email to the rest of the City Council members.

The fundraiser is being held today in Schenectady, hosted by the Schenectady Black Political Action Committee. The PAC was created in 2021 to support candidates of color, including Porterfield.

“It’s inappropriate,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said of the matter. “I don’t know if it was done by accident or done intentionally. Normally in those things, we’d look to [see] if it’s political or, if government resources are used, we’d expect it to be reimbursed to the city.”

In an interview with The Daily Gazette Friday afternoon, Porterfield said her purpose in forwarding the fundraiser information wasn’t political.

“No, [it was] just to make them aware,” Porterfield said of her fellow council members.

Porterfield criticized her detractors, including Schenectady Republican Committee Chairman Matt Nelligan, who emailed media members Friday to bring to light Porterfield’s use of government email to share the fundraiser invite.

“But in the future their whims will not come to my City Council email because clearly the GOP is trying to find everything they could possibly find to discredit me and just make my life miserable in general,” Porterfield said.

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Friday’s press release to the media was Nelligan’s latest political salvo targeting the Democratic leadership in City Hall. He was sharply critical of Porterfield, calling for her resignation. The committee chair contended that such an email exchange violates civil service law section, public officer’s law and city code.

“To me, she deserves punishment for these things,” Nelligan said. “She’s an elected official. She should know better, so her and I aren’t buddies.”

Nelligan accused Porterfield of using the account to promote a fundraiser associated with her political coffers. The chair said he’s had his eye on the SBPAC event for weeks now because it was previously scheduled to be held at Schenectady County Community College, a public institution.

The event is now scheduled for the Bridge Community Center on Crane Street. 

SBPAC was created in 2021 to support candidates of color. Delgado, who was tapped by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this following Brian Benjamin’s resignation, is a Schenectady native.

Porterfield claimed that she regularly receives event-related emails. One elected official – whom she left unnamed to avoid “dragging them into this” – often shoots out campaign emails to the same address, she said.

It’s unclear who provided the email that originated with Porterfield to the Republican Party. But Porterfield said she’s uncomfortable and dismayed by the possibility that one of her colleagues on the council chose to do so rather than simply speaking with her about the matter.

“If you really thought that ‘Oh my God, that shouldn’t happen’, you could’ve just simply said, ‘Hey, don’t do that, here’s why,’” Porterfield said. “But you would rather have it as a gotcha moment.”

Nelligan declined to provide the source.

“I’m not blowing anybody in because, like you, I like to keep my sources,” he said.

Schenectady GOP leaders earlier this month claimed that Porterfield was benefiting from tax exemptions on a property owned by her deceased mother. Nelligan repeated such remarks in a press release regarding the email incident.

Dismissing the allegations in early September, Porterfield said the property was still in probate, the process of verifying and settling an estate after a family member dies. Records show that her $78,000 home in Hamilton Hill is still in the name of her mother, who died last year, and the taxes are paid at a reduced rate.

Schenectady’s Republican Committee, which resurrected in February, has also criticized the city’s Black Lives Matter mural and called on the Board of Education to expand its community police officer program in city schools, which it did in May. 

More: All NewsEverything Schenectady

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

One Comment

Ignatious P. Reilly

Ummm, yeah. OK sure. Now explain why you are paying reduced taxes on a dead persons home that i “going through probate”? Oh. I see. You are above all others and have the magic trifecta. Black, Democrat, Liberal. Therefore laws and morals do not apply to you, do they Queen Porterhouse? You should be removed from your position immediately and prosecuted for tax evasion.

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