ERIE COUNTY, NY – In response to a recent Buffalo News story*, the campaign for Mark Poloncarz for County Executive today blasted Chris Collins for lining his rich friend’s pockets as working families in Erie County struggle. The story revealed that the law firm Harris Beach, handpicked by Collins as counsel to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA), has collected more than $740,000 in IDA business, all while pouring more than $60,000 into Collins’ campaign coffers.
“Chris Collins has used the ECIDA as his own political playground, allowing his wealthy friends to pay and play,” said campaign spokesman Peter Anderson. “The process by which Harris Beach was ‘chosen’ was shameful and disrespectful to the taxpayers of this county. Steering county business towards big donors is always the Collins way, and Chris Collins is always willing to help out a rich friend. His ‘pay-to-play’ ways don’t work for Erie County; the only people he’s concerned about are himself and his big campaign donors.”
Poloncarz has proposed that when elected County Executive, he will change the way IDAs do business. Currently, the county’s IDAs compete against one another to poach businesses from one town to another instead of working together to strengthen the county’s economy as a whole. Poloncarz proposed consolidating all of the county IDAs into a one-stop-shop for economic development that would encourage business development.
“Since Chris Collins was elected, he’s raised taxes and decimated services at the same time the community has lost approximately 14,000 jobs,” Anderson said. “However, not everyone has felt the pain because his cronies have benefited from tax breaks, lucrative contracts and sweetheart deals. Erie County deserves a County Executive who isn’t worried about the bank accounts of his campaign contributors, but whether you can make ends meet.”
* The Buffalo News, “Backer of Collins reaps big money from IDA deal,” October 1, 2011: http://www.buffalonews.com/city/communities/erie-county/article578351.ece