The race for Yates County Judge has taken a negative turn, with allegations that Jason Cook, the Republican candidate, violated New York State Public Officers Law when he held a position as Assistant District Attorney in Chemung County while living in Yates County.
Matthew Conlon, a Republican whose name appears on the Democratic line of the ballot for the office of County Judge, has distributed a mass mailing that says, Cook "...Placed his own interest ahead of the law when, as recently as July, he violated NYS Public Officers Law, section 3, (which states that a public officer must live in the county where they hold public office) by holding public office (assistant district attorney) in one county (Chemung), while living in another county (Yates).
Conlon says he was responsible for the mailer, but didn't put his name on it, "Because it isn't about me. This isn't political. These are the facts."
Cook left employment in Chemung County this summer. At the time, his campaign representative said he left the position to devote his time to the judge campaign.
By 5 p.m. Friday, Cook had not returned a call to The Chronicle-Express to comment, but he posted a response on his campaign facebook page:
"I'm proud to have a positive campaign that's focused on qualifications and experience.
Unfortunately, not everyone has taken the same high road. I've received dozens of complaints today from people who received an anonymous, nasty, negative mailing that attacks me and my character. I'm a grown man and can take criticism, but I find it completely underhanded and cowardly to send such false materials to voters without identifying who the sender is or including any return address. Yates County deserves better than that.
More than one of the people who complained about this negative mailing noticed that postage box on the "anonymous" mailing is identical to the one that was on Matt Conlon's mailing from earlier this week - Permit #1437 from Arlington, Texas.
I'll leave it to you, the voters, to draw your conclusions about this dirty, cheap, political trick."
Conlon says, "He signed a paper saying he lived in Yates County, and he signed an oath (in Chemung County), but he didn't include his address."
According to documents from the Unified Court System provided to The Chronicle-Express by Conlon, Cook's business address was listed as Chemung County District Attorney's Office in Elmira in April 2014. According to that letter, dated Oct. 7, 2016, Cook's business address was listed as a post office box in Penn Yan as of Sept. 13, 2016.
A Republican Party designating petition dated June 8, 2016 that was circulated to gather signatures in support of Cook's bid for the County Judge position lists Cook's home address as Baker Road.
The Chronicle-Express has reached out to Chemung County Attorney Bryan Maggs to determine if that county has any law that permits the employment of an assistant district attorney who lives outside of Chemung or a contiguous county. Maggs has not returned the call.