Westchester Republican Committee Chairman Doug Colety wants the NY Attorney General to investigate alleged misuse of a public facility by the Obama campaign.
According to a statement Colety made today, he wants Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to conduct an investigation of President Barack Obama's campaign and Greenburgh officials.
He is claiming that town officials let the Obama-Biden campaign use the town hall for two months to conduct a phone bank.
“The taxpayers of Greenburgh are being ripped off by the Obama campaign and Greenburgh’s Democratic leadership and I am calling on the New York State Attorney General to conduct a full investigation to see if any laws are being violated by this clearly unethical behavior," Colety said today. "Taxpayers have a right to know that public facilities are not being used for partisan political campaigns and no municipal building should ever be converted into in a campaign headquarters for any party.”
Feiner, however, says that everyone is allowed to use town hall without restrictions or having to pay. Feiner said that Democrats, Republicans, community organizations, as well as his critics have all used the facility in the past for free.
“Once you start restricting one group, then you have to restrict everyone,” said Feiner. “I’ve always felt that Town Hall should be the people’s building.”
Town Attorney Timothy Lewis said that the Town has not charged for use of the building, but that sometimes groups would make donations to the Town. As a result of this controversy the Town will create a policy that requires groups to pay for use of the building.
"I believe its the comptroller's interpretation that you have to charge under any circumstances," said Lewis.
Feiner said is fearful that less people will use the facility if the Town starts charging and that it will discourage activisim.
The Town supervisor said that the Obama-Biden campaign had been using the building since August, and that building is open and staffed with Town employees until 11 p.m. The Obama-Biden campaign used their own cell phones to make calls instead of Town phones, according to Feiner.
“I understand the concern about campaign making phone calls out of a municipal building for candidate, but they weren’t using Town phones,” said Feiner. “So, they were really just meeting here.”
Feiner also requested that the Obama-Biden campaign reimburse the Town, and the Town was given a $900 check.
The GOP chair said he's "disappointed" that the Obama campaign got "caught with their hand in the cookie jar for Supervisor (Paul) Feiner to decide that taxpayers should be reimbursed for this violation of the public trust that he knew about since August."
Feiner said he sent a letter to Coltey on Oct. 4 inviting Republicans to use the facilities, the same as the Democrats had.
“I don’t think people care who uses the buildings as long as no one is getting favored treatment,” said Feiner. “If you’re not involved in eh community you probably want the Town to charge [to use the building], but if you’re involved in civic activities, you probably like the fact that you have it [Town Hall] available for free.”
Westchester County Democratic Committee Vice Chairman Mark Lewis said that Colety "is turning an anthill into a mountain...In the past Greenburgh had let all community groups use Greenburgh town hall free of charge. Once the rental policy was set, the Obama campaign paid for use of town hall, end of story."
Lewis, a Scarsdale resident, said that in the village of Scarsdale, "Democratic and Republican Town Committees both rent rooms in Scarsdale Village Hall for their meetings. Now the Obama campaign is also renting out Greenburgh Town Hall for its meetings. Long standing precedent has been been in place in Scarsdale for both parties renting and using town facilities for partisan political purposes. Greenburgh has apparently chosen to do the same."
Also, an inquiry for comment made to Obama/Biden's press office in Washington was not immediately returned.
Stay tuned to Patch.com for updates on this story.