From the Morning Memo:

A representative from the State Board of Elections said questions about whether the Erie County executive’s campaign should pay for the use of a security detail at parades should be decided locally.

Republican-endorsed candidate Lynne Dixon claimed Wednesday, County Executive Mark Poloncarz should reimburse the county for sheriff’s deputies who escorted him during six parades over the Independence Day weekend. She said Poloncarz was campaigning and not working as a county employee at the time.

State BOE Public Information Officer John Conklin said the “threshold question” is whether the detail is a misuse of county resources for a private or non-governmental purpose. He said that is generally not an Election Law question and is usually related to local ethics code or standards of conduct that come from the General Municipal Law.

In Erie County, those violations are determined by a Board of Ethics.

“If the county has decided there is a credible threat against the Chief Executive that may be a reason to assign a security detail at the county’s expense,” Conklin said. “Based on the statement from the Sheriff that may be the case and it would mitigate against the argument that the County Executive has misused county resources for his own private purposes.”

However, how the county arrived to the decision there was a “credible threat,” Conklin said, is a “perfectly legitimate question” for the Dixon campaign to ask. He said details pertaining to whether the process was transparent, who was involved in the decision, if the county attorney weighed in, and what evidence was used to arrive at the decision are all relevant.

“Under state law if a public official uses state resources for a private or non-governmental purpose the official could reimburse the taxpayer, like a governor reimbursing the state for use of the state plane to attend a private fundraising function,” Conklin said. “He has the approval of JCOPE (the Joint Commission on Public Ethics) to do that.”

Conklin said if an ethics board determined reimbursement was necessary, the state Board of Elections would rule on whether the reimbursement was properly disclosed on a campaign finance report.