The Purloined Plan Discovered Documents Point to Zellner Problem By Addison Gardiner

Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner might have another stern chat with ECDC staff member Erich Weyant about not being so careless and sloppy with important political documents - especially when those documents appear to show Zellner is conducting political business on the taxpayer dime, when he’s supposed to be working as “Chief of Staff” at the Legislature.

It is believed Weyant is the Zellner political staff member who was responsible for having paperwork postmarked on time in order for Independence candidates to appear on the Democratic line against Legislature Republicans Dr. Kevin Hardwick and Ed Rath. 

Did Weyant really get the paperwork in on time, was it late, and was it the postal clerk’s fault, were the designations dropped in the mail after the deadline to appear on the ballot?  These are questions now being addressed in a courtroom.  The ongoing case has been costly to the Erie County Democratic Committee, both in time and resources.  There is still a chance the two candidates Zellner wants to run against incumbent County Legislators Kevin Hardwick and Ed Rath will be tossed off the ballot. 

Now Zellner will have to ask Weyant why on earth he was careless with a folder of confidential documents that contained the top secret “Campaign Plan – Comptroller David Shenk” that has now found its way into the hands of political operatives who, shall we say, would be happy if Frank Max were Chairman of the ECDC.

Amongst the documents in the folder that is believed to once be in the possession of Weyant are printed copies of emails from Jeremy Zellner that are time stamped during the day. These emails indicate he is conducting campaign/political work from a private email account during work hours.

We know specifics.  One of the emails addresses the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) and their level of financial support.  All the Moreland Commission needs to do is cross reference Zellner’s emails and his timesheets in the Erie County Personnel Department.

What’s most mind blowing about the folder of information now in the possession of Zellner’s political opponents: why would you PRINT copies of emails that could lead to big trouble if Jeremy Zellner’s time sheets show he was “on the clock” at the Legislature while conducting political business?

“We are going to let Jeremy keep shooting his mouth off on ‘political corruption and the Moreland Commission.’  He has no idea what could hit him, how damaging these emails are,” our source said. “We could release Zellner’s emails publicly.  Could be days, could be weeks, it could be months.  He can always come clean about his private email account and when he’s conducting political work.  You know what they say, people in glass houses…”

The confidential “Campaign Plan – Comptroller David Shenk” also shows the Poloncarz/Zellner-appointed Shenk using the public Office of Comptroller for campaign purposes, to pump out press releases to increase Shenk’s weak name I.D. and chances of winning:

“In the coming months the Comptroller’s Office should aggressively use earned media (press releases and press conferences) to boost Shenk’s name recognition.” 

There also appears to be coordination between government workers in the Comptroller’s Office and members of David Shenk’s campaign team:

“Make sure the gov staff and campaign staff are using the same schedule.”

Part of the “Campaign Plan – Comptroller David Shenk” clearly combines the public Comptroller’s Office as part of the private weekly campaign plan. Under the heading of “Press” a bullet point highlights the use of the bully pulpit once per week:

“Put out one press release from the Comptroller’s Office.”

The confidential memo gives insight on how ECDC staff members provide a “blueprint” for their countywide candidates.  Information is wide-ranging and includes voter history, enrollment data, press strategies, how to court unions, and fundraising. 

Team Shenk considered Congressman Brian Higgins or Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita to serve as honorary Chairman of Shenk’s first fundraiser in the Town of Boston.

As far as Zellner is concerned, I’m sure he’s shaking his head yet again on another Weyant blunder, this time being careless on what he’s doing with folders full of confidential emails and confidential campaign game plans.  Why is he even printing hard copies of the boss’s emails in the first place?

In the future the Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman may want to watch British director Guy Ritchie’s movie “Snatch” or grab some popcorn with Weyant to screen the Robert DiNero/Charles Grodin flick “Midnight Run” for insight on how to protect emails, documents and campaign plans. 

Both flicks involve handcuffing someone’s arm to a briefcase and to other people in order to keep an eye on important business. 

No doubt Zellner’s staffers should do the same in the future.

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