There is a troubling trend that is starting to appear in local and State politics of New York. A trend where we see the win at all costs attitude that led some politicians to victory in the State, abusing the newfound power they wield. At the State level there may be no better example than the Social Media Password Bill proposed by State Senator Kevin Parker (which we are continuing to discuss in-depth). At the local level, in the Southern Tier of New York the example may well be the Councilman-elect Dan Livingston.
Dan Livingston has a somewhat sordid past. He was a candidate for the fringe elements of the Progressive wing of Democrats in Broome County in 2017. In that year he was running for Broome County Clerk with the backing of Citizen Action.
In that race it was revealed to the public that Livingston had been convicted of theft in his younger years. This, along with a political message that did not resonate with voters, was leading to a loss in that race. So Livingston violated election law, with a last ditch political flyer containing vicious lies.
That isn’t a political opinion. Dan Livingston admitted this, voluntarily, to Spectrum News on the eve of the election, November 7, 2017. His justification for violating the law does not evoke images of Robin Hood,
“I’ve seen a lot of campaigns unfold over the years and I’ve seen if you don’t fight back, you fall down.”
This admission, that some considered slanderous, was a violation of NY Election Law sections 17-150 & 17-154 [emphasis added]
“By abduction, duress or any forcible or fraudulent device or contrivance whatever impedes, prevents or otherwise interferes with the free exercise of the elective franchise by any voter, or compels, induces or prevails upon any voter to give or refrain from giving his vote for or against any particular person at any election…”
and Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York 9 CRR-NY 6201.1
…the following is hereby adopted by the New York State Board of Elections pursuant to section 3-106 of the Election Law as the fair campaign code for the State of New York. No person, political party or committee during the course of any campaign for nomination or election to public office or party position shall, directly or indirectly, whether by means of payment of money or any other consideration, or by means of campaign literature, media advertisements or broadcasts, public speeches, press releases, writings or otherwise, engage in or commit any of the following:
(b) Political practices involving subversion or undermining of political parties or the electoral process including, but not limited to, the preparation or distribution of any fraudulent, forged or falsely identified writing or the use of any employees or agents who falsely represent themselves as supporters of a candidate, political party or committee.
(d) Any acts intended to hinder or prevent any eligible person from registering to vote, enrolling to vote or voting.
Undeterred, Livingston spent 2018 seeking elected office for the special election of the 2nd City Council seat of Binghamton, NY. It was on July 31, 2018 that Livingston, appearing on the talk radio program Binghamton Now on WNBF, was asked about the violation of election law. Livingston publicly re-confirmed on WNBF his willful violation, as well as his confirmation that he would violate the law again if in the same situation.
As a result (at least in part if not whole) of sweeping wins by Democrats across the State, Livingston won the 2018 election. Which apparently Livingston felt enabled him to take any action he wished. Thus, without taking an oath of office, prior to the official term of office, Dan Livingston asserted himself as the voice of the Binghamton City Council and owner of the Seal of the City of Binghamton.
It was on November 23, 2018, that Livingston conferred upon himself the right and legal privilege to create a several social media accounts in the name of the City Council. He spoke to no sitting member of the Council prior to doing this. He ignored seeking legal council from the City of Binghamton in making this decision. An action that potentially could have caused legal ramifications well beyond his currently non-existent elected office.
Adding to this usurping of existing elected officials rights, duties, and voice, Livingston included the official Seal of the City of Binghamton. Propping up an image of official authority that does not exist. In effect misrepresenting both the voters and the City in his actions and the potential material conveyed to the public.
At the time of this article the social media accounts has been re-titled with the addition of “unofficial”. This was done, as sources have confirmed to us, because of stern statements made to Livingston about the inappropriate nature of his actions. It is unclear if the potential legal ramifications of such assumed power were discussed as well. Even so, the social media page – which Livingstron alone controls – has retained the Seal of the City. That is a violation of City Government Law Article III section G-40 and the Supplemental Law Article II C-16,
“…the mayor shall have the custody of the seal of the city, and shall authenticate the acts of the council and all instruments and papers authorized so to be authenticated…”
Cause for continued concern
This may seem innocent enough by itself. Acts made in honest error by an individual eager to serve the public, as some supporters may say. Yet, given the voluntary admissions in the very recent past of violations of law, concern is due.
Livingston has apparently willfully placed himself above the law, and his future peers, in service to his ambition to wield power. Ostensibly this is in service to the public. More likely, based on his campaigns, in service of his fringe of the local political Party.
But, given the history and consistent nature of abuse of power and corruption in New York State, it may well be in the public interest to keep a very watchful eye on this Councilman-elect. Now and during his entire term in office.