AG’s office: Doyle has no conflict of interest

by Carol Thompson

Legislator Shawn Doyle has no conflict-of-interest in his role as an Oswego County Legislator and the Town of Richland historian.

The New York State Office of the Attorney General issued an informal opinion in response to a request made by County Attorney Richard Mitchell.

In a letter dated Aug. 8, Kathryn Sheingold, assistant solicitor general in charge of operations, wrote that the position of town historian is not subordinate to the county historian or, by extension, the county legislature.

“We thus are of the opinion that the positions of town historian and member of the county legislature are compatible,” Sheingold wrote.

Mitchell requested the informal opinion following an ethics board complaint filed last year by then-legislature chairman Barry Leemann.

The complaint alleged Doyle was improperly using a small office the town provides to the historian.

The town rents space from the county.

The ethics board cleared Doyle of the charges, however, questioned whether he had a conflict-of-interest with county historian Justin White.

In a four-page opinion, Sheingold wrote that the positions are not incompatible because the county historian provides guidance and assistance to the towns but does not exercise the kind of authority or control that would implicate the principle of incompatible offices.

The opinion further states that a county historian may be, but need not be, appointed by the county legislature.

As with a town historian, the county historian is not compensated unless the governing board provides otherwise.

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