BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When a lawmaker steps down under a cloud of ethics questions, it's fairly common to hear the candidates -- especially those who then run for that seat -- talk about how they will clean things up.
Outgoing Senator Marc Panepinto is that outgoing senator under an ethics investigation, and Democratic candidate Amber Small is the newcomer touting ethics reforms.
That’s why 2 On Your Side found it worth noting that Small attended a campaign fundraiser Thursday night that Panepinto hosted for her at his law offices.
Small’s platform is clear.
“We need comprehensive reforms,” she said after the fundraiser.
But when asked about Panepinto’s ethics investigation by JCOPE, the Joint Commission On Public Ethics, Small seemed less certain. 2 On Your Side asked Small if attending his fundraiser contradicted her beliefs, considering he was being investigated.
“I don't know about that," Small said. "What I do know is I saw something cross my desk today that Mr. Chris Jacobs is under federal investigation by the FEC for campaign finance violations."
We looked into Small's claims against her Republican opponent, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, and could not verify them at this time.
Republican candidate Chris Jacobs responded to Small’s claim, and wrote the following statement to Channel 2:
"Amber Small’s accusation is untrue. This is another attempt by her campaign to disparage me for political gain. As for me, I will continue to focus on the issues critical to the citizens of the 60th Senate District."
Panepinto’s ethics probe, personal issues, and his announcement in March that he would not seek re-election were highly publicized earlier this year.
So we asked again, and the second time, Small said she did not want to speculate on that.
When Small first announced her candidacy in February, she was initially running against Panepinto. Before he backed out, Small sought to unseat him and called him dishonest.
But Thursday night, she appeared to have a change of heart.
“We have strong Democratic values. These are the same values that are shared in members throughout this district. We need someone who has strong Democratic values who can take those to Albany,” Small said.