(COLUMBIA COUNTY, N.Y.) – On October 25, 2021, Columbia County Sheriff David P. Bartlett announced that an Alabama company, Black Creek Integrated Corporation, was selected as the new records management system for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). On August 18, 2021, the Board of Supervisors, on Bartlett’s urging, approved a $57,000 contract with the company.
According to the Columbia County Democratic Committee, a mere eight weeks before the Board of Supervisors approval, Bartlett’s campaign accepted a $500 donation from Black Creek. In total, Bartlett has accepted $3,500 from the Alabama-based corporation.
“This is corruption, there’s no other way to describe it,” said Sam Hodge, chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee (CCDC). “Taking money from an Alabama-based corporation that has business with the CCSO is unethical and wrong. Why on earth would a corporation in Alabama donate to a political candidate in Columbia County, New York, if not to gain access and secure a contract worth thousands? This is a pay-to-play scheme, plain and simple.”
CCDC will be filing a formal complaint with the New York State Board of Elections and will be requesting that the New York State Attorney General’s Office open a criminal investigation.
According to public campaign finance records, Black Creek is not the only CCSO vendor that has donated to Bartlett’s campaign. Another company, Global Tel Link Corporation — the telecommunication company that was awarded the contract to provide the inmate telephone system for the Columbia County Jail — donated $500 to the Bartlett campaign.
By accepting these donations, Bartlett also likely violated the Columbia County Code of Ethics (“Code”). Bartlett, who is a county employee under Section 48-2 of the Code, is not permitted to accept “directly or indirectly” more than $75 “under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence himor could reasonably be expected to influence him or her in the performance of his or her official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his or her part (see, Section 48-8a).”
Similarly, Bartlett had an obligation when he sought approval from the Board of Supervisors on August 18 to disclose “on the official record the nature and extent of any direct or indirect financial or other private interest he ha[d] in such legislation (see, Section 49-8e).”
“Bartlett must return these donations immediately and apologize to the voters of Columbia County,” said Hodge. “The next Sheriff will have to work hard to restore voters’ faith in the Office. Don Krapf, the Democratic candidate, believes in transparency and integrity and is the right person to lead the Sheriff’s Office into the future.”
Bartlett’s Democratic opponent, Don Krapf, is a 24-year veteran of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, starting his career in 1998 as a Deputy Sheriff. He has been recognized for his accomplishments and promoted through the ranks to his current command position, First Sergeant in charge of the Security Services Division.
Jackie Salvatore has been designated as the next Undersheriff by Krapf. Bartlett has left this position vacant and has declined to announce his selection. Salvatore, a 28-year veteran of the State Police, spent much of her time with the State Police working in their Employee Assistance Program, which seeks to help police and their families deal with mental stress. She retired five years ago as the director of the program.