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Monroe County Board of Ethics finds sheriff violated code appearing in TV ad

todayDecember 19, 2023 2

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Board of Ethics has cited Sheriff Todd Baxter for his appearance in a television commercial for a local car dealer.

This follows a whistleblower complaint that raised questions over tv ads promoting a dealership’s collision shop and whether an elected official should be actively promoting a private business.

The complaint also specifically makes reference to sunrise anchor Brennan Somers and his previous reporting on the matter.

The sheriff appears as a civilian in the ads speaking about his annual trips to compete in an off- road race. There’s no reference, logo, or uniform pointing to his official position.

Through the board’s investigation, members say while under many sections of code, they could find no standing for violations, they did conclude:

“It is our opinion that the participation by Sheriff Baxter in the TV Ad did result in a violation of the provisions of the County Ethics Code §45-13.A. His presence in the TV Ad wherein his name appeared on the screen could lead a reasonable person to conclude that the Sheriff was lending his public persona, popularity or position in support of this particular collision service.”

The sheriff had previously said he would not take part in any more ads and he’s followed through with that commitment. 

The ethics board adds compliance with code would be met if Baxter made a formal, written request to the dealership to stop airing the commercials.

Baxter released a statement Tuesday morning saying he’s taken those steps, adding he has not been in a commercial such as the one in question in more than 600 days, and he asked the commercial to be pulled.

Read the full Board of Ethics report below

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Board of Ethics has cited Sheriff Todd Baxter for his appearance in a television commercial for a local car dealer.

This follows a whistleblower complaint that raised questions over tv ads promoting a dealership’s collision shop and whether an elected official should be actively promoting a private business.

The complaint also specifically makes reference to sunrise anchor Brennan Somers and his previous reporting on the matter.

The sheriff appears as a civilian in the ads speaking about his annual trips to compete in an off- road race. There’s no reference, logo, or uniform pointing to his official position.

Through the board’s investigation, members say while under many sections of code, they could find no standing for violations, they did conclude:

“It is our opinion that the participation by Sheriff Baxter in the TV Ad did result in a violation of the provisions of the County Ethics Code §45-13.A. His presence in the TV Ad wherein his name appeared on the screen could lead a reasonable person to conclude that the Sheriff was lending his public persona, popularity or position in support of this particular collision service.”

The sheriff had previously said he would not take part in any more ads and he’s followed through with that commitment. 

The ethics board adds compliance with code would be met if Baxter made a formal, written request to the dealership to stop airing the commercials.

Baxter released a statement Tuesday morning saying he’s taken those steps, adding he has not been in a commercial such as the one in question in more than 600 days, and he asked the commercial to be pulled.

Read the full Board of Ethics report below

Board of Ethics Report by News 8 WROC on Scribd Read More Monroe CountyRochesterFirst  

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