Walker Will Ultimately be Judged by the Voters

Charles Walker has been a member of the Niagara Falls City Council since 1999, but unfortunately he is a lawmaker who has run afoul of the election law, according to the state attorney general, and he now faces four misdemeanor counts for allegedly failing to file campaign financial disclosure forms in 2014 and 2015 with the state board of elections.
         Walker has pleaded not guilty to the charges in Albany City Court and his defense attorney, Robert Restaino, appears confident that the missing records will soon be filed with the state board, adding that there’s no claim of any wrongful use of the campaign funds by Walker.
          We certainly understand that people make mistakes, and Walker seems to have the support of his colleagues on the City Council.  Chairman Andrew Touma said Wednesday he hopes Walker is able to submit the proper forms to the state elections board and put the matter behind him.
Council members Kristen Grandinetti, Andrew Touma and Charles Walker as a majority have approved many spending initiatives of Mayor Paul Dyster.

Council members Kristen Grandinetti, Andrew Touma and Charles Walker as a majority have approved many spending initiatives of Mayor Paul Dyster.

          But while Walker and his attorney are working hard to settle the charges filed by the Public Integrity Unit of the state attorney general’s office, the matter is now public, and while he has failed to file his disclosure forms or been late in the past, this is the first time he has been formally accused of violating election law.
             In the case of Walker, State Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman said “campaign finance laws exist for a reason–to protect voters and keep our democratic process honest and transparent.”  The idea, of course, is to keep track of who is giving the lawmaker money to stay in office and assess if there’s any appearance of a conflict between the donors and his job performance.  It is important to keep tabs on lawmakers across the board so that their supporters are not able to, shall we say, buy them without any accountability to the public.
             We certainly hope Walker has learned his lesson, if indeed the charges hold up, and that going forward he complies with all of the laws on the books—campaign or otherwise—as he carries out his duties as a city lawmaker.
             Of course, he will ultimately be judged by the voters who have given him five terms in office to serve their interests.   Whatever the reasons, and there could be many, he allegedly has not complied with the state election law and now finds himself as a defendant while still working for the residents of Niagara Falls as a councilman.
              Walker has been a deacon at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, a Sunday school teacher, and a lead singer in the Male Chorus.  He has been manager of the community outreach department at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center since 2007 and a board member of Urban Renewal Agency.  Now he can add defendant to his otherwise positive resume.
                Again, for his sake and for the sake of the city, we hope Walker can recover from his problems and try to repair his image in the community.  If he wants to continue to serve as a city lawmaker, he needs to send a signal to voters that it won’t happen again.   If he’s able to beat the charges against him, voters may give him a second chance because there’s no indication he misused the campaign funds, just didn’t report them as required by law.
                    Walker is now, so to speak, on the clock when it comes to his shelf life as a councilman.  If he wants to continue as a lawmaker, he must comply with the law himself.


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