Collins Tweets

16 Sep

This morning around 9:44, a tweet came across my phone from Chris Collins. Here’s what it said:

If you were to follow that link, it leads to this article by Matt Spina about all of the Collins-supported candidates who won their Independence Party primaries, including Lynne Dixon and Kevin Hardwick.

But look carefully at that tweet. It’s not from Chris Collins. It’s not from Collins for our Future. It’s from “eriecountyexec“. Most of the tweets posted using that account are lauding various projects that Mr. Collins believes are beneficial to the county and helpful to its citizens. A politician using social media to tout how great of a job he’s doing is totally normal and expected. The website listed for that account is ““.

What’s not expected is electioneering.

The county executive’s opinions concerning electoral successes last night among his slate of candidates is something that should not be going out on an Erie County Executive twitter account – an account that will probably be controlled in the future by other county executives. It should be for county business, not electioneering.

I tweeted this:

I would like @eriecountyexec to explain why he’s using _that_ Twitter account for non-county, political purposes. #WNY

and this:

Is @eriecountyexec suggesting that his slate winning primaries in the detestable Independence Party is “great” for all in Erie County?

Naturally, no one responded. So I sent the following to Collins’ spokesman, Grant Loomis:

Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 10:35 AM
To: [redacted]

Grant – The “eriecountyexec” twitter account appears to be the one that Mr. Collins uses for county business:

I’m the Chief Executive Officer of Erie County, NY. Running Erie County like the billion dollar business that it is.
Location: Erie County, New York
Time Zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Joined: Mon 23 Feb 2009 20:28
Following: 24
Followers: 106
Updates: 65
Favorites: 0
Friend: Yes
Notifications: No
Protected: No

At 9:44 this morning, a tweet was sent from that account that read as follows:

Great night last night.

Can you please provide me a comment as to why the Erie County Executive’s twitter account would be commenting in any way on the goings-on in an Independence Party primary race? Shouldn’t the county executive’s official pronouncements have to do with county business, and not partisan politics? Shouldn’t Collins’ opinion concerning county races be reserved for a “Collins for our Future” campaign twitter account, and not for the account he uses for county business and the promotion thereof?

I’m happy to include whatever comment or statement in a post.

Thanks in advance,


The tweet in question, along with one having to do with a “Taxpayers’ Newsletter”, was deleted sometime this afternoon. I guess that’s all the comment/statement they had.

29 Responses to “Collins Tweets”

  1. Mike In WNY September 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Since you acknowledge that lauding a project is ok, by extension, lauding people he thinks would be beneficial to the County is no different. It’s not like he was offering a bag of groceries for votes.

  2. bflofirst September 16, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    So they recognized their error and removed it. That is good. You did your job as watchdog and they will hopefully be more careful in the future.

  3. Derek J. Punaro September 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    I really don’t think it matters. At what point does technology need to stop being segregated by “official” and “unofficial” versions, and can just be considered attributed to the individual? Before you know it, people will be required to have separate mouths for business and personal use.

  4. Marc Odien September 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Alan is missing the bigger reason for why this is a problem. At 9:44am the county executive and his assistants (who probably really update the twitter account) were doing political work on the county dime.

  5. HapKlein September 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Great connection of details, Alan.

    What is worrisome is the fact that Collins is using every political trick in the book to consolidate and expand his authority. It is obvious he does much of this on taxpayer time and obviously if caught he will retreat muttering multitude acts of contrition. Lets face it, he has ambitions for higher office and Erie County is a stepping stone.

  6. Derek J. Punaro September 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Typing “Great night last night” constitutes political work? I think you’re reaching just a bit. Much ado about absolutely nothing.

    • Marc Odien September 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

      I agree its a stretch, but If who wins the IP line is not county business, then what is it? Sounds political to me.

  7. Eisenbart September 16, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Maybe it was an accident?

    I just took more time and energy for me to post this than whomever posted that tweet.

    • Alan Bedenko September 17, 2009 at 6:09 am #

      Maybe it was an accident, but I doubt it. That Twitter account is posted to once every few days – in other words, pretty deliberately. As in, when someone remembers to update it. (If you’re updating Twitter once every few days as part of a social media strategy, you’re doing it wrong).

      Secondly, the de minimis arguments presented by some are all well and good. But it’s no different than if an Assemblyman sent out a letter or lit piece touting the electoral victory of one of his allies, and using franking privileges or taxpayer money to send it out.

      Plus, the very existence of the Independence Party is a fucking horror for the people of New York, so the only “good night” that organization of misfits could produce would be the night of its own demise.

  8. buffaloobserver September 17, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    Just wondering if doing political work on county time is in the six sigma playbook? I think not.
    The self proclaimed “non politician” Collins is such a hypocrite he might even make Byron Brown look good.

  9. Derek J. Punaro September 17, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    I think it’s completely different than sending out a letter or lit drop. Typing that statement took no more than 5 seconds at no cost to anyone. Not true of preparing a written communication. It was a thought aired by a person in public office. Choosing to disagree with the statement is fine, but squabbling over the method of delivery in this case is a pointless debate. Do you want your elected officials to be more open with their constituents so you actually know what they’re thinking, or do you want to reduce yet another channel to PR-approved content only? I’ll take the former.

  10. steve September 17, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    this is all pointless because anyone who uses twitter has WAY too much time on their hands and probably shouldn’t be worried who is tweeting what.

    • Alan Bedenko September 17, 2009 at 11:58 am #

      What amounts to a 140 character text message does not take up an inordinate amount of time.

  11. Hank September 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    For those who remember when your phone was attached to the fucking wall, or by a cord to the wall for a desk phone, and waiting for the other person on your party line to get the fuck off the phone so you could make a call, Twitter is pointless. So is texting. Never done either, never will. 16 year old girl in my county died last week from texting while driving. what the hell a kid needs with a cell phone will remain beyond me. Twitter is for those with nothing better to do. Politicians SHOULD always have something better to do.

  12. Russell September 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm #

    BP always chastises people for questioning or commenting on why he does or does not post something. He states regularly that there could be a thousand reasons why he did or did not post something. No one knows what he’s thinking and no one is permitted to read into anything he posts to guess what he may or may no be thinking, or draw conclusions based on links he provides. However, it is okay for him to question others and read into their actions, statements or posting patterns for him to determine what they are thinking or doing whenever he feels like it.

    • Alan Bedenko September 17, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

      I never questioned Collins’ motives for doing anything.

      The matter speaks for itself. Collins used an Erie County Executive twitter account to post about how pleased Chris Collins was with an electoral victory the night before.

      Apparently, it was worth being deleted after I brought attention to it.

  13. The Humanist September 17, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    @ Russell – Pundit is not doing it on the county taxpayers’ dime.

    And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a tweet celebrating a “great night” followed by a link to an article on the IP’s primary victories is, as Pundit correctly termed it, partisan electioneering. That the CE’s office quickly deleted the tweet once BP raised the issue further supports this.

  14. Russell September 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Humanist, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out most BP’s motivations either, but he still declared that off limits on his site. If this is a question of legality, I would think an attorney would know there’s a more proper forum to address that question. This site is not associated with any law enforcement organization. BP doesn’t even know who funds the account. Their removal or links do not prove anything. Therefore, it’s just one poster questioning the posts of another poster–a major no-no on this site.

  15. paul September 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    no one cares about twitter

  16. The Humanist September 18, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    @ Russell – let me put it into bold caps to see if you can hear me:


  17. Derek J. Punaro September 18, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    Is Collins still working for a $1/month? In that case, it cost the county $0.0000087. Significantly less than a dime.

    Have fun storming the castle.

  18. Russell September 18, 2009 at 9:19 am #


    1. You, Pundit and no one on here knows if this is on the taxpayers’ dime.

    2. This is not a law enforcement agency. If you are concerned with lawbreaking, there is a proper forum for that.

    • Alan Bedenko September 18, 2009 at 9:47 am #

      @Punaro – no. Not since the control board went into advisory status.

      @Russell – You think that the Erie County Executive should be using his office’s twitter account for electioneering? Should county letterhead be used in lit pieces in favor of Collins’ favored candidates?

  19. Russell September 18, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    Has county letterhead been used in lit drops? Do you know for sure who funds this twitter account? You’re making accusations without any proof, just innuendo.

    • Alan Bedenko September 18, 2009 at 11:01 am #

      Twitter accounts are funded?

      I didn’t say he used county letterhead in lit drops. What I said was that him using the “eriecountyexec” twitter account to promote his IP candidates is no different than him using county letterhead in a lit drop.

  20. Russell September 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    And I am saying I it is different if no taxpayer money is being used to buy/fund/maintain/whatever the account. County letterhead is paid for with county dollars. If twitter accounts are not paid for with taxpayer dollars then it’s not on the taxpayers’ dime.

    • Alan Bedenko September 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

      1. Collins isn’t at work at 9:44? Shit, then where is he? That’s not running govt like a business.

      2. Money aside, it gives the imprimatur of county approval of the success of an IP slate.

      3. If it was perfectly ok, and I’m just being a tool, I wonder why it got deleted?

      I love it when everyone rushes to the defense of his royal highness the Earl of Spaulding, Chris de Collins. You know how you guys accuse Obama fans of being? Yeah, like that.

  21. Russell September 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    I’m not naive enough to think the County Executive job is 9 to 5. Most elected executive positions are not, as many higher level legislative positions are not either. I don’t know if Brian Higgins is in his office solely doing official business at 9:44 am just like I do not know if Chris Collins is. I also woud not be surprised if either one of them, or most other elected officials, is in his office or at an official event/meeting at 7:00 pm.

    On point 2, I can see how it could give that impression, even if it was not actual, and that explains point 3. It does not make it wrong or point to wrong-doing, just that it could have given an incorrect impression.

    And seriously, digging through old posts and links on a twitter account to play gotcha is not comparable in any way to criticizing the bunglings of our president.

  22. Russell September 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    I don’t know what happened the first time I replied, but hopefully this won’t eventually show as a duplicate.

    I am not naive enough to the the County Executive job is strictly 9-5. I don’t think any elected executive position is and most legislative postions are not either. I doubt Brian Higgins is in one of his offices everyday weekday from 9am-5pm solely conducting official business, just as I doubt Collins is, or just about any other elected official. I also think any of them could be found working on official business many evenings and weekends. Just because it as 9:44 am does not mean anything.

    On point 2, I can see how you might get that impression from the post and that explains point 3. The removal of the post does not prove anything was wrong or point to any wrong-doing, it could just be an admittal that some could misconstrue so it’s best to remove it. Really, you honestly think this rises to the same level as Obama worship? Pointing out how ridiculous digging through past posts and links on a twitter account in order to play gothca with a county executive is on par to criticizing people for discussing the bunglings and failings of the president–a president that has had one of the largest drops in approval ratings in the post-war era? Seriously?

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