Ethics Board seeks 3G fine from Clerk of Quarter Sessions

Posted: January 26, 2010

The city Board of Ethics is seeking $3,000 in fines from Clerk of Quarter Sessions Vivian Miller, for allegedly using two different committees to fund her re-election campaign in 2007.

Miller, a Democratic ward leader and the chief custodian of the city's criminal-court records, raised $25,210 and spent $43,585 through her designated campaign organization, the Committee to Re-Elect Vivian Miller.

About $4,500 of the money went to Miller's ward organization, the 51st Democratic Ward Committee. Most of the ward committee's money was used to provide election-day cash for committee people, commonly known as "street money," but smaller amounts paid for a campaign driver and an election-night party, according to the ward's filings.

The Board of Ethics, responsible for enforcing the city's campaign finance ordinance, said that the use of two committees made it more difficult to track the flow of money through Miller's campaign, and violated a requirement that city candidates use only one committee to raise and spend money.

Miller's attorney, Samuel C. Stretton, said that Miller was trying to keep her re-election campaign finances separate from her ward organization and he vowed to fight the ethics board on the proposed fines.

Miller, 73, who makes more than $112,000 annually, did not return a call from the Daily News. She has held the Quarter Sessions post since 1992 but has signed up for the city's DROP program, suggesting that she might retire when her term expires in early 2012.

The Committee of Seventy, a civic watchdog group, called last year for abolition of the Quarter Sessions office. The state Supreme Court's chief justice, Ronald D. Castille, criticized its record-keeping this month and suggested that the state court system should take over its duties.

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