YORKTOWN, NY – Taxpayers in the town of Yorktown may be surprised to learn they are making car payments and buying gas for Town Supervisor Ilan Gilbert’s political campaign activities. Photographs and videos obtained by journalists demonstrate Supervisor Gilbert misused his official town vehicle by driving it while collecting signatures for his political nominating petitions, to an endorsement interview with a down-county union, and even to attend his own re-election fundraiser less than a block from town hall, according to the Examiner.
Yorktown Republican Town Committee spokesperson Rob Puff said, “As demonstrated by the photographic and video evidence we received, Supervisor Gilbert has repeatedly misused his official town vehicle for nongovernmental purposes associated with advancing his political campaign. Yorktowners do not support taxpayer funding of political campaigns and they certainly cannot abide using a town-owned vehicle and fuel to conduct a re-election campaign.”
In 2018, the Town of Yorktown purchased a tan Honda CR-V for official use by the town supervisor for $20,900. That vehicle, registered with official government plates numbered AA-1454, was used by the Supervisor to attend his own re-election fundraiser hosted by the Yorktown Democratic Committee on June 20, 2019.
“Although he easily could have walked across the street from town hall to his own campaign fundraiser, Supervisor Gilbert evidently felt entitled to have the hardworking taxpayers of Yorktown foot the gas bill for his campaign activities,” Puff said. “Has he no decency at all? Supervisor Gilbert should immediately turn over his daily mileage logs, fuel usage logs, and the cumulative costs of parts, labor and overhead that we as taxpayers are funding, and reimburse us for any unauthorized use for his political campaign. He must be held accountable.”
Supervisor Gilbert also used the car to transport and collect signatures for the Yorktown Democratic Party slate’s 2019 nominating petitions. In a photograph taken on March 17, the petitions are visibly located in Supervisor Gilbert’s assigned town vehicle. He also drove the vehicle from Yorktown to his AFL-CIO endorsement interview in Elmsford on April 15, clearly outside the boundaries of what can be considered “official business.”
A public servant is guilty of official misconduct under NYS Penal Law §175 when, with intent to obtain a benefit, he commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized. The state comptroller and attorney general’s Joint Task Force on Public Integrity has held officials in other municipalities criminally liable for misusing government vehicles for unauthorized purposes.
Attorney General Letitia James has said, “There is no place in New York for corruption of any kind, period. As Attorney General, I will stand up to anyone who abuses [the] public trust or cheats hardworking New Yorkers and I’ll use the full powers of the office to hold bad actors accountable.”
This unwarranted use of a town-owned vehicle, fueled by taxpayer purchased gasoline, is also a matter for the town’s Board of Ethics. The Supervisor appears to have violated the town’s rules of ethical conduct by using his official position to secure a privilege for himself and misappropriating town property and resources for nongovernmental purposes. The town board passed a resolution expressly prohibiting the use of town resources for political purposes in 2015.
“Residents are being told the town doesn’t have enough money to pave our roads yet Supervisor Gilbert finds it appropriate to use his taxpayer funded car to advance his campaign,” Puff concluded. “There is clearly a disconnect from the Supervisor’s office and needs of the people.”