Yonkers council candidate raises ethics questions surrounding majority leader's non-bid contract attempt
Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Tasha Diaz is denying any wrongdoing after residents and political opponents raised concerns that she violated the city's code of ethics when she attempted to award her campaign manager a no-bid contract late last month.
Community activist Hector Santiago, the Working Families Party candidate running against Diaz in the city's 3rd District next month, is among those speaking out.
"The people of Yonkers deserve answers as to whether our tax dollars are being used to the benefit of the community or to reward political supporters and well-connected individuals," wrote Hector Santiago in a statement.
According to the city Board of Contract and Supply agenda from Sept. 26, Diaz put forward a $30,000, six-month contract with Aces Consulting and Communication LLC for "consulting and media-related communication services to provide and design governmental mailers for the city council."
The contract also included a potential six-month extension.
Public business records show Aces Consulting was incorporated only one month before the contract with supposed to begin and the contact information listed matches the person running Diaz's reelection campaign.
That individual is also a part-time member of the city's Human Rights Commission.
The board, which Diaz is a member of, did not ultimately vote on the item and it was pulled at the request of the department.
Diaz's office sent News 12 a written statement after declining an on-camera interview.
"The political season has begun, my desperate opponent and people associated with his candidacy continue with their lies and falsehoods. When it came to my attention that as a part-time employee of the Human Rights Commission, he cannot also hold a city council contract I withdrew the item, so any conflict was avoided. I am proud to stand on my record and Majority Leader, where transparency and stability have been the hallmarks of my time as a City Councilwoman."
However, Santiago, among others, called for an investigation into her attempt to use taxpayer money in what they've called a "quid pro quo."
The Office of the Yonkers Inspector General is unlikely to investigate Diaz.
"My understanding is that the Majority Leader pulled this item off the agenda after realizing there was a conflict. Fleshing out these issues is part of the purpose of the Board of Contract and Supply process and therefore I see no wrongdoing," wrote Yonkers Inspector General Liam McLaughlin in a statement to News 12.