What’s in her wallet?

County Executive Debbie Preston’s use of a Town of Conklin credit card for personal purposes raises an interesting question beyond that of her ethics and morals. And that is the question of her creditworthiness. If she needed a credit card to shop for clothing, why did she not open one in her own name? In 2011, the year she opened the credit card in her and the Town’s name, her salary as Town Supervisor was $51,606, well above the median family income in the Town of $43,000. That would seem adequate for her to qualify for a credit card. When she became County Executive, her salary increased to more than $90,000. And, of course, this is over and above her earnings from selling Avon products out of her office. All in all, not too bad for a high school dropout.  So, why did she need to rely on the credit of the Town to get a credit card?

Anyone who has ever had a security clearance knows that bad credit is grounds for being denied access to sensitive information. The reason is obvious: someone with financial problems is subject to compromise. In fact, the primary reason people have given state secrets to other countries is for financial gain. In private industry, those with fiduciary responsibility routinely have their credit checked to assess their likelihood of engaging in embezzlement or other financial crimes.

There is much being made recently about the refusal by one of the presidential candidates to release his tax returns. Should not such requirements extend to local officials as well? Credit card companies will give a card to pretty much anyone with a pulse. If Ms. Preston, with an above average income, cannot qualify for a credit card, should we really be entrusting her with our hard-earned tax dollars? If she is not creditworthy enough to get a line of credit on her own, do we want her managing more than $300M of our money?

I call on Ms. Preston, and on her opponent Jason Garner, to immediately make public their tax returns and their credit scores. We have a right to know whether they can be entrusted with our finances.

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