The Mayor of Rochester, New York gained national attention in September when she vowed to defund her own police department after an officer-involved death that sparked riots and looting in the city. Now Mayor Lovely Warren is back in the national news having been charged and arraigned on two counts of campaign finance violation.
In March of this year, a man named Daniel Prude died in police custody in Rochester after having a spit-hood placed over his head to prevent him from expectorating on police officers. Footage of Prude's detainment with the spit-hood was leaked to the public in September, causing already agitated protesters and rioters to take to the streets, leaving behind them destruction and chaos.
In response to the unrest in her city, Warren blamed the Rochester Police Department for being systemically racist and ushered the ultra-liberal city council into an 8-1 vote to defund the department. The lone hold out only voted against the measure because it didn't go far enough, a decision for which she was slammed by Mayor Warren.
Shortly after the release of the video of Prude, Rochester police became the target of national ridicule and condemnation from Black Lives Matter protesters, Democrats from across the nation, and their very own mayor. They exchanged several very public, very heated exchanges and, eventually, the majority of the top brass of the RPD announced they were retiring. They simply couldn't lead the police force in New York's largest city without support from the people and from their elected leaders, they said.
Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary laid out in simple terms what that week was like for him.
“The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity,” Singletary said in a statement. “The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for. The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”
Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said the problems in the city stemmed directly from Mayor Warren's office.
"What is clear is that the problems of leadership go directly to the Mayor’s office," he said on Tuesday. "Our priority now is on the dedicated men and woman, who despite unprecedented challenges, continue to do a very difficult job. Our members remain focused and committed to serving the citizens of this city, despite the lack of support and leadership that we are witnessing coming from our elected officials in City Hall."
And now, it seems, there truly were some deep-rooted problems in Warren's office.
An indictment from Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley handed down late last week details malfeasance by the mayor in relation to her 2017 bid for reelection. The charges detail the then-candidate accepting donations above the $8,500 via her official campaign account and a political action committee. She is charged with one count each of scheming to defraud and violation of election-law for topping campaign contribution limits. Both are felony charges.
Warren's office has defended the actions detailed within the charges, saying that the financial violation was due to a bookkeeping error. However, Dooley maintains that her findings will lead to a criminal conviction. Warren was arraigned on Monday but released with the instruction to avoid any other "trouble."
She is legally allowed to continue her duty as mayor while she fights the charges but if convicted, she would be forced to step down.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faced similar accusations last year but no charges were ever brought against him.
NY State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy summed up the charges against Warren as typical of Democrat leaders.
"Another corrupt Democrat who thinks the campaign finance laws don’t apply to them," he said. "She’s been a terrible mayor and the whole country has seen that on full display."