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Legally Messing with Politics: Seneca Candidate for West Seneca highway superintendent sues rival

Earlier today, Buffalo News reported that Thomas C. Reese II, a candidate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for West Seneca highway superintendent, is suing his opponent Timothy T. Healy, alleging he attempted to pressure him to drop out of the race by disseminating confidential police records. Three other individuals are also being implicated and sued in this case, including a West Seneca police detective that Reese accused of obtaining the police records and providing them to Healy. Reese filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court this week.

The detective was demoted to patrol officer after an investigation into the record-sharing by West Seneca police, according to Reese and his attorney. The records included information about 11 police calls involving Reese in three local jurisdictions, Reese said. One call resulted in a harassment charge against Reese in Orchard Park, which was dismissed in court.

Regardless of which party you find yourself siding with here, there is a conversation to be had about digging up one's past and weaponizing past potential illegalities in order to undermine a political opponent's campaign. By doxxing an opponent (leaking sealed or otherwise non-public information about a public figure with the intent of interfering with their future political, social or financial prospects), one can improve their own public image comparatively. Often, to sell the idea of condemnation, an opponent may even openly condemn past actions in order to represent themselves as being of a higher moral ground.

On the other side of the coin, having been the target of such a scandal and then overcoming can not only be career-saving for the target of the scandal, but it can also be career-ruining for the instigator of the allegations.

In this specific case, Healy can be likened to be the person accused of doxxing Reese for political leverage, under the accomplice of the three other parties listed in the lawsuit. Having this information about Reese out there may potentially sway more moderate voters Healy's way, as they may very well see him as being "the lesser of two evils." Pending the results of the 'suit, if Healy does not lose, he will be in comparatively better viewed than Reese (although his public image itself likely won't change beyond being "the wrongly accused." However, if the lawsuit does not go Healy's way, he may be viewed as a crook who has such a feeble political standing that he needs to sabotage his opponent to have a successful campaign.

For Reese on the other hand, this seems to be a make-or-break case for him. If he wins the lawsuit, he will look like a sympathetic figure to the public. If not, he will face scrutiny, among potential legal repercussions for the accusations.

That's where we are with this story right now, we'll keep you posted.


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