Former Senate Staffer Files Ethics Charge Against Sen. Ranzenhofer

June 4, 2012 Updated Jun 4, 2012 at 11:29 PM EDT

By John Borsa

June 4, 2012 Updated Jun 4, 2012 at 11:29 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - A former staffer of State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) has filed a complaint with the state's Joint Commission on Public Ethics claiming that he forced her to collect petition signatures for a congressional candidate.

Sources tell Eyewitness News the filing was made last week. The commission was contacted, but our requests for confirmation were not returned.

Michelle McCulloch, 45, of Wyoming County, said it was an "unspoken thing" that she would use personal time to collect the signatures on behalf of a Ranzenhofer ally, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

"If we didn't have our own time to do it, we were allowed to use comp time," McCulloch said, who added that she used one hour of comp time to collect signatures.

McCulloch, who is a Republican committeewoman in Wyoming County, is supporting David Bellavia for the congressional seat.

When Ranzenhofer found out that she was supporting Bellavia and not Collins, McCulloch said she was fired.

Ranzenhofer said McCulloch knows why she was fired, but said it had nothing to do with who she supports for congress.

"I've never had any conversations with her at all about petitions ever," Ranzenhofer said.

Ranzenhofer said he could not discuss his reason for terminating McCulloch, calling it a private personnel matter.