Democrat Patrick Burke allegedly fired staffers over white supremacy

A state lawmaker is under fire from three ex-employees who claim they were jailed for suggesting he take a stronger stance against white supremacy in response to last week’s mass shooting in Buffalo.

Rep. Patrick Burke’s former staffers told the Post Saturday the Buffalo Democrat originally planned to speak out against white supremacy in the assembly — even asking them to put together a presentation.

However, the former employees said his attitude suddenly changed a day later, and they were fired on Tuesday after a heated exchange voicing their concerns.

“We were trying to say, ‘Hey, man, you know, we live in this part of Buffalo that people see as racist, and we know here in Erie County we have a problem with extremism and racism, and we do feel that … as an office, we need to call that out,’” recalled Matthew Dearing, Burke’s director of community relations.

“He said, ‘No’ – stick to the program!’ ”

buffalo shooting
Rep. Pat Burke’s former aide claims he was planning to give a speech denouncing white supremacy after the Buffalo mass shooting, but then changed his mind.

Dearing also said Burke made it clear that he did not want to risk losing his seat in the Assembly by opposing white supremacy.

“He made it very clear to us that we would not do anything significant on this matter,” Dearing recalled. “He told us, and I quote, ‘I’m not going to give up my seat on this issue.'”

Former Legislative Director Nicole Golias recalled that Burke “derided” a push by Rep. Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) to form a commission to combat white supremacy.

“He made fun of another MP who was proposing a commission to eradicate white supremacy and said, ‘Oh, that’s going to be pointless or spongy,'” Golias said.

The third person fired was Brendan Keany, an ex-communications director.

Payton Gendron
Employees claim Burke does not want to lose his seat over the matter.

Burke, 37, did not return a message on Saturday.

But he previously told the Buffalo News his former subordinates were released for “gross disobedience” after a heated exchange at his county office, where they accused him of being a “political coward.”

“One of the workers called my family ‘lily-white,’ even though he knew I came from a mixed-race family,” Burke insisted. “I am married to a Puerto Rican woman and we have three children of mixed race.”

Burke has been a member of the State Assembly since 2019 and was previously the Erie County Legislature. Democrat Patrick Burke allegedly fired staffers over white supremacy


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