An unbowed Mayor Lovely Warren on Thursday sought to distance herself from her husband and decried his arrest as a politically and racially motivated ploy by the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office to derail her campaign for a third term in office.
Speaking to reporters outside her office on the third floor of City Hall after the arraignment of her husband, Timothy Granison, on felony drug and weapons charges, Warren called the arrest the latest in a string of attempts by her political adversaries to “break her.”
The mayor took no questions, but read a prepared statement that outlined the litany of personal and professional problems that have plagued her in the last year -- from the deaths of her mother and her political mentor, the late Assemblymember David Gantt, to the fallout of the pandemic and from her administration’s handling of the death of Daniel Prude, and her indictment on criminal campaign finance charges.
“Many emotions have gone through my head, staring with confusion, anger, betrayal and hurt,” Warren said. “This past year, I have faced insurmountable odds. I lost my mom, my mentor and father figure, faced COVID and civil unrest. It knocked me down, but not out.”
She urged reporters to ask why the arrest of her husband occurred now, just three weeks before the start of early voting for the June 22 primary election, in which she faces a challenge from City Councilmember Malik Evans.
Granison, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment earlier in the day, was scheduled to return to court on June 21.
“If this is not about politics, why is Tim’s next court date June 21, the day before Primary Day?” Warren said. “Now that’s quite a coincidence.”
Warren said she has been legally separated from Granison for years, but has continued living with him under an agreement between them to co-parent their young daughter. She denied having any involvement in the alleged drug ring in which her husband is accused of being a player, saying, “I have done nothing wrong.”
Their home on Woodman Park was raided by State Police on Wednesday after Granison was arrested during a traffic stop in which law enforcement officials said they found 31 grams of cocaine in his possession and, in the house, two firearms.
“I haven’t spoken to Tim since his arrest, and I’m not standing here defending him,” Warren said. “ ... But we still need to ask ourselves why. Why would they do this now? Because they saw, like you saw, that the momentum was building in our favor in the mayoral race and I was going to be found innocent in my Election Law case because I did nothing wrong.”
The mayor spoke more about her campaign finance case than at any time since her indictment by a grand jury in October. Warren is accused of illegally coordinating between political committees for the purpose of evading donor limits and participating in a scheme to defraud in the first degree, both felonies. That case is pending in state court.
She accused investigators for the state Board of Elections of lying about her alleged crimes, claimed that recorded evidence in her case “mysteriously disappeared,” and asserted that District Attorney Sandra Doorley was “eager and angry” at her for supporting Doorley’s opponent in the last district attorney election in 2019, Shani Curry Mitchell.
“I woke up to the fact that some people will do anything to try and break me,” Warren said.
Earlier in the day, Doorley sought to pre-empt any suggestion that her prosecution of Granison was motivated by politics.
She noted that Granison was one of seven people arrested in an extensive sting operation into a “mid-level” drug ring that began seven months ago, and said he was not the initial target of the investigation but that he emerged as a player about four months in to the probe.
“I’m sure there are going to be people out there who think that this is politically motivated,” Doorley said. “It was not.”
Warren’s speech to reporters, which spanned about five minutes, at times veered toward what sounded like a campaign address. She proclaimed to have repaired the damage inflicted on the highest ranks of the Rochester Police Department by her administration’s handling of the Prude matter, and championed her calls to fund the new Police Accountability Board as well as reparations for Black residents and a universal basic income.
She said God had “guided my path” on those fronts, but also showed her that she lived in a time when racial discrimination was every bit as real as it was in generations past.
“Just when I began to see things a little bit clearer, he also showed me that things are not that different from the 1860s and 1950s,” she said. “So let’s ask ourselves why. I find the timing of yesterday’s events, three weeks before early voting starts, to be highly suspicious.
“There is nothing implicating me in these charges announced today because I’ve done nothing wrong.”