They can't vote and they can't even discuss one of the biggest issues ever to come before the Broome County Legislature.

That's the situation four of 19 Broome legislators find themselves in as the county considers a potential $15.9 million land deal with a natural gas company.

Suzanne Gorman Messina, D-6th District; Marchie Diffendorf, R-7th District; Stephen Herz, D-9th District; and Ronald Keibel, R-11th District, will have to recuse themselves "on all matters and resolutions pertaining to the leasing of county-owned property for oil and natural gas exploration," Chairman Daniel Reynolds said in the memo.

In May 2009, County Attorney Joseph Sluzar recommended that legislators with a stake in the natural gas rush be barred from shaping county policy regarding the issue. Sluzar said his recommendation was "very conservative advice." Politics, possible conflicts, and large sums of money are "classic ingredients" in prosecutions against public officials, he said at that time.

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