The Schenectady County Republican Committee paid legal and postage expenses associated with efforts to take over the county Conservative Committee and oust its leadership, according to a recent financial filing.
The effort widened an existing rift between the two political parties, with the chairman of the Conservative committee calling for the ouster of the chairman of the Republican committee, Tom Buchanan.
“They shouldn’t support him, considering that their own chairman would do that and take votes away,” said Conservative committee Chairman Randy Pascarella.
He said the Conservative committee will no longer work with Buchanan in elections but would still work with Republican candidates on endorsements.
“That would not be fair to the voters of Schenectady County because Tom Buchanan has no character. It’s not fair to some good candidate who could do good for our county,” he said.
Buchanan did not return a phone call.
The Republican committee’s 10-day post primary financial disclosure lists two key expenses: $1,610 for postage and $2,500 in legal fees to Thomas Spargo. Both expenses are dated Sept. 3. The primary was Sept. 9.
Spargo appeared in state Supreme Court in August to assist Kelly Rhinesmith and her Conservative Reform Caucus in challenging designating petitions filed by the county Conservative committee’s leadership. Spargo, a former Albany County judge, is considered one of the state’s top election law attorneys.
The caucus and its allies also mailed six fliers to 2,700 Conservatives in the county, spent several days delivering literature door to door and made automated phone calls to Conservatives, reminding them about the primary.
Pascarella estimates Rhinesmith, Republicans or both spent some $40,000 on the effort to wrest control away from the current leadership. Rhinesmith’s caucus fell well short of taking a majority of the 250 seats on the committee, which would have allowed it to appoint new leaders. The current leadership managed to hold on to 198 seats.
Pascarella said the Conservative committee hired private investigators to determine who spent the money and where it came from.
“We will investigate this until we get to the bottom of this,” he said.
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