Assemblyman George Amedore was wrong to characterize opponent Angelo Santabarbara as a “dishonest politician” after his challenger successfully defended his independent party petition in state Supreme Court, according to a ruling by Fair Campaign Practices for the Capital Region.
The non-partisan group decided that the incumbent Republican made a misleading attack on his Democratic opponent in a news release posted on his website last month, despite a judge’s ruling in favor of Santabarbara. However, the panel did not agree with Santabarbara’s assertion that Amedore used campaign material that misrepresented him by quoting a dissenting opinion from an earlier court case in the same news release issued after the late-September court decision.
At the crux of the complaint was Amedore’s challenge to Santabarbara’s petition to establish the Change Albany Now line on the ballot in November. He claimed his opponent had committed fraud by knowingly soliciting signatures from outside the 105th Assembly District, which includes parts of Schenectady County and all of Montgomery County.
Santabarbara and his wife collected 2,509 signatures throughout the district in August. Amedore objected to 951 signatures, thereby leaving 1,558 signatures unopposed, which was 58 more than the requisite number for the line.
Attorneys for Amedore claimed that 205 signatures from the 567 Santabarbara personally witnessed were inadmissible. They indicated that he had scribbled in changes by the signatures and solicited some from people living outside of the district. Judge Roger McDonough determined Santabarbara didn’t knowingly try to defraud voters while he was circulating the petition, but acknowledged a number of glaring errors. Still, he ruled the mistakes weren’t enough to suggest that the petition was “permeated with fraud.”
Amedore shrugged off the court ruling by issuing the news release. He said his lawsuit, though unsuccessful, was important “to bring to light the highly irregular, unethical and deceptive tactics used in this petition process.”
“There are enough dishonest politicians in Albany and taxpayers do not need another who is willing to bend the rules to further their careers,” Amedore stated in the Sept. 23 news release.
The race between Amedore, who is vying for his second full term in office, and Santabarbara has grown decidedly negative in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Santabarbara accused Amedore of trying to negatively influence his decision to run for office by contacting his boss at Chazen Companies; Amedore denied the allegations as “a last ditch effort by a desperate politician.”
Santabarbara was pleased by Fair Campaign Practice’s decision, even though it was split. He said he filed the grievance to help straighten the record distorted by Amedore in comments he’s made to the news media since the ruling.
“That’s absolutely wrong to slander your opponent and say he’s breaking the law,” he said Thursday. “Basically, he’s been going around slandering my name all over town and this [complaint] was the only thing I could do.”
Amedore found the decision peculiar, considering some of his opponent’s rhetoric in recent days. He said Santabarbara doesn’t seem interested in following any of the rules outlined by Fair Campaign Practices. “I find it ironic that on upon receiving a [the Fair Campaign Practices] decision that essentially said use of the term lawbreaker was inappropriate, Mr. Santabarbara does just that on talk radio,” Amedore said in a statement released Thursday. “It goes to demonstrate that Mr. Santabarbara believes he is not bound by fair campaign practice rules and will disregard them at will.”
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Categories: Schenectady County