Former Schenectady County Board of Elections commissioner Arthur C. Brassard illegally altered an election petition, state police alleged Monday.
State police charged Brassard with one count of second-degree tampering with public records, a misdemeanor.
He is accused of illegally altering a Conservative petition filed by Republican county Legislator James Buhrmaster by personally marking a page number on the 10th and final page of the petition. He did so after the document had already been recorded in the elections office, illegally altering it after Buhrmaster filed it, according to police.
Brassard, 62, of Rotterdam, is accused of doing so July 9 at the Board of Elections. Brassard resigned and retired from his Republican commissioner post in August after the allegations were made public. He had held the post since 2007.
Brassard received the charging document at the state police barracks in Princetown. He is to appear Thursday morning in Schenectady City Court.
Brassard’s attorney, Kevin Luibrand, called the charge political. He claimed the “county political people” got three investigators from the state police to go through “reams of documents” and the only allegation they came up with is that Brassard added the number “10” to the 10th page of the document. He declined to be more specific on who the “county political people” were, other than to say they know who they are.
“It’s like shooting a howitzer at a fly,” Luibrand said Monday, “when there are other problems in the city much more worthy of the attention of police.”
Joe Landry, who leads the county Democrats, said documents filed can’t be altered. Landry also alleged that Brassard was caught on video altering the document.
He said there are legal amendments the filing individual can make to correct such omissions, but elections officials can’t make those changes themselves.
“These documents were recorded with the Board of Elections and he was on video altering the documents after they’ve been recorded,” Landry said. “That’s totally inappropriate.”
Buhrmaster’s Conservative petitions were later ruled invalid, Landry said. The 10-page filing needed a cover sheet and didn’t have one.
Luibrand said the video Landry referred to is inconclusive. It’s a video of the inside of the Board of Elections. “You can’t see what people are doing,” Luibrand said.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said he forwarded the case to the state police after receiving the allegations from the county attorney’s office.
“Based upon the investigation, the state police concluded it was Bressard who did it and the appropriate charge was a misdemeanor,” Carney said.
Landry, the county Democratic committee chairman, and Amy Hild, the Democratic election commissioner, accused Brassard in July of writing on Buhrmaster’s petition for the Conservative Party line after it was filed and time-stamped.
Hild filed an affidavit with the county Board of Elections on July 15 claiming that Brassard wrote on Buhrmaster’s petition and that Brassard took responsibility for the action.
Buhrmaster, whose Conservative petitions were alleged to have been altered by Brassard, is seeking re-election as a county legislator. He represents District 3, which includes Glenville, Niskayuna and Scotia. Buhrmaster is one of two Republicans on the 15-member county Legislature.