A local woman who serves on the town’s zoning board was escorted off the steps of the U.S. Capitol last week as she joined pro-Trump demonstrations that later escalated into some storming the seat of the legislative branch, an official said.
Sharon Pineo was allegedly captured in photographs at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as a pair of police officers appeared to detain her outside the Capitol building, drawing internet sleuths to identify her as a Saratoga County Republican.
Ted Willette, chair of the Malta Town Republican Party, on Sunday said Pineo contacted him Friday and informed him that she had been escorted by police from the Capitol steps, but that she never breached the interior of the building and did not face any pending criminal charges.
“I am aware that she was escorted from the Capitol area. I believe that she was not part of [any group] that was going inside [of] the building… she was on the steps,” he said. “Until there are charges that are pending, I fully believe that it’s innocent until proven guilty.”
Willette, speaking in his role as the town’s party chair, said he needed more details about whether Pineo faced any legal charges before commenting on whether it was appropriate for her to continue her role in the local party and on the town zoning board. He also criticized people on social media reacting to alleged photos of Pineo without more details of her involvement.
“I do not believe in mob lynching or disparaging someone’s character until we have all the facts,” Willette said.
Trump supporters from around the Capital Region, including former congressional candidate Liz Joy, joined other Trump supporters in Washington on Wednesday to protest the formal certification by Congress of Joe Biden as president-elect.
Pineo is identified on the Malta Town website as a member of the town’s zoning board of appeals.
A message left at a number listed for Pineo was not returned Sunday.
On Sunday, Tim Dunn, a Republican member of the Malta Town Board, on Facebook wrote that the “intentions of the group that stormed the Capitol are reprehensible and not consistent with the values of our community” and called for a resignation from the zoning board.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, faced a growing backlash against her support of objections to Biden’s election certification. While some Republicans walked back plans to object to Biden’s electors in the wake of riots at the Capitol, Stefanik, along with a majority House Republicans, continued with the objections.
An online petition calling for Stefanik’s resignation had garnered over 13,000 virtual supporters as of Sunday afternoon, and scores of Harvard students and alumni signed a petition calling for Stefanik’s removal from an advisory board at the college’s Institute of Politics. Stefanik graduated from Harvard College in 2006.
“Inventing false claims of voter fraud and trying to use the ensuing controversy to challenge a Constitutionally proper proceeding to ratify the decision of the Electoral College is by all fair measures utterly inconsistent with (Stefanik’s oath of office),” according to the Harvard petition.
The Harvard signatories called on the college’s politics institute to sever all ties with Stefanik, and in an editorial The Crimson, the Harvard student newspaper, singled out Stefanik and other Harvard graduates who objected to Biden’s electors in Congress, accusing the lawmakers of bolstering baseless claims of election fraud — and using their Harvard association to do so.
“Though there is no single definition of what a Harvard student ‘should’ be, (Texas Senator Ted) Cruz, Stefanik, and (Florida Rep. Brian) Mast provided a clear portrait of the prestige Harvard can confer being used as it absolutely should not be: in the relentless pursuit of political influence at a glaring cost to morality,” the Crimson wrote in an editorial over the weekend. “The authority Harvard confers should not be used to peddle unfounded conspiracies to undermine faith in our elections.”