SARATOGA SPRINGS – The authenticity of petition signatures and a 2-year-old campaign mailer from respective candidates in the race for city commissioner of accounts are being called into question.
On Wednesday, Chris Obstarcyk, chairman of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee, said the county Sheriff’s Department is investigating his complaint that Dillon Moran, this year’s Democratic candidate for commissioner of accounts, had mailed a flier with a phony state document to would-be voters two years ago.
At that time, Moran was a candidate for a different race, commissioner of public works.
But Pat Tuz, chairwoman of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee, suggested the claim was a reach, and “payback” for a series of complaints her party made against Samantha Guerra, the GOP candidate in the race for commissioner of accounts.
Tuz also suggested Obstarcyk’s claim was retribution for allegations Tuz made against the entire slate of eight Republican-Conservative candidates relative to what she said was their connection to a phantom group.
Regarding the 2019 fliers, Obstarczyk accused Moran’s campaign of mailing them to residents to purportedly call out a 2017 “violation” of the federal clean water act, when there in fact hadn’t been a violation by the city that year.
The mailer included a purported letter from the state Department of Health that addressed the purported violation.
A message from Moran’s campaign is affixed to the letter:
“It is unacceptable that in 2017 Saratoga Springs was cited with a violation of the Clean Water Act. Over use of a known carcinogen because it is cheap, to treat our water is reckless. Better management of our DPW is needed.”
The word “violation” was stamped on the flyer.
The document did not originate from the New York State Health Department, Obstarcyzk said, adding that the purpose of the flier was to make people fearful about drinking water, and that Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco had failed to protect the public.
“Dillon Moran has a reckless habit of deceiving voters for his own political gain,” Obstarcyzk said in a statement. “The fact that – with clear intent – Dillon Moran created a fake state document and mailed it out to voters in Saratoga Springs in an unethical attempt to undermine his opponent shows that he will do anything, including lie to voters, to win,” Obstarcyzk said.
Obstarcyzk’s statement included a hyperlink to a local blog post by John Kaufmann with a detailed explanation of the alleged fraud.
The post was from November 2019.
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo confirmed that his office was investigating Obstarcyzk’s complaint, but he declined to provide further details, citing the open investigation.
Reached for comment, Tuz said:
“It seems to me that if they were really concerned about it, they would have filed the complaint two years ago – and then they file it with the sheriff’s office. I don’t really get that because you’re supposed to file campaign materials with the Board of Elections.”
Tuz suggested the complaint was a counter to city Democrats filing what she said was a legitimate complaint about the GOP not marking their materials properly, and the alleged forgeries of Guerra’s ballot petitions, which she said is a felony offense if proven.
“Bringing it up and/or filing this on behalf of Dillon, it seems like it’s kind of a diversion from a campaign that’s not going very well,” Tuz said.
During a September press event, Moran showed examples of signatures that appeared to differ from those on file with the Board of Elections, according to media accounts.
Moran had said three city residents sent a letter to the district attorney in June asking her to investigate.
Guerra denied the allegation, while Moran accused Obstarczyk of facilitating the forgeries.
City and state police are investigating the alleged forgeries.
Tuz has asked Guerra to resign from the race, and that the slate of Republican candidates condemn the supposed forgeries.
Earlier this week, Tuz filed an ethics complaint with the state Board of Elections against the entire Republican-Conservative slate of candidates alleging campaign materials distributed on behalf of Republican candidates were from a phantom group called “United Saratoga.”
United Saratoga is an independent party registered with the state Board of Elections.
The materials, Moran said, either failed to include a “paid for by” disclaimer that’s required by state law, or tried to hide the required disclaimer.
Moran said it was an intentional deception to hide an affiliation with Republicans.
Tuz’s previous ethics complaint, on Oct. 4, alleged Republican-Conservative mayoral candidate Heidi Owen West tried to hide her campaign’s connection with the New York State GOP.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.