Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee seeks investigation into website

Man at podium

FILE - Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim

SARATOGA SPRINGS  The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee is alleging that a website attacking Mayor Ron Kim has violated state election laws and is seeking an investigation by the state Board of Elections.

The committee filed a complaint Thursday with the state board’s Division of Election Law Enforcement in which it accuses Moving Saratoga Forward of being the creators behind

The anonymous operator of Moving Saratoga Forward, however, on Thursday denied any connection to the website.

The RonKimTruth site urges viewers to sign a petition calling for Kim’s resignation from office. Kim is in his first term as mayor and he’s currently seeking re-election this year, first facing a challenge in this month’s Democratic primary.

Moving Saratoga Forward’s website identifies itself as a “news and politics blog focused on local news events in Saratoga County.” Contacted by the Gazette Thursday, the operator once again declined to share his or her identity, stating that it is “operated anonymously to honor the long tradition that anonymous and pseudonymous speech has played in advancing the human condition.”

The Democratic Committee alleges that Moving Saratoga Forward, which the committee calls a “social-media-based partisan advocacy group,” was the first to “promote” the website and then a petition hosted by 

“The website and the same petition were subsequently and quickly promoted by the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee, suggesting some partisan coordination,” states the complaint signed by Otis Maxwell, the acting chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee. 

The committee said Moving Saratoga Forward’s promotion of the website violates Chapter 17 of state Election Laws, which requires entities that are provided compensation for political communication to disclose what political committee paid them. 

“The website does not contain the ‘paid for by’ disclosure as required by New York State Election Law,” the complaint states. “This lack of required disclosure on the website is intentional as the creators hope to anonymously and surreptitiously impact the outcome of the June 27 primary for Saratoga Springs mayor in order to avoid accountability for the attacks.”

Moving Saratoga Forward said it has not published nor contributed to the website and that the accusations come from incorrectly interpreting state Election Laws.


The site argues that disclosure is only required when the communication is paid advertising. 

“The existence of a website is not by any standard paid advertisement and thus not in violation of State Election Law disclosure requirements and furthermore protected speech by the First Amendment,” stated Moving Saratoga Forward in a Facebook post.

“We do not know who runs that website,” Moving Saratoga Forward said in an email to the Gazette. “The link was sent to us by a reader. We liked the content and shared it.”

The Democratic Committee also contends that Moving Saratoga Forward “routinely attacks Democratic candidates and elected officials” even though it’s not a committee filed with the state to provide political communication.

Moving Saratoga Forward said in the email response it has not been in communication with the Saratoga County Republican Committee about candidates and support. 

Moving Saratoga Forward also argues that anonymous communication has been a hallmark of political and social discourse and that the Supreme Court has upheld the right to anonymous free speech, citing the 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission.

“The tradition of anonymous speech is older than the United States,” Moving Saratoga Forward states in its Facebook post. “Founders Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym ‘Publius’ and ‘the Federal Farmer’ spoke up in rebuttal. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized rights to speak anonymously derived from the First Amendment.”

Moving Saratoga Forward said they’re not surprised by the complaint. 

“Sadly, it doesn’t surprise us that Ron Kim, the worst Mayor in the History of Saratoga Springs, is ordering his flunkeys to use state force to shut down the speech of people who disagree with him,” Moving Saratoga Forward said. 

Saratoga Springs Republican Chairman Mike Brandi said Maxwell’s “tin-foil hat allegations are simply false.”
“It’s a shame that he is going to be wasting the valuable time of the State Board of Elections with this,” he said.” The fact of the matter is that I do not know who is behind either website and have never ‘coordinated’ with either.”

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ByBriere. 



Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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