MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- Campaign finance disclosure documents show two people connected with a criminal investigation of Montgomery County sheriff candidate James Glorioso Jr. contributed money to his opponent's campaign.
Jeff Smith, the Republican candidate for Montgomery County Sheriff, received a $400 contribution on July 18, 2017, from New York State Trooper Walter J. Hadsell of Cobleskill, according to a report filed with the New York state Board of Elections. The donation was for participation in a golf tournament fundraiser for Smith.
Hadsell is the senior investigator involved in an investigation of Glorioso and his campaign, a probe that has resulted in a felony charge of filing a false instrument against Glorioso. The investigation has also resulted in a felony charge of filing a false instrument against notary Kirsten Lemire, of Amsterdam, who was working for Glorioso as he was working to collect petitions for the election.
Calls to the New York State Police seeking comment on the donation Tuesday were not returned by press time.
The complaint that prompted the state police to investigate Glorioso's campaign came from the Montgomery County Board of Elections, after a hearing at which that body rejected Glorioso's ballot petition to be a write-in candidate for the Conservative Party primary. The county Board of Elections approved nine of the 25 objections made against Glorioso's 42 signatures, dropping him below the 34 needed to be placed on the ballot.
The objections were made by Conservative Party member Cheryl Reese, who is also the clerk of the Montgomery County Legislature and supervisor for the town of Minden. Reese's objections were supported by information gathered by Benedict Close Jr., a private investigator and a resident of Northville, who interviewed some of the people who had signed Glorioso's ballot petition.
Close had been hired by Smith's campaign. The charges against Glorioso and Lemire stem from allegations that Lemire did not witness all of the signatures she notarized, and that one of the signers of Glorioso's petition, Hector Perez, signed the petition on behalf of his autistic son, Frankie Perez.
Hadsell explained his involvement in the investigation to The Daily Gazette on Aug. 27.
"I'll confirm that there were two signatures on the petition that looked extremely alike, which is why the (private investigator) was hired, and that PI determined that, yes, the father signed for his son," Hadsell said. "I can tell you that I went there and interviewed that father, and he confirmed the same thing – he did sign for his son to indicate that, yeah, he would vote for Mr. Glorioso, but his (son's) signature would be, I guess, one that would be too large and take up too much space because of some type of whatever the issue may be with his son."
Campaign finance disclosure forms also show one of Montgomery County's election commissioners, Republican Terrance Smith, of Amsterdam, contributed $100 to Smith's campaign on Sept. 16.
Terrance Smith said the contribution was likely made by his wife, Rosemary Smith, chairwoman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, without his knowledge. When asked whether he participated in the Board of Elections decision to file a criminal complaint against Glorioso, Terrance Smith replied, "No comment."
Jeff Smith said he believes the process that resulted in charges being filed against Glorioso and Lemire was fair.
"I've been a 30-year police officer in this county, so I know a lot of people, and a lot of people have donated to my campaign," Smith said. "Last year when I had a golf tournament fundraiser, nobody knew my opponent was going to commit a felony. It was a bipartisan complaint by the Democratic and Republican commissioners on the Board of Elections.
"The state police, who are a non-political entity conducted the investigation, and I have overwhelming confidence in the job that they do. I've seen the facts. This is black and white material. There's no evidence involved except depositions, so the fact that a couple of troopers were at my golf tournament last year ... it's a non issue."
James Long, the Albany-based attorney representing Glorioso, disagreed.
"Investigator Hadsell has his First Amendment rights, under the Citizens United [Supreme Court ruling], and he can certainly exercise those rights, but what I find interesting here is when somebody makes a common mistake that I've seen people make many, many times over my 40 years of doing election law, they want to lock him up," Long said. "It's just absurd. Everybody makes mistakes, but there's a requirement in all criminal cases that there be a criminal intent. Here, it was just a misunderstanding between people and notaries. It should not rise to the level of a criminal case.
"I'm glad I don't live in Montgomery County where you can have your political opponents arrested. If this case proceeds to trial, they will have more questions to answer than James Glorioso."
Smith leads in fundraising, spending
According to campaign finance disclosure forms, Jeff Smith has raised more than Glorioso by a factor of more than 10 to 1.
Jeff Smith has raised $32,325, with the largest contribution to his campaign coming from himself -- $4,254. Smith's election committee filed disclosure reports for January and July. His largest individual campaign contributor was Donald H. Smith, at $750.
Smith's campaign also received $6,575 in corporate contributions, the largest of which was $1,000 from Ron Allen Trucking of Canajoharie. Other corporate contributors included $500 from Yioyio A. D. Accangelis of Fort Plain; $500 from Stony Brook Inc., of Amsterdam; $500 from Pittsfield Communications Systems, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; $400 from Access Transportation, of Fort Plain; and $400 from the Triad Group LLC, of Troy.
Smith's campaign also received 152 unnamed contributions of less than $99 between February and July, totaling approximately $7,763.99, with the largest donation being $99.99 and the smallest being $15.
New York state law does not require those who contribute less than $100 to a political campaign to disclose their identities.
Smith's campaign also received $4,873 from his Sept. 19, 2017, fundraiser golf tournament. In his January disclosure form, he listed a total of $5,338 in expenses associated with the golf tournament -- $2,608 for food and $2,730 for use of Canajoharie Golf & Country Club. Some other large expenses included: $1,550 for T-shirts from Victory Promotions, of Watertown; $1,500 to Jeff Waner, of Fort Plain, for T-shirts; $600 for a fence sign at Amsterdam Mohawks Baseball games; $451.98 for rack cards from Miller Printing of Amsterdam; $442 to the Lettering Company, of Fort Plain for banners and signs, and $222 to Adam Schwabrow, of Johnstown, for website hosting fees.
Smith has spent a total of $18,166, according to the latest report.
Smith on Aug. 27 told The Daily Gazette his campaign hired a private investigator to look into alleged discrepancies in Glorioso's ballot petition. Neither Smith's January nor July financial disclosure reports list an expense for a private investigator. Smith said his next finance disclosure form to the state will include a $100 expense the private investigator.
In Glorioso's July disclosure form, he indicates having raised $2,430 -- $1,430 in private contributions -- and having spent $2,809.98. He lists $930 coming from private contributions, the largest being $400 from himself. His largest individual contribution was $200 from Donna Wagner, of Castle Rock, Colorado. He also received $500 from Jimco Holdings LLC, of Amsterdam.
Glorioso's campaign has also received $1,000 in loans from his wife, Courtney Glorioso.
Some of Glorioso's largest expenses have included: $950 to Bill Nelson, of Amsterdam, for sponsorship of a race car; $631.79 for pamphlets and a banner from Vistra Print, of Lexington, Massachusetts; $425 for Cassella Co., of Amsterdam, for signs and T-shirts, and $400 for a sign at Amsterdam Mohawk Baseball games.