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Foss: Gloversville's King can't survive second scandal

Foss: Gloversville's King can't survive second scandal

One arrest for official misconduct won't destroy your political career, but two arrests will
Foss: Gloversville's King can't survive second scandal
The sign Wednesday on the Gloversville mayor's office door


That was the reaction of many of us in the local media when we learned that Dayton King, the mayor of Gloversville, had been charged with falsifying business records, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and petit larceny. 

King's crime? 

Using the City Hall postage meter for his real estate business. 

Had this been King's only transgression as mayor, perhaps he wouldn't have been forced to resign as part of his plea bargain, announced Wednesday morning

But it wasn't.    

Last September, King pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree harassment, a violation.

The charge stemmed from a mayoral debate in which King released confidential information from the personnel file of his opponent, city firefighter William Rowback Jr. 

King managed to survive this scandal and win re-election, but a second scandal, in less than a year, was simply too much to weather. 

If there's a lesson here, it's that one arrest for official misconduct won't destroy your political career, but two arrests will. 

One good thing about King's plea bargain is that it ensures there won't be a third arrest for official misconduct anytime soon -- that I won't be shouting "Again!?!" in disbelief when news of King's misbehavior reaches me. 

Too often, politicians attempt to put scandal behind them by issuing mealy-mouthed apologies and pretending nothing happened. 

King himself did this, during the Rowback affair, a requirement of his plea bargain in that case. "If I had a chance to hit rewind, and Bill Rowback told me to speak about what was in his personnel file, I should have refused," he said. "For any embarrassment that bringing this to light has caused for you and your family, I apologize." 

King said he was sorry on Wednesday, too -- "I apologize to everyone who I have let down and I ask for your forgiveness" -- but it wasn't enough to save his job. 

And rightly so. 

Still, what amazes me most about this whole sorry affair is how little it took to trigger King's downfall. 

According to state police, King stole $473.07 worth of postage between Jan. 5 and Oct. 15, 2018.

That's a shockingly small amount to destroy your political career over, and I suspect that, given the chance to hit rewind, King would go back in time and pay for his postage like a normal person. 

What might be most unfortunate about King's unraveling is that as mayor, he showed real promise.

"When he got in there, he was a breath of fresh air," an acquaintance of mine reflected when we discussed King's plea deal.

My acquaintance isn't wrong -- King was a breath of fresh air. 

But I doubt anyone will ever describe him that way again. 

And for that, Dayton King has only himself to blame.  

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's. 

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