May 1, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Rensselaer County Minority Leaders Grimm and Doran Call for the Resignation of Republican County Officials Charged with Conspiring to Violate Rights of Voters in 2021 Elections
Today, Rensselaer County Democratic Minority Leaders Peter Grimm and Cindy Doran are calling for the immediate resignations of three county employees, who work directly with County Executive Steve McLaughlin, were indicted last Thursday and charged with federal offenses related to wide-spread voter fraud and witness tampering in Rensselaer County.
On Thursday morning, Richard Crist, Director of Rensselaer County Operations, James Gordon, Director of Central Services, and Leslie Wallace, Constituent Relations Assistant for County Executive Steve McLaughlin, were escorted in handcuffs into the U.S. District Court in Albany to appear before Judge Andrew T. Baxter, where they were indicted on federal criminal charges related to voter fraud. After each of them entered a not guilty plea, they were released with a stern warning from the Judge, who instructed them not to influence or intimidate any witnesses, many of whom are county employees supervised by the accused.
This serious, ongoing investigation has already led to the guilty pleas of former Troy City Councilwoman Kim Ashe McPherson and Rensselaer County Republican Elections Commissioner Jason Schofield for engaging in ballot fraud, as part of a broader Republican scheme to manipulate the results of the election in their favor. Ashe-McPherson resigned from her elected city position after pleading guilty and Schofield resigned from his county appointed position also.
County Executive Steve McLaughlin issued a statement on Thursday stating that members of his team would have their day in court and until then, they have the opportunity to continue to work for the county. In response to McLaughlin’s statement, Minority Leader Peter Grimm stated, “Come on now; these operatives are accused of rigging an election, and two out of the five have already pleaded guilty to voter fraud. The fact that these accused were willing to compromise the electoral process for their own personal gain is disgraceful and should not be tolerated.” Grimm went on to request, “I am asking my colleagues in the Legislature to join me in sending a clear message that this conduct will not be tolerated and the residents of Rensselaer County deserve to have confidence in the integrity of our elections.”
Deputy Minority Leader Cindy Doran joined with Grimm requesting that Crist, Wallace and Gordon resign from their positions immediately. “Think about this; their criminal behavior shifted the balance of power from Democrat to Republican in the City of Troy,” stated Doran. Legislator Doran is referring to the very close election in the City of Troy whereby a Democrat lost by single digit vote totals to a Republican, and the ballots that Ashe-McPherson and Schofield were guilty of manipulating total more than the single digit amount which cost the Democrat the race and upset the balance of power. “They essentially changed the outcome of an election and the will of the people. We condemn this behavior and support immediate measures to prevent future occurrences of electoral fraud,” stated Doran. “The County Executive’s decision to permit three indicted county employees, accused of ballot fraud, to remain in the workplace is like keeping a pack of wolves in a henhouse and expecting them to suddenly become vegetarian,” concluded Doran.
Grimm and Doran went on to say, “Many residents are skeptical and find it difficult to believe that County Executive Steve McLaughlin was unaware of the criminal activity being conducted by three top ranking officials working in his office and on his campaign. As a result, we have received many calls from residents and community groups insisting that these three officials resign immediately. In addition, there are serious concerns to the County Executive’s involvement and perceived negligence.”