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Rensselaer County served with federal grand jury subpeona

Feb 11, 2022 1:00 am

Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union Rensselaer County was served with a federal grand jury subpoena on Feb. 8, seeking materials from the Rensselaer County Board of Elections, as the FBI investigation into the handling of absentee ballots in 2021 and 2020 continues to expand. Federal authorities are looking to obtain absentee ballot documents and communications of various Rensselaer County officials. The subpoenas were served five days after FBI agents seized the mobile phones of county Operations Director Richard W. Crist and Jim Gordon, the county's director of purchasing and a political ally of county Executive Steve McLaughlin. The phones were seized on the morning of February 3, and took place the same day McLaughlin appeared in Rensselaer County Court for a pre-trial conference in an unrelated criminal case involving the alleged theft and misuse of campaign funds. McLaughlin has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges. The State Police also have been conducting a separate investigation of alleged ballot fraud in the city of Rensselaer's mayoral race last November. Multiple county officials, most of them tied to the Republican Party, have retained legal counsel as FBI agents have been conducting interviews during the past several months. Gordon's role in gathering absentee ballots at a Lansingburgh apartment complex is a focus of the FBI's investigation. Crist's involvement with absentee ballots in the Rensselaer mayoral race has also been examined by the State Police. The county GOP leadership said it was unaware of any fraudulent activity by the party during the 2021 election, and that party members had simply taken advantage of a directive from the state Board of Elections that allowed individuals to use absentee ballots if they did not want to vote in person due to the pandemic. Crist, a longtime Republican operative and McLaughlin confidant. who serves as his spokesperson, has declined to respond to questions for more than a month. Gordon also previously declined to comment. Read more in the Times Union.