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Party chairs keep up consulting

Jul 09, 2019 12:46 am
Chris Bragg reports in the Albany Times Union that new state Republican Party chairperson Nick Langworthy is giving up his job as a private political consultant to take on the state leadership role. But that is the exception, not the rule in state politics, where many political party leaders at the county level double-dip as political consultants. "In recent years, at least one Democratic county chair, four Republicans and one Conservative Party chair benefited" from running county politics, and charging politicians for other services. "If a political chair determines endorsements of candidates and then goes to work for the candidate, it would raise a conflict of interest — or, definitely, the appearance of conflict of interest," said Alex Camarda, a senior policy advisor at the government reform group Reinvent Albany. Locally, there are two examples of the practice. Rensselaer Democratic Party chair, Michael Monescalchi, also leads a firm called Blue State Strategies, designing campaign mailers. The firm has received more than $130,000 since 2011, much of that from candidates endorsed by Rensselaer County Democrats. Republican Chris Tague represents Greene and Schoharie counties in the state Assembly, and also Otsego County. Tague's campaign spent more than $18,000 in 2018 with the Casale Group, run by Otsego County chair Vincent Casale. Casale did not respond to a request for comment. On the state level, there is a similar issue, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week appointing Jay Jacobs, the state Democratic Party chairperson, to a new commission set to create rules for publicly financed elections in New York. "It's like the fox in charge of the henhouse," Langworthy said. "You have a party leader ... running a governmental entity. Only in Andrew Cuomo's world could this pass the smell test." Or at the county level throughout New York. Read more about this story in the Albany Times Union.