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Another Republican official under investigation in Rensselaer County election probe

Oct 16, 2023 12:59 pm

Brendan J. Lyons reports in the Times Union that Rensselaer County’s Republican deputy elections commissioner Corine Sheldon is leaving her position, and is being investigated by a grand jury about her actions in certifying votes cast in a 2021 Working Families Party primary, according to two of the newspaper's sources. Sheldon recently resigned as of Oct. 31. The attorney general’s office began an investigation in 2021, serving a grand jury subpoena on Rensselaer County for many absentee ballot documents handled by county Operations Director Richard W. Crist and Jim Gordon, the county’s director of purchasing. So far three Rensselaer County officials have been indicted in the investigation. Crist; Gordon, director of the county’s Bureau of Central Services; and Leslie A. Wallace, a constituent relations assistant for county Executive Steve McLaughlin, are accused of filling out the ballots that were submitted in the names of others, or directing that it be done. And they allegedly pressured county employees to sign absentee ballot applications. Sheldon is being investigated, according to the newspaper sources, about whether she certified election results in the Working Families Party primary for county executive two years ago that she knew had erroneously undercounted the number of votes secured by incumbent County Executive Steve McLaughlin’s Democratic challenger, Gwen Wright. Sara J. McDermott, who was listed in 2021 county payroll records as an “assistant for constituent relations” in McLaughlin’s office, won the Working Families party primary election. The story says that, "McDermott was among the employees who were allegedly pressured to run ghost campaigns in order to neutralize the impact of Working Families Party votes." McLaughlin has not been part of the state and federal voter fraud investigations that have so far have had two public officials pleading guilty and three others indicted. Read more about this story in the Times Union.