Monday, June 25, 2007

Shakedown Scheme

If you were a Democrat working at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections in 2006, you had a pretty basic choice: Christmas gifts for your family or cash for Chairman Tom.

That’s what the scenario laid out in the Times Union’s Inside Politics, which reported on a disturbing episode of extortion by Dem Boss Tom Wade. Wade, according to former BOE Dem employee Archie Robinson, demanded that Dem employees at the BOE pay an “assessment” back to the party. Those forced to pay include seven Dem BOE employees.

Dems say the “assessment” was punishment because Wade was not supported for chairman by any members of the BOE, including Dem Commissioner Ed McDonough.

That’s troubling. It’s also illegal. Demanding that anyone, especially employees whose employment you control, pay a percentage of their fee is extortion. We hear Dem attorneys are already scrambling to come up with a defense for Boss Wade. Especially given Wade’s weak defense in Friday’s TU, stating that the contributions from Dem employees are “expected”.

Robinson is no gadfly with an axe to grind. He is the former chairman of the Sand Lake Democratic Party, and is known and respected throughout the county. The fact that he is willing to speak publicly about Wade and his skakedown scheme is big trouble for Wade and other Wade allies.

More on the shakedown scheme tomorrow.