A subcommittee made up of three senior-level Independence Party members and chaired by Dr. Richard Hamil will be looking into the allegations that Colonie Independence Party Chairman Ken Champagne offered his party’s support in exchange for a town position, according to Paul Caputo, Albany County Independence Party Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the state Independence Party.
The Independence Party has formed a review committee to investigate the serious allegations that were first reported by The Spotlight, Caputo said Wednesday, Sept. 16.
In an article first published on Friday, Sept. 11 on www.spotlightnews.com, Champagne was quoted as saying, `What I told [Mike] Hoblock was that I may be getting considered for a position with the town, and if that happens, of course it may affect my decision,` and `If I was given a job before the endorsement came out, I don’t think anyone would believe me if I said I wasn’t influenced by that.`
While Caputo did not have a definite timeline of when the review committee would begin and end their investigation, now that the committee has been formed, Caputo said the investigation would most likely begin shortly.
At this time, the party will not be calling on the removal of Champagne from his position until the committee recommends to do so.
`We believe Mr. Champagne deserves his right of due process. Any removal from the committee and town chairmanship at this time may taint the findings of this committee,` Caputo said.
In addition to the committee’s investigation, Hoblock called on District Attorney David Soares to investigate the allegations during a press conference he held at Colonie Republican headquarters on Wolf Road on Sunday, Sept. 13. On Wednesday, Hoblock said he sent a letter to Soares to follow up on his request on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
`We’re calling for an investigation because there may have been a criminal offense. That’s not for me to decide, obviously, that’s up to a grand jury to decide,` Hoblock said.
The committee will decide what it would like to take into account during the investigation. Caputo said the committee would most likely be considering the allegations as presented in The Spotlight story (see Colonie Indy Chair Waffles on Endorsement, Denies Brokering for Town Job) as well as an e-mail that was sent to several Independence Party committee members and Colonie Republican committee members, calling on the Independence Party to re-consider allowing a primary for the supervisor race and issuing Hoblock a Wilson Pakula, allowing the party to endorse a candidate outside its membership.
On Wednesday, Champagne said, at this point, he is not planning on removing himself from his chairmanship.
`I am just sitting back and waiting for the subcommittee,` he said.
`The facts are out there, there was no wrongdoing.`
For more on this story, check back at www.spotlightnews.com, or read the Wednesday, Sept. 23 print edition of the Colonie Spotlight.