Bethlehem supervisor hopeful Jared King has been tossed from the county voter rolls, simultaneously ejecting him from his seat on the Albany County Republican Committee and impacting his chances to appear in the fall elections.
The decision stems from evidence King keeps his primary residence in Coxsackie, not Delmar, an assertion King denies.
King was removed from the county’s voter rolls at a hearing on Monday, June 24, before Albany County Board of Elections commissioners. A challenge to his voter registration was leveled by Bryon McKim, a member of the Albany County Republican Committee and legal counsel to the same. King said he plans to fight the ruling and continue his campaign to force a September Republican primary.
A notice of the hearing was sent by certified mail to King’s Delmar address, but he did not appear. During an interview with The Spotlight, King produced a certified mail notice that carried the date of June 15, informing him the certified letter would be available for pick up at the post office June 17.
King did not collect the notice until after the hearing, though, saying he was not aware of its contents. King argued the notice was illegal because it was sent by certified letter, not by first class mail, as the letter of the state election law requires.
“If it was sent first class I would have had it and I would have dealt with it,” King said.
Among documents considered at the hearing were King’s Department of Motor Vehicles records, which list his place of residence in Coxsackie on South River Road. His license is also currently suspended since March of 2012 for failure to answer a summons in the Town of Bethlehem, a matter he said he was unaware of.
A STAR tax exemption application in King’s name was also submitted. The 2010 application is for the Coxsackie address. The STAR program is only applicable to one’s primary residence, a requirement that is clearly stated on the application.
King was registered since 2007 with the Albany County Board of Elections at 22 Paxwood Road in Delmar, an address that he has used to vote regularly in general elections and Republican primaries since then. He made a 2007 run for Albany County Legislature from that address. The town’s assessment rolls list the property owner as Patricia King, who is Jared King’s sister.
After reviewing the challenge, both Republican Election Commissioner Rachel Bledi and Democratic Election Commissioner Matthew Clyne agreed to remove King from the voter rolls.
“We’re pretty lenient in terms of proving residency, but at the same time there has to be some kind of physical attachment,” said Bledi, who is also the Albany County Republican Committee Chairwoman.
King, however, said he lives at 22 Paxwood Road and has for years. He said he moved there to assist his ailing mother and changed his address with the DMV. He soon thereafter changed it over to the Coxsackie address upon getting a traffic ticket from Bethlehem police.
“I am not here in my life just to pay tickets to the Town of Bethlehem for kicks,” King said.
He argued his sister maintains ownership of the Delmar property, and he keeps the Coxsackie property mainly for technical and tax purposes but asserted he lays his head in Delmar and has been part of the Bethlehem community since 2007.
King also argued the Board of Elections needed to send him notice of its intent to purge him from the voter rolls and give him 14 days to respond.
Practically speaking, the board’s finding means King is off of the county Republican Committee. Coxsackie is not only in Greene County, but also in the neighboring 102nd Assembly District.
Bledi said the committee first became aware of King’s residency issue during the interview process for this year’s local election endorsements. King had sought the party’s nod for Bethlehem supervisor, and he handed out a copy of a resume listing his Coxsackie address as part of the interview process. The resume lists King as the president of New World Financial Group, which at least one online business directory listed as being located at his home address in Coxsakie using the phone number listed on King’s resume.
The party ended up endorsing then town committee Chairman Fred DiMaggio for the position of Bethlehem supervisor.
King has been at odds with the Republican Committee leadership in the past, but things have escalated markedly since he announced he would seek to primary DiMaggio on the Republican line. Now, even if King turns in a complete petition, the prospects of a September race between the two are muddled in light of the Board of Elections determination.
“I’m assuming that someone’s going to file an objection, based on he’s not a resident of the Town of Bethlehem, and therefore not qualified to run for office in the Town of Bethlehem,” Bledi said.
A question of conviction
Along with the registration challenge came documents that indicated King had been arrested in 1994 and subsequently convicted of larceny in the third degree and forgery in the second degree in Connecticut. He was sentenced to two years of probation.
King acknowledged the conviction. He said a company had refused to pay him for consulting work he had performed. He took a check from the company’s checkbook and several weeks later affixed the president of the company’s name and cashed it for $4,272.28. King argued since he was owed the money there was no felonious intent or intent to defraud, and he did not break the law. His conviction, he said, was the result of his self-representation and a hostile legal system.
King said he suffered “grotesque legal due process violations” and was effectively denied an appeal due to a catch-22 in which the state refused to provide him with a necessary form. He plans to reinstate his appeal and move to clear his name.
“The felony convictions are 20 years ago. I’m not guilty of the crimes in question. I can still appeal. … There’s a process to do that, I’m moving forward with that process,” he said.”
King provided to The Spotlight a notarized statement made in 2005 of his accounting of events surrounding his arrest and conviction, in which he argues he deserves a pardon. He also summarizes his history after the conviction, and describes becoming involved in local politics in Coxsackie.
“One of the few refuges from the obstacle to employment of a felony conviction is an elected official…” he wrote. “I have become involved in local politics because one of our two local town justices in the Town of Coxsackie is an incompetent party hack. … However, our new town supervisor is a tyrannical spendthrift and bully, so my coalition may want to use me as a candidate to defeat the supervisor before he has a chance to solidify his position through patronage.”
He also describes beginning to attend meetings in Bethlehem, his childhood home, and mentioned the “euphoria of being mobbed like a rock star after public hearings” as the reward to speaking out against commercial developments there.
News of the conviction was read to members of the Bethlehem Republican Committee at its endorsement meeting. King claims that before the meeting got under way, McKim approached him with the documents and told him to drop out of the race to keep the matter from going public.
“This is a big deal, because it’s basically blackmail,” King said. “This was an attempt to deny voters a choice.”
McKim recalled a different accounting of events. He said he learned of King’s criminal conviction as part of checking up on him as a potential candidate, and approached King at the following committee meeting merely to advise him the matter would likely become part of any political campaign. He denied having threatened King with the information.
“That was not an insinuation that I made in any way,” McKim said. “That is extortion, and as an attorney I would never do that.”
Bledi argued the criminal conviction raises serious questions about King’s character and was among the reasons the party shot down his attempts to seek leadership roles.
“He has a longer rap sheet than Sheldon Silver and Vito Lopez does at this point,” Bledi said. “It speaks to a bigger issue here. Are you going to trust a man with the town finances who’s been convicted of larceny and forgery?”
King said he has every intent to continue his campaign, and hopes voters will understand his past and circumstances behind it.
“People ultimately have to make their decisions and weigh all the facts,” he said. “I would just remind people that … my actions are 20 years ago. The actions of Peter Kermani, Fred DiMaggio and Rachel Bledi are two weeks ago.”