Complaint lodged against Tusten councilman; Limit on campaign spending at issue
Former Tusten council member Andrea Reynosa has filed a formal complaint with the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) against Ned Lang, who ran against her and won in the November 2012 election for a seat on the town council. The letter was sent on May 3.
Reynosa charges that Lang and the committee that supported him, Friends of Ned Lang, did not file with the state board of elections as required. Any candidate who spends more than $1,000 on a local election is required to file. Reynosa said in her complaint that based on the number of postcards, flyers and ads used in the campaign, it appears both exceeded the $1,000 exemption limit.
She wrote, “As the campaign for Edward [Ned] Lang was noticeably aggressive and costly, many townspeople have been waiting for accurate financial disclosure.”
Lang, who said he did not think the story is worth commenting on, did address the matter in a letter sent on March 28 to Sullivan County Board of Election Commissioner Rodney Gaebel. Lang wrote, “During th e course of my election campaign for the Town of Tusten’s Town Board, several people and groups took it upon themselves to place ads in local newspapers and distribute mailings to the Town of Tusten residents. I did not formalize any committees to serve at my discretion during the course of this election. I trust this solves any concerns other parties may have concerning my election.”
It’s not clear what action, if any, the state BOE will take, but the regulations posted on its website say, “A CF-03 form must be filed by all political committees that support or oppose the nomination or election of any candidate through direct expenditure.” Such a form was not filed for Friends of Ned Lang nor any other group.
The complaint is the latest battle in an ongoing war with Lang on one side, and Reynosa and at times other members of the town board and the town attorney on the other.
Most recently at the Tusten Town Board meeting on April 9, Lang charged Reynosa with improper conduct in the operation of the Tusten Heritage Community Garden and Big Eddy Farmstand project. He said that students who worked in the garden were illegally hired as independent contractors, and he said he alerted the U.S. Internal Revenue Office, located in Binghamton, to the matter.
Supervisor Carol Wingert and town lawyer Jeffrey Clemente said the town auditors had assured them that they did not break any rules regarding the hires.
That incident came in the wake of a lengthy legal battle between Lang and the town board over whether signs Lang erected were in violation of town code. Ultimately, that case was dismissed, but Lang is now suing the town for, among other things, malicious prosecution.
In another development, Lang has applied for a license to open a farmstand on the site of the Narrowsburg Inn, which will presumably compete with the Tusten Heritage Community Garden.
In an interview, Reynosa said, “It would be nice if we could all be civilized and talk about the issues and not be pointing fingers and saying bad things about people’s personalities or making up things that aren’t true; that should be a thing of the past. We’ve got a lot of problems to solve in this town, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get busy and do it.”