Bryan Best, who is running for Guilderland’s receiver of taxes on the Republican line, also wants to secure the Independence Party line and, along with his fellow Republicans, has launched a write-in campaign for Tuesday’s primary.
We have no problem with that. It’s always good to give voters a choice.
We do have a problem with a letter Best mailed last week to about 500 Guilderland residents, seeking their votes in the primary. In the letter, Best writes, “The Independence party Chairman has recently been embroiled in a scandal when it came to light in a recent article in The Altamont Enterprise that he received $30,000 as a member of the Guilderland Planning Board, in exchange for endorsing candidates.”
We wrote no such article. In our Aug. 29 edition, we ran a letter to the editor alleging that Paul Caputo, the chairman for Albany County’s Independence party, was involved in a pay-to-play scheme. Our letter writers are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.
We ran a story at the top of the front page in that same Aug. 29 edition, and you can read it here. These are the facts. Both Democrats and Republicans filled out questionnaires and were interviewed by the Independence Party Committee; the committee chose to endorse the Democrats.
Caputo was appointed to the Guilderland Planning board in 2001, after serving on the town board in 1997 and 1998, by a unanimous bipartisan vote. The first time he was not appointed unanimously was 2009 when the two Republicans on the board at the time voted against the appointment.
Like the other members of the planning board, Caputo has been paid an annual salary of roughly $4,000 for the last 12 years, bringing the total to about $48,000.
Would it be wise for someone who chairs a local political party to resign from government boards to avoid the appearance of conflict? Of course.
But does this mean Caputo is “embroiled in a scandal?” No. Does it mean he was paid “in exchange for endorsing candidates?” Certainly not.
And did The Altamont Enterprise write an article that said these things? We did not. We dislike our good name being misused in this way.
There is no evidence that the Independence Party endorsements are tied to Caputo’s planning board salary. When we asked Bryan Best if he had such evidence, he said, “I have absolutely no evidence that he did that; I think the facts speak for themselves.”
We believe our readers and Guilderland voters are able to read the facts and decide for themselves.
Best’s letter goes on to say, “As a member of the Independence party, don’t let the Party Chairman get rich at your expense.” He also writes, “This type of corruption HAS TO STOP! It is time to bring integrity back into public office.”
“Integrity,” which rests on honesty, is written in boldface type. Odd for a letter with a bald-faced lie: The Enterprise did not run an article stating that Caputo received pay in exchange for endorsing candidates.