October 30-31, 2010

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Two ask for investigation into ‘support Saland’ signs

RHINEBECK – Two men, one from Rhinebeck and the other from Hudson, have written to the Legislative Ethics Commission asking for an investigation into signs posted at firehouses urging voters to support Senator Stephen Saland for reelection.

The men allege the signs were posted as “payback” for grants the senator has secured for the fire departments. Saland dismissed that charge saying it is an “outrageous lie.”

“Firefighters should not be subject to this kind of political pressure,” wrote Lloyd Hamilton, a fireman from the Hillside Fire Department in Rhinebeck.

Victor Mendolla of Hudson, in the same October 28 letter to the commission executive director, said the Columbia County fire coordinator wrote to fire chiefs requesting a message be posted on their outside signs “in appreciation of Senator Saland’s years of awarding them ‘grants and monies’.”

The men charge Saland “has clearly used his official position to receive benefits that he would not have received but for his official position.”

Saland, meanwhile, wrote to the commission on Friday, saying the complaint came from a “Democrat chairman or committeeman and a Democrat activist who says he is a firefighter” and the senator said the allegations are “a lie and completely without merit.”

Saland, a Republican, dismissed the allegations. “The charge that I would ever threaten any fire chief, of for that matter, any local official, is preposterous,” he wrote. “In the case of this particular complaint, it is an outrageous lie. In fact, I challenge these two Democrats to find a single fire chief who will testify under oath that I did that.”

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