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Alexandria Republican committee leaders accused of attempting to rig the election

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — Leaders of the Republican Town Committee in Alexandria are being accused by fellow Republicans of trying to rig the fall election.

The head of Jefferson County’s Republican Party says that some of the committee’s actions may have been “ill-advised,” although it did not break any laws.

According to Ronald G. Thomson and Daniel B. Peterson, town committee Chairman James E. Parker and longtime member F. Sampie Sutton chose which candidate petitions would be presented to voters and also called the police on some candidates and their supporters for attending a publicly advertised local committee meeting in May.

Neither Mr. Parker nor Mr. Sutton returned several calls seeking comment since Wednesday.

Mr. Thomson is running for a seat on the Republican Committee, and Mr. Peterson’s wife, Shannon M., is running for town clerk.

In an email to the Times, Mr. Peterson said the committee is supposed to carry petitions for all candidates who had notified it of their intent to run — without prejudice — and leave it up to voters to decide whom to support.

But this year, the committee, at the direction of Mr. Parker and Mr. Sutton, helped gather signatures and file paperwork for certain people, Mr. Peterson said.

Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman Donald G.M. Coon III said, however, that “there is no obligation on the part of the committee to carry all of the petitions.”

Mr. Thomson, owner of several Alexandria Bay businesses, including Uncle Sam Boat Tours, said he held three informational sessions to help all Republican candidates file their paperwork in a timely manner.

Apparently, at least one committee member had taken offense and sent out a meeting notice for May 29 at the Plessis Fire Hall with a footnote at the end that reads, “This is the official Republican Party not the Uncle Sam Tea Party.”

When people showed up — more than a dozen candidates and a couple of supporters — for the May meeting, Mr. Parker abruptly declared the meeting a private function for committee members only, Mr. Peterson said.

The meeting notice, however, invites “all candidates and others interested in helping with the petition process.”

Mr. Sutton subsequently called police to have people removed and even “made threats of violence” to one of the people in attendance, Mr. Peterson said.

Mr. Thomson said one of the state troopers, upon reading the meeting notice and talking to people at the scene, declined to remove anyone from the crowd but offered to arrest the person who had threatened harm if the alleged victim wanted to press charges.

At that point, Chairman Parker decided to cancel the meeting, Mr. Peterson said.

“It wasn’t illegal but probably ill-advised to try to throw them out,” Mr. Coon said.

Mr. Thomson said the local Republican committee is clearly “broken” and he is advocating for change.

He and Mr. Peterson had recently filed objections with the Jefferson County Board of Elections against five petitions, those of Alexandria Highway Superintendent David H. Bain, running for re-election, and Republican Committee candidates Mr. Sutton, William E. Elk, James R. Hagan and Timothy J. Honeywell.

All of their objections were upheld Tuesday and the petitions were removed for lack of sufficient signatures.

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