Law appears to be on Sparaco’s side; Hull and other critics need to calm down

ROCKLAND TIMES EDITORIAL 

You may find yourself reading a Michael Hull blog. And you may find yourself wrapped up in his allegations against Frank Sparaco.

The editorial board of the Rockland County Times was in the same boat not too long ago.

After reviewing the available evidence, however, we no longer have that problem. Hull, who writes most frequently for Rockland Voice and sometimes has even had his work published on this site, as well as contributed to one noteworthy Rockland County Times article, recently unleashed a series of blogs aimed at painting Legislator Sparaco as a dirty cheat and lawbreaker for his actions this primary season.

While we do not posit an opinion on the nature of Hull’s intentions, these allegations are quite weak when looked at closely.

One focus of Hull has been allegations that Sparaco’s team broke the law by listing two adult cousins as his housemates on petition documents. Hull apparently does not believe they live there. The two men have been carrying petitions to help Sparaco in his quest to win control of the Clarkstown GOP Committee away from current Chairman Bob Axelrod.

Hull has dedicated lengthy entries to this issue, but it is difficult to see a motive for Sparaco to lie about his cousins, the Kuropatskis, having a part-time residence in his basement. The main work Sparaco’s cousins have done for his efforts is to carry petition ballots. Each cousin has been paid over $3,000 for petition work. There is no need, however, to register in a district to carry petitions. As per the ruling of the highest court in the state, a New York resident can carry a petition anywhere within the state. 

Moreover, it is highly unlikely that Sparaco needs their votes to win in his own district. It is true one of the cousins is running for a Committee seat, but Sparaco has pointed out he knows dozens of Republicans within his own neighborhood who easily could have filled that role.

We agree that it is fair to question whether a family member who only lives at Sparaco’s house a few nights a week is the best choice choice for GOP Committee, but for Hull to make the matter sound like a criminal offense, and whip up a feeding frenzy, is uncalled for.

The Rockland County Times met Keith Kuropatski and he said he is a manual laborer who usually lives with family. He currently is working on the Tappan Zee Bridge project. He said he and his brother currently hold dual residence in Yonkers and Valley Cottage.

According to New York election law, when one holds two residences, they can choose to vote at either location.  The law also states that when one moves into a county from out of town, they can immediately enroll to be involved in local politics.

Sparaco provided the Rockland County Times with a police report showing the Board of Elections asked sheriff officers to make a visit to his house to confirm the presence of his cousins. According to the police report provided the Rockland County Times, the officers appeared satisfied that their presence was genuine. BOE Commissioner Kristen Stavisky said that residence checks are routine when submitted by a resident. Mr. Hull had submitted the check himself, she noted.

Sparaco also has provided the Rockland County Times with a copy of a lease showing the cousins are each paying $100 a month to stay at Sparaco’s house several nights a week, as of June 2014. He gave the newspaper a tour of the basement and their bedroom.

Hull has also pointed out that on designating petitions the Kurapotskis’ address changed from Yonkers to Valley Cottage and Hull made a very big deal out of this, suggesting the FBI would be interested. But it is doubtful the FBI will take any interest seeing as the different addresses are easily explained by a Valley Cottage lease signed June 4. Any petitions gathered prior listed the previous address at Yonkers.

Hull, through his sources, also accused Sparaco and his allies of using Independence Party money to pay election petitioners to carry Republican ballots. This, Hull insinuates, is illegal.

We agree this use of money is noteworthy, but it is not apparently illegal. Sparaco provided the Rockland County Times with a copy of a high court ruling that indicated a political party has Constitutional rights allowing it to spend money to support a favored candidate even within another party’s primary.  

By all available evidence, we see no case whatsoever against Sparaco on the above mentioned charges.

Hull has also levied other accusations against Sparaco, which the Rockland County Times has yet to review.

Editor’s note: Despite Frank Sparaco’s recent guilty plea to misdemeanor charges, we stand by our analysis of the case