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Stefanik’s senior adviser is one of the worst choices she has made

Two or three years ago, during one of Elise Stefanik’s visits to the Post-Star office, she said something kind about the project my wife and I have undertaken, writing about our journey through Alzheimer’s disease.

She cared about the subject and had been following our work and appreciated it, she said.

I liked that very much, not because she is a member of Congress but because she is a human being, and the kindness of other people has meant a lot to me during this time.

Her kindness was an example of what I have always believed, that our humanity is more important than our politics and can connect us despite differences.

Last year, an employee at the paper was out for a week and it fell to me to make the calls to confirm letters to the editor. While doing that, I realized that Stefanik’s campaign had been recruiting teenagers in Saratoga County to research certain topics and write on them in letters to the paper. I made several calls to confirm the story, then wrote a blog post about it.

In response, Elise Stefanik’s senior adviser, Alex deGrasse, accused me on Twitter of harassing minors. He also apparently spread this slander in person, because a few days later, a prominent local businessman told our publisher he had heard talk about it.

This week, I stumbled across a series of tweets deGrasse wrote in January, saying false and cruel things about Ken Tingley, the longtime editor of the Post-Star, who retired last year. Ken did a brilliant job of leading the newsroom for 20 years, insisting on journalistic excellence and bringing state and national recognition to the paper and its reporters.

Ken stood up for journalistic integrity and independence. Since his retirement, he has continued writing columns, as pointed and insightful as ever, and since some of them have criticized Stefanik, they have made deGrasse mad.

Unfortunately, deGrasse cannot respond with pointed, insightful commentary of his own. Instead, he stoops to personal insults that are also lies. As one small example, he tweeted that Ken was “forced into retirement, otherwise known as ‘you’re fired.'”

I was here. Ken retired on his own schedule and because he wanted to.

You can find nasty gossips everywhere, people who delight in calumnies and live to make others squirm with anger. They represent something unfortunate in the human makeup, something that we all, at times, can see in ourselves.

No one is forcing Elise Stefanik to employ this man, and no one forced her to promote him to “senior adviser.” His mean-spirited insults and low-class innuendo are part of what he does for her. She condones it. She has rewarded it.

Elise Stefanik is a human being, capable of kindness and cruelty. Like the rest of us, she is defined by the choices she makes. She is making a bad one with Alex deGrasse, but, unfortunately for all of us, it is a choice that fits the political path she is following.

Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star in Glens Falls.

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