North Country Assemblyman accused of political espionage

William Barclay (R-Pulaski)

William Barclay (R-Pulaski)

Here’s something you don’t hear every day.  In the high stakes game of New York politics, North Country Assemblyman William Barclay faces a claim that he took part in a scheme to place an electronic tracking device on another state Assembly member’s car.  The report first surfaced in the New York Daily News.

According to the article, Barclay — chair of the Republican Party’s statewide Assembly Campaign Committee — took part in a decision to hire a private investigator to track a Democratic lawmaker from Suffolk County.  The P-I reportedly put an electronic tracker on the car of Assemblyman Edward Hennessey.  This from the Daily News:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it reminded him of Watergate, the gold standard for political dirty tricks.  “Any citizen should have the right to traverse wherever they want without being tracked by a GPS device,” Silver said. “The public should be shocked and outraged by it.”

The newspaper reports that Republicans were hoping to determine whether Hennessey actually lived within his district.   It appears that the practice of placing a tracking device on someone else’s car is actually legal.  Barclay, who represents the 120th Assembly district, including a chunk of Fulton and Jefferson counties, hasn’t commented on the report.

Rochester Assemblyman Joseph Morelle has called on Barclay to apologize.

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10 Comments on “North Country Assemblyman accused of political espionage”

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  1. Mr. Wakiki says:


    When a private investigator does this to track a spouse to see if s/he is having an affair… is it legal because the husband/wife authorizes the tracking device…

    Or is it always illegal?

  2. Mr. Kent says:

    Typical. I can just see how the Assembly Campaign Committee organizational meeting went:

    Barclay-” OK men, listen up. We can either find some great candidates to run for office and present some policy ideas to make New York State a better State, or we can hire these guys I know to put some trackers on our opponents cars and see if we can find some mud to throw in the next election. What say you?”

    The NYS GOP- ” Get those guys on the phone now.”

  3. Paul says:

    Mr. W, If you look at the article again it says that it is legal.

  4. elderberry says:

    We have these cameras on so many roads, taking pictures. Also on supermarkets, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. Not a lot of difference, except I guess they would be harder for a party Committee Chair to get access to.

  5. The Original Larry says:

    Only in the People’s Republic of New York could it be legal to place a tracking device on someone else’s vehicle!

  6. Michael Greer says:

    If it’s legal to place a tracking device on someone’s car, then it should also be legal to throw the bastard down a flight of stairs.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’m surprised to see that he is a lawyer!

  8. Walker says:

    Knuck, Richard Nixon was a lawyer, too.

  9. Walker says:

    Larry, its not just in the People’s Republic: according to this site, it’s generally legal to place a tracking device on someone else’s vehicle if you place the GPS device on the outside of the car (like under the bumper), if you attach the device when the car is in a public place, and if you could obtain the same tracking information by physically trailing the vehicle.

    That last is kind of interesting– sounds like you can’t any use information that would show the vehicle traveling on private lands.

    Of course, this info is from a site that’s trying to sell tracking devices and service. They’ll gladly sell you devices you can put in a person’s backpack or purse… no info on how those devices work legally!

  10. The Original Larry says:

    Again, it’s a good thing stupidity isn’t a crime. That about sums it up.

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