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Accused “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” campaign sign thief to walk free

Accused “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” campaign sign thief to walk free

Extreme Ithaca Liberal is a state of mind, not a geographic location.

You remember the Extreme Ithaca Liberal campaign theme used successfully by Republican Representative Tom Reed in my home district NY-23?

The Extreme Ithaca Liberal theme was used to beat well-financed liberal challengers over the head with a caricature of Ithaca liberals. It was a brilliant campaign theme because there was at least a kernel of truth to it, and the challenger didn’t have to be from Ithaca for it to work.

Being an Extreme Ithaca Liberal is a state of mind, not a geographic location.


The Extreme Ithaca Liberal campaign infuriated liberals in the district, so much so that Extreme Ithaca Liberal campaign road signs started disappearing. It drove Tracy Mitrano, who lost by 10 points in 2018 despite raising millions in a Democratic wavelet year, to the point of exasperation, Democrat challenger Tracy Mitrano cries foul over Tom Reed “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” ads (#NY23).

In a fairly celebrated incident, the Reed campaign embedded a tracking device in one of their signs, and used that device to track a sign to the home of Gary McCaslin, a local activist.

When confronted at his home about taking the sign by Reed’s campaign manager Nick Weinstein, McCaslin refused to hand over the tracking device, leading to criminal charges of petit larceny.

The court denied McCaslin’s motion to dismiss the charges, and the case was scheduled for trial.

But a plea deal was reached which effectively drops the charges. The Corning Leader reports:

The Rev. Gary McCaslin no longer has a black cloud hanging over his head.

, who was facing petit larceny charges after taking an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” sign which contained a GPS tracking device last summer, had his case officially dismissed in Corning Town Court Monday morning.

Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said that an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal was entered Monday and the judge immediately dismissed the case – citing that the term had been met.

“There were no additional conditions,” Baker said. “The statute does not require how long the term needs to be.”

McCaslin is pleased the charges are behind him, now.

“In a negotiated moment of sanity (Monday) in Corning Town Court my case with the Reed campaign, which has held the 23rd District on the edge of its collective seats, has been dismissed,” McCaslin said. “No charges, no penalties, no restrictions. As if it never happened.”

McCaslin’s lawyer is claiming vindication, as reported by the Elmira Star-Gazette:

“Rev. McCaslin did not intend to steal property belonging to the Democratic candidates, Congressman Reed or whoever placed the sign reminding people to vote,” Sonsire said. “He, like many residents of Steuben County, does not like seeing political clutter laying around on public property after an election. He was simply acting as a good citizen to keep our highways clean.

“Rev. McCaslin and his wife are upstanding citizens who have served out community for decades in numerous ways,” Sonsire said. “The idea that friends and neighbors may believe Gary committed a crime has been exceedingly difficult for them to comes to term with.”

The Reed campaign provided us with this statement:

Yesterday morning Gary McCaslin accepted the Steuben County District Attorney’s offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on the charge of petit larceny.

“I am pleased that Gary McCaslin accepted the offer from the District Attorney allowing this matter to be resolved,” said Nicholas Weinstein the victim in the criminal case against Gary McCaslin and the campaign manager Tom Reed for Congress in 2018.

“We suggested an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal would be appropriate to the District Attorney’s office at the outset of these criminal proceedings and the District Attorney extended this offer to Gary McCaslin at their first appearance. We are pleased that Gary McCaslin and his attorneys have finally accepted an offer now that the political scrutiny on the matter has subsided.”

The case is over for Gary McCaslin. And so too is the Extreme Ithaca Liberal campaign theme. As we reported earlier, Reed has decided to drop that theme for the future, Tom Reed shelves “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” theme for future reelection bids (#NY23)



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This stinks!
If Gary McCaslin is so concerned with “political clutter” by signs after the election, a commensurate penalty would be 20 hours picking up trash on the side of the streets.

I would make him follow up on what he declares as his underlying motivation.

Both sides should now be fined for wasting the court’s time.

    There was a theft by the Rev. and the value of the GPS tracking device apparently met the minimum state level for a criminal act, so the charge was not unreasonable. McCasland could have just returned the tracker, he knew it wasn’t his property, so he’s a thief, a petty thief (pun intended), but a thief nonetheless. Apparently the Judge is a Lefty too, he dismissed the case without waiting for what the DA proposed for the “anticipated” dismissal.

In any case, mission accomplished. And if removing signs is now defacto legal, let’s all get into the game. Who is going to waste money on these eyesores if it’s legal to just pull over and scoop them up?

I love it when politics rule jurisprudence.

In the first place, McCaslin was not charged with theft for taking thee signs. He was charged with theft when he refused to return the GPS tracking device from the sign. THAT was the criminal violation. The claim that he was picking up abandoned campaign signs was spin.

In the second place, how does this affect every future petit theft charge in the state? Most similar cases are disposed of by withholding adjudication pending the completion of a period of probation. Even when no actual penalty [fine or community service] is imposed, the miscreant still has to stay out of trouble for a period of time in order to realize the benefits of the court’s mercy. But, now it seems that anyone who commits a petit theft will have the option of being released without having to prove their willingness to live within the law.

The Rev. Gary McCaslin has been exposed as the kind of intellectual lightweight that loses his mind over elections. He will either shape up, or be reminded of this embarrassing incident the next time he goes bananas. He lives in a small town. Nobody will forget.

    Edward in reply to Valerie. | February 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Whether intellectual lightweight or not, he’s a thief. Hope his congregation (if he has one) understands they have a preacher who’s a thief.

He had to pay a big chunk of legal fees. I wonder who picked up the tab? Illegal use of campaign money?

What kind of “reverend” does this?

the Steuben County District Attorney’s offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on the charge of petit larceny.

What an expensive way to do nothing.

If hardware was involved, we’d name it after Rube Goldberg. It’d be more interesting, and less expensive.