Rifle raffle stirs up controversy in race for Rensselaer County DA position


A rifle is at the center of a controversy surrounding the DA's race in Rensselaer County. The Smith and Wesson .223 is being raffled off as part of a fundraiser sponsored by the Hoosick and Pittstown Republican Parties in honor of DA Joel Abelove. Abelove is seeking reelection in November.

In a Facebook post on the Joel Abelove for District Attorney page, Abelove posted a photo of the rifle next to a flyer for the fundraiser, asking people to come out and support. Shortly after it went up, people began commenting.

One person commented, 'Are you insane? How do you know if some lunatic is not the winner and you wind up with a school shooting on your hands?'

Someone else weighing in calling the raffle a deadly and greedy way to make a profit.

'For people to be upset about that, I think maybe they don't like firearms or they don't like the Second Amendment. This is a perfectly legal Safe Act compliant firearm,' said Abelove.

Abelove says it is no secret he's a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.

'I see nothing wrong with promoting one of the amendments to our Constitution,' he said.

His Democratic opponent, Mary Pat Donnelly, is questioning the legality of the raffle. In a statement sent to NewsChannel 13, Donnelly wrote:

'It's a violation of the law for a political committee to engage in a raffle. The public has no idea how, or if, this money will be funneled to my opponent's campaign. This is an example of poor judgment. It smacks of impropriety and just further erodes public trust, which is already in jeopardy.'

The Board of Elections tells NewsChannel 13 the raffle is not a violation of election law. The New York State gaming Commission says while they can't discuss this case specifically, political parties are barred from conducting raffles. A call to to the Hoosick Republican Committee went unanswered on Friday.

As for Abelove, he says he will continue to support the Second Amendment and will be at another event sponsored by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association on July 21.

'I hope people come out and support these events. I hope they support what we're trying to do. Our office has been very successful and I look forward to continuing that for the next four years,' said Abelove.

The post has since been removed from the page.