On November 3, 2015 as Fred Akshar’s Million Dollar campaign was handily defeating Barb Fiala in replacing Tom Libous as NYS Senator for the 52nd District, there were two elephants in the room, one representing the Republican Party and the other begging the question never asked of Akshar: Why?
Why would Akshar, a career Broome County sheriff Captain squarely positioned to be the top Sheriff one day and having never held a political office, quit, take a pay cut, and risk unemployment every two years to become a politician?
Incredibly, no one in the media ever asked the question. News not reported is as troubling as “fake news.”
The most obvious answer to why, would be that there was something in Akshar’s personnel folder that was prohibiting that advancement, or otherwise not conducive to his thorough vetting in the public domain. Because this unasked question of why is so obvious, I think it is fair to speculate that the media didn’t miss the question on purpose, but just might be in the tank for Akshar. The only other plausible explanation is garden-variety incompetence.
Ignoring the anecdotal, rumor mill, which is pretty rich in itself, lets look at just those facts we know. Akshar was named in a 2014 lawsuit, alleging misconduct as he dispatched his own brother, a sheriff deputy, to the scene of a disturbance in the City of Binghamton, (normally outside of the sheriff’s territory) at the behest of local attorney and chairman of the Independence Party, Paul Battisti, to an incident involving a family dispute and alleged political support as a quid pro quo for Akshar’s assistance. Subsequent arrests made by Akshar’s brother were later thrown out by the district attorney.
While Akshar was a sheriff Captain, he had a romantic relationship with a female department subordinate. Now we recently learned that again, Akshar is carrying on a romance with another subordinate, this time in his own political organization, a younger woman to whom he has heaped raise after raise, doubling her salary in just over two years. It seems paying women and supervising them makes for easier dating opportunities than Match.com. Converting subordinates to lovers betrays a troubling profile of someone who might well abuse his authority in other areas as well.
The Republican Party needed a Law-And-Order guy to replace disgraced Senator Libous. Party leadership mistakenly assumed that the imagery of a smartly uniformed, broad-shouldered man in a grey Stetson might disguise the reality of a cop willing to weaponize his legal authority, as well as a womanizing abuser of power, commanding romantic attention from those he pays, supervises and controls.
Akshar is cut from the same cloth as the other Albany crooks; seven indicted and arrested just this year in Albany, almost 30 others in total since 2003. The only difference between these other disgraced former politicians and Akshar is that being an ex-cop, he is highly skilled at covering it all up and due to his influence; the local media goes suddenly deaf, dumb and blind.