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For a while last week, it looked as if Samara Barend, the long shot but well-regarded 27-year-old Democratic nominee in the race to replace retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R), was handed a gift when the previously sealed divorce records of the Republican nominee, state Sen. Randy Kuhl, began trickling out.

But now, just as swiftly, it is Barend who finds herself on the defensive, after Steuben County officials revealed late last week that it was her campaign manager who was responsible for obtaining the documents — despite the Democrat’s repeated denials. The officials said the manager, Jonah Siegellak, had sent a young campaign worker to the county courthouse to obtain information on Kuhl.

Whether Barend’s campaign knew that the divorce records would be made available — under New York law, they are supposed to be sealed for 100 years — is unclear. But the volunteer returned with the explosive documents, which eventually wound up in the hands of various media outlets — something the Barend campaign also denies being responsible for.

So instead of having to explain documents that suggest erratic behavior, Kuhl instead has been able to go on the offensive, accusing Barend of lying about the documents and invading his family’s privacy.
— Josh Kurtz

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