Cobb-recording teen affiliated with Stefanik

Preston Scagnelli, 17, speaks beside fellow students with the Teenager Republicans of Saratoga County on April 3.
PHOTOGRAPHER: ERICA MILLERPreston Scagnelli, 17, speaks beside fellow students with the Teenager Republicans of Saratoga County on April 3. PHOTOGRAPHER: ERICA MILLER

By Stephen Williams

Gazette Reporter

21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — A Clifton Park teenager who secretly recorded a Democratic congressional candidate speaking about gun control in May has close ties to U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik and was paid by Republicans, The Daily Gazette has confirmed.

Preston Scagnelli, a 17-year-old Shenendehowa High School student whose name was revealed on Tuesday, lists himself on his LinkedIn page as an intern at Elise For Congress since June, and a volunteer with the Saratoga County Republican Committee.

The National Republican Congressional Committee said it has used him as a “tracker,” someone who records a candidate as part of opposition research. Federal Elections Commission reports show he received three payments from the NRCC totaling $979.57 between May 30 and June 27. Payments are described as being for “research materials consulted.”

Chris Martin, a regional spokesman for the NRCC, acknowledged the committee uses “trackers” to record the actions of candidates, and subsequently said it was using Scagnelli as a tracker, rather than him making the recording on his own and bringing it to them. “He did not approach us,” Martin said.

Asked if it was common for the NRCC to use teens, Martin said by email: “I’m not getting into detail on our tracking operations. We work with trackers across the country to expose Democrats for lying to voters about their positions on important issues and we will continue to do so.”

The Post-Star of Glens Falls publicly identified the high school senior on Tuesday, a day after North Country Public Radio did an extensive report that described his Republican and conservative links, but without naming him.  The identity of the person who made the recording wasn’t previously known.