2007 – incumbent
|Preceded by||Willis Stephens|
|Born||September 16, 1977
|Residence||Putnam Lake, New York|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||2001-2005|
Gregory R. Ball (born September 16, 1977) is an American politician from the state of New York. He represents New York's 99th assembly district, which includes parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties. He first won election in 2006.
Ball was born in Danbury , Connecticut. Ball graduated from Pawling High School in 1995 and received a Bachelors of Arts in Government from the United States Air Force Academy in 2001. He is currently completing a Masters thesis in International Affairs at Georgetown University. Ball served as a Project Officer in the U.S. Air Force and was discharged from active duty in January 2005 at the rank of Captain.
At times Ball's campaign was noted for its unorthodoxy, including hiring a man who looked like a chicken to follow around the incumbent after Stephens refused to debate him. On September 12, 2006, in the Republican primary for New York's 99th District, Ball defeated Stephens with 70.4% (5,165 votes) to 29.6% (2,176 votes).
Ball was sworn into office on January 8, 2007. The first time Ball rose to speak in the Assembly chamber, he called the legislature "dysfunctional", and withstood boos from his colleagues. Ball was unhappy because lawmakers voted to elect a colleague, Thomas DiNapoli as the new State Comptroller, disregarding the recommendations of a bipartisan panel appointed by former Governor Eliot Spitzer consisting of former state Comptrollers who suggested three separate finalists and had not found DiNapoli to be qualified for the job. The next day, Governor Spitzer called Ball to express support for his sentiments.
According to The Journal News, one key to Ball's success was that his campaign identified the concern local voters cared most about: illegal immigration. The New York Sun reported that Ball defines himself as a moderate on the immigration issue.
Ball was referred to as "one of the rising stars in the Republican Party" during speculation that he would run against freshman Congressman John Hall in 2008, although he later ruled out a challenge against Hall.
An oft-quoted line from his campaign literature was that "illegal immigration is illegal". In June 2008, Ball's campaign sent out an e-mail piece that quoted from a Government Accountability Office study on illegal aliens and crime, which alleged that 55,322 illegal alien respondents had been arrested a total of 459,614 times. A local journalist noted that the study linked in the e-mail pertained to prison inmates, and stated that 68% of the 46,023 convictions were for immigration-related crimes, followed by 21% for drug-related crimes and 11% for other offenses.
In early May 2008, John Degnan, the former Mayor of Brewster, New York, announced he would be mounting a challenge to the freshman Assemblyman. In the September 9th, 2008 primary, Ball was renominated by a 3 to 1 margin amongst Republicans voting. He again faced Degnan, who had the Democratic nomination, in the general election, and was re-elected with 60% of the vote.
On July 9, The Westchester Fair Campaign Practices Committee, a group of volunteer members of the League of Women Voters, met to review a mailer distributed by the Ball campaign following complaints by his opponent. The committee claimed that 10 of 12 claims submitted were "unfair" statements made in campaign literature published in newspapers and issued as a mailer in June about his opponent, John Degnan. Following the ruling, Ball contended that the committee was biased, since it contained one registered Republican, one Independent, and eight Democrats, and has made similar rulings against other Republicans in the past.
In May 2009, Ball announced he was a candidate for Congress in New York's 19th congressional district. Ball drew some attention by raising more money than incumbent Congressman John Hall in the second quarter of 2009. On November 21, 2009, Ball abandoned his Congressional run and decided to run for State Senate in District 40, the seat currently held by Vincent Leibell.
As the Washington Post would report in 2007, a significant portion of Ball's funds for his 2006 assembly race were raised through a charity polo match in Washington, D.C. called "The Courage Cup" in 2005. Ball had been stationed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., when the first Courage Cup was held in 2004, raising money for charities including nearly $8,000 for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based Work to Ride program.
The event was created to bring together Washington professionals and the polo community together, and grew to become one of the largest polo events on the east coast. Ball founded the charity in 2004, prior to his run for office. His former friends resisted his attempt to retake a leadership role in 2007, and Ball countered that he was The Courage Cup's rightful owner and that the two women stole his intellectual property.
A Washington Post article from June 2007 reported that one of the event directors offered tickets at different price level with proceeds going to a Political Action Committee named Citizens United for Ethical Growth (CUEG), which Ball operated as President in Fall of 2004. Ball's campaign stated it had nothing to do with the fund raising and the destination of profits from the event were clearly stated in one section of an online contribution form.
Several Courage Cup attendees told the Post that what they were unaware their contributions would be used for political purposes. Under a new President, CUEG transferred $18,000 into Assemblyman Ball's campaign fund in 2006, which included $610.09 raised from the 2004 Courage Cup event. Ball later provided refunds to two of the seven contributors who gave money to CUEG through the Courage Cup. The controversy returned to the spotlight when it became public knowledge that Tareq and Michaele Salahi were involved 
On August 26, 2008, a local newspaper known as The Putnam Times published court documents surrounding the break up between Ball and a Washington, D.C. woman in 2003. Ball blamed his Democratic challenger John Degnan for hiring private investigators for the newspaper article, a charge which Degnan denied. Ball stated both he and the woman both filed for orders of protection following the end of their relationship. In November 2003, both Ball and the woman asked the court to dismiss their complaints against each other, which was done without determining whether what they claimed in their complaints was true, or just two people "venting after the messy breakup of a romantic relationship."Rojas, Marcela. Ball told The Daily News that "It was just a heartfelt breakup where both parties jointly requested a 'cooling off' period, and the entire matter was mutually dismissed. My life is an open book, and always has been."
While The Putnam Times, a local paper incorrectly reported that Ball violated the order of protection by following the woman to Israel on July 20, News Channel 12, a regional network, pointed out that order of protection was filed six days earlier on July 14, and court records state Ball traveled to Israel on June 20. The Poughkeepsie Journal also later pointed out that there was never a criminal restraining order, and the documents printed by the Times was actually a temporary protection order, which anyone can request.
Following the revelations that Ball's ex-girlfriend filed for an order of protection against him in 2003, on September 3, 2008 the Journal News reported that a former member of Ball's staff had accused him of sexually harassing her in a letter sent to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver detailing the incident. Perrault's accusations were later found to be fabrications and Ball was exonerated after she was threatened, pressured and paid to drop the charges.
Initially, News 12 analyst Mike Edelman called the report "not credible," and many questioned the timing of the complaint, as the former staff member waited a year to write the letter until a few days before the primary election. The previous day, Ball had released e-mails from his former Chief of Staff, which stated that Perreault was ready to "go forward with a lawsuit and 'embellish' some of the details," calling the letter to Silver into question. Ball said the letter was part of a "smear campaign", and that the ex-Chief of Staff was a "mole" for State Senator Vincent Leibell, who was backing his primary opponent. Ball released a taped phone conversation between the ex-Chief of Staff and a local political candidate, where his former deputy stated he was working for "the senate" to "neuter" Ball. Although at first, the ex-Chief of Staff denied working for the senate to The Journal News, the next day, he admitted it in another article, but Leibell denied any conspiracy.
The Assembly Ethics committee met in October 2008, reaching a ‘not guilty’ verdict and ruling that no harassment ever occurred, and unanimously voted to throw out the frivolous charges against Assemblyman Ball. The accuser, the 60-year-old Perrault, had been the target of numerous sexual harassment allegations at a prior job, where she was a supervisor. It was noted that Ball's accuser had herself settled four lawsuits for an undisclosed sum, at least three of which accused her of sexual harassment.
Willis Stephens, Jr.
|New York State Assembly
Gregory R. Ball (born 1977) is a American business executive, former United States Air Force officer and member of the New York State Assembly. Ball is noted for his views his views on illegal immigration and his colorful speeches on the floor of the State Assembly.