In an article published online today, the NY Post reports that upstate FBI agents, possibly working with the Office of the US Attorney Northern District, are investigating allegations of voter fraud, fraudulent nominating petition signatures and possibly personal use of campaign funds by Bronx pols connected to the Bronx Democratic County Committee.
According to the story, materials turned over to the FBI included evidence of alleged voter fraud — particularly alleged fake signatures on voter petitions.
[Click on link to read the NY Post story – http://nypost.com/2015/02/09/fbi-probing-bronx-political-machine-sources/]
One of my local sources says that one document turned over to federal authorities shows that some candidates in unnamed Bronx districts got more votes than the number of voters who went into the booths.
An additional source told me that Jonathan Dienst of WNBC news is investigating and is putting together a news report based on interviews with those persons making those allegations.
But I am circumspect in believing the accusations. I’ve spoken to several sources who believe there are three possible investigative tracks. In 2014, insurgent candidates Elliot Quiñones and William Moore made accusations of petition and voter fraud against Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo. Moore also alleged voter fraud in the 2014 primary election result.
A year earlier, insurgent Julio Pabon found nearly enough fake signatures in an election case involving CM Maria del Carmen Arroyo that almost resulted in her getting tossed off the ballot (in 2013). And an anti-Espaillat group claimed that the Espaillat congressional campaign had forged petition signatures and registered sham voters from the same set of apartment addresses in 2014.
The Diaz/Crespo case involves allegations of forgeries and overvoting. The chief accuser, William Moore is a former pal of Eric Stevenson, the disgraced ex-assemblyman (79AD-Bronx) and a disgruntled ex-employee at the Office of the Bronx Borough President. Moore was fired by then-BP Carrion for cause. Another accuser in this case is Camella Pinkney-Price, a former aide to BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. and ex-chief of staff to Sen. Diaz.
Back In 2013, Pabon and attorney Donald Dunn almost had Councilwoman Arroyo thrown off the Democratic primary ballot for petition fraud. The Bronx DA is supposedly prosecuting the Arroyo petition-gatherers thought responsible for the forgeries.
Former Democratic district leader Ken Padilla wrote In a Facebook post that "If this relates to the Diazes…there is stuff there…and witnesses." Padilla added, "Senator Diaz admitted years ago that he took money from a not-for-profit (the now-defunct Soundview Community in Action), about $5000, to buy furniture for his Senate Office and buy speakers for his campaign vans. But then-AG Spitzer gave [Sen. Diaz] a slap on the wrist." He also says that Spitzer’s successor as state Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo lost the SCA file.
Padilla dismissed involvement by Speaker Heastie in the alleged frauds as "not likely."
Mr. Padilla is a federal ICE official working in Florida.
And the Espaillat accusers didn’t provide convincing evidence to me. Overvoting is harder due to electronic scanning of ballots. I had heard of it but had not seen evidence.
If the accusations reported in the Post story even proved true, it probably can’t be pinned on the Bronx Democratic County organization or Speaker Carl Heastie. And I doubt that County’s election lawyer, Stanley Schlein or an agent acting on the organization’s behalf orchestrated the alleged forgeries or ballot-stuffing.
The Post story by John Crudele seems another attempt to sully the reputation of the new Assembly Speaker and current Bronx county leader Carl Heastie. As I write in a City and State column, Heastie’ s ascension "has drawn a bull’s eye on his back."
Veteran political consultant Jerry Skurnick tweeted a link to the last "scandal" Crudele uncovered [http://t.co/X2xpFrk9xC/s/4j1x]. The link was to a Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) article that called out Crudele for a 2013 column headlined “Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report.” The author of the CJR article wrote that "Crudele re-opened the fake controversy with an atrocious piece of journalism…" that was based on a single discredited source.
As I stated earlier, readers should remain circumspect.
It seems that certain special interests and permanent government types are spooked by the longterm implications of an unencumbered Speaker Heastie. Stay tuned.