Ed McDonough, the Democrat Elections Commissioner in Rensselaer County embroiled in a voter fraud scheme which has seen others of his party either serve time or accept plea deals for their actions, will go back on trial in November, with jury selection beginning on the 13th of that month.
From the Times Union:
In November, Rensselaer County Democratic Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough will stand trial for the second time this year on charges he allegedly forged absentee ballots to help Democrats secure the 2009 Working Families Party primary…
… McDonough, who faces 38 felony counts of second-degree forgery and 36 felony counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, was first tried alongside former City Councilman Michael LoPorto earlier this year. That highly publicized trial took nine weeks, beginning Jan. 17 and ending in a mistrial with a hung jury March 13.
This trial, and the ensuing ones should provide a plethora of exciting details. The first combined trial with LoPorto (who has since been acquitted) and McDonough saw accusations of voters being paid for their signatures, accusations of immigrants being targeted, stories of mentally disabled men being used for their ballots, and Democrat councilmen joking about their past felony convictions.
Such is the state of politics in upstate New York.
McDonough’s trial will then likely be followed by the trials of two other Democrats allegedly involved in the scheme.
Former City Council President Clement Campana awaits trial on charges of first-degree falsifying business records and four counts of illegal voting, all felonies, and a count of conspiracy to promote or prevent election, a misdemeanor.
City Councilman Gary Galuski still faces four felony counts of first-degree falsifying business records.
Our original prediction was that the first trial for LoPorto would end up in his acquittal, based on varying witness accounts and a convenient changing of testimony by Working Families Party operative Sara Couch. McDonough does not have such luxuries, and may well face some level of conviction.
McDonough also currently serves on the school board for the Lansingburgh School District.
Former City Councilman Michael Loporto, has been acquitted on all 22 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, in the upstate New York ballot fraud scandal. In May, we predicted that this would be the outcome:
“LoPorto was wise in having his trial separated from his colleague (Ed McDonough). The hard evidence against LoPorto’s knowledge of the scam is limited, and even witness testimony on his side of things was inconsistent.”
When the re-trial got underway, testimony was again inconsistent. While several people had placed LoPorto at the scene of the ballot forgery, witnesses who testified could not agree on his exact placement. One witness had placed him in close proximity, about an arm’s length, while another had him a good 20 feet away.
But the real break for LoPorto came in May, when Working Families Party operative Sara Couch, requested to change her original testimony. The Troy Record reported:
A key witness in the original trial of Democrats Ed McDonough and Michael LoPorto for their suspected roles in the 2009 Working Families Party ballot fraud scandal seeks to add to her original testimony.
Couch plans to add one statement that wasn’t contained in her initial testimony as well as adding some words LoPorto had said to her after she left a meeting with former City Councilman John Brown which took place at LoPorto’s restaurant. Brown, who was later convicted of a felony charge in connection to the case, tried convincing WFP members present at that meeting to put a press release out blaming the scandal on former city DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch. LoPorto was said to have been in the back cooking and not part of the meeting.
The contrasting statements gave two very different impressions. In her previous testimony, Couch said that LoPorto had told her, ““I never gave you those ballots”, suggesting a cover-up. In her revised statements, Couch said LoPorto followed her to her car, gave her a hug and said, “Had I known, I would have never handed you those ballots.”
LoPorto had maintained his innocence throughout the scandal. His legal team has made a good point throughout, which is this – The prosecutor Trey Smith, seems to have given very favorable deals to Democrats in the scandal who stood to be most readily convicted for their part in the fraud, while actively pursuing those who played a minor or unwitting (in this case) role.
The question is, why?
The Albany Times Union has broken a story involving correction officers in Rensselaer county trying to unseat the incumbent Republican sheriff, Jack Mahar, through unsavory means. The crux of the story involves getting inmates to register or change their enrollment to the Conservative Party, giving the Democrat challenger, Gary Gordon, an edge in the general election. Gordon ended up capturing the Conservative line by a narrow margin, but losing the general election to Mahar.
Reports show a labor union leader for the corrections officers, Kevin Rogers, allegedly dropping off 140 voter registration forms that enrolled people in the Conservative Party, of which four have been confirmed to be inmates.
Via the Times Union:
Correction officers at Rensselaer County Jail pushed to register inmates to vote in last fall’s primary and general election as part of an effort to unseat Sheriff Jack Mahar.
State and federal law enforcement agencies have launched broad investigations into the activities of the correction officers, including whether their initiative to garner inmates’ votes violated state or federal laws. The probes are part of a broader investigation that began when a group of correction officers accused their labor leaders of fraud and looting union dues for personal use.
The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Attorney’s office are involved in the investigation, according to two people briefed on the matter. The investigations follow years of documented civil rights violations inside the county correctional facility, including systemic beatings of prisoners, strip-search policies that were declared unconstitutional by a federal court and sexual assaults of inmates.
Representatives for the U.S. Attorney’s office and the state attorney general declined comment.
While inmates exercising their right to vote is not illegal – it is rare according to Republican election’s commissioner, Larry Bugbee – having the corrections officers solicit them or help them register, is.
Gordon, to his credit, voiced unease at the prospect of taking such actions.
“There came a point in time during my campaign that I became aware of a drive to get Conservative voters, to get people to register,” Gordon said. “Shortly after that there was discussion to talk to inmates, to get inmates to register, and I put a stop to that. … I don’t even know who was in the room when we were discussing it. Piche or Rogers may have been there. The decision was made not to solicit inmates.”
These latest allegations against the officer’s union – Sheriffs Employees Association of Rensselaer County (SEARCO) – stem from another investigation which alleges that Mark A. Piche and Rogers, president and vice-president of the union respectively, used tens of thousands of dollars in employee dues to hold parties at strip clubs, bars, and to make donations to political campaigns.
Two weeks ago, the Times Union reported:
The former leaders of a Rensselaer County jail officers union spent tens of thousands of dollars in union money for outings at top-scale restaurants, strip clubs, bars and to make contributions to political campaigns and organizations in which they had a personal interest.
Apparently, the union leaders covered up their transgressions by refusing to reveal their itemized expenditures, instead leaving over $14,000 worth of transactions with the vague label of ‘donation’, and another untraceable $8,000 in ATM withdrawals. Banking records obtained by the Times Union however, show some questionable transactions made using the union debit card.
On Jan. 3, 2008, the records show, the union’s debit card was used to pay for a $1,611.75 tab at Angelo’s 677 Prime, an upscale Albany steakhouse. The same day, records show the union’s debit card was used for $52.85 in purchases from Troy Food Mart; $81.83 at a Troy diner; $55 at an Asian-style restaurant; and a withdrawal of $103.50 from an ATM at a topless dance club, Double Vision, in Halfmoon.
Two weeks earlier, on Dec. 21, 2007, the debit card was used for a $62 purchase at Valenti’s Pub in Troy and also for two withdrawals totaling $344 from the same topless bar in Halfmoon. On other occasions, the card was used to pay for multi-hundred-dollar tabs at area bars and restaurants.
They also used their debit card to either donate or purchase tickets to events made by a local professional boxing promotion to the tune of nearly $2,000, over $2,000 in donations for a youth baseball team, and a whopping $20,000 in restaurant and bar tabs at Piche’s family owned restaurant.
Piche and Gordon were topics of conversation in a very heated election between Mahar and Gordon last year, as they tried to get the Democrat candidate to fix tickets in exchange for their endorsement.
During last year’s campaign, audiotapes of recorded telephone conversations between union officials, including Piche, and Gordon, the Rensselaer County district attorney’s investigator who challenged Mahar for the job, were released by the sheriff’s department. The tapes revealed union members apparently pressuring Gordon to help fix traffic tickets for their relatives in exchange for their endorsement and work on his campaign.
Gordon flat-out denies any role in the alleged scheme, and the taped conversations offer no proof to the contrary. But while Gordon’s role may have only been as pawn to the union whim, the union corruption can not be ignored.
These findings also come on the heels of a major voter fraud case in upstate New York, where absentee ballots were allegedly forged by Democrat operatives in an attempt to secure the Working Families Party line in the elections.
Perhaps it’s about time we acknowledge upstate New York as a contender for the most politically corrupt area in the nation. Chicago would be proud.
The ballot fraud case in Troy, New York, shifted from a long parade of defrauded voter testimony, and focused on two operatives in the Working Families Party (WFP) Monday – Thomas Aldrich and James Welch. The trial involves two Democrats – former City Councilman Michael LoPorto, and Rensselaer County Board of Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough. The two have been accused of over 100 combined felonies in connection with the alleged defrauding of the 2009 Working Families Party primary.
James Welch, the chair of the county Working Families Party at the time of the primary, rounded out Monday’s testimony. Welch said that on the morning of the primary, John Brown called him to ask if he could put Welch’s name on the “release to” line on five absentee ballot applications. Welch said he didn’t understand what Brown meant, since he wasn’t familiar with the applications, but said that Brown assured him it was a good move because “it would look better” to have a WFP member’s name in that slot instead of a Democrat’s name.
He said he asked Brown if that was allowed, and when Brown assured him it was, he agreed. Brown pled guilty to a felony late last year and is looking at six months behind bars.
“It’s extremely troubling that local Democrats in Troy appear to have committed fraud in an attempt to win a primary fight with Troy Republicans for our ballot line.”
- RedState has demonstrated that the WFP was founded by key members of ACORN, and shares many of its political strategies.
- The WFP has listed ACORN as an affiliate program directly on their Web site.
- Roger Stone called the New York Working Families Party “one of ACORN’s most successful projects”.
- The New York Post analyzed the many shady dealings of the WFP, and its affiliation with ACORN.
- Scharff has been involved in health care meetings coordinated by her group, Citizen Action, and ACORN. A picture of one such event appears on the Times Union blog.
- Her name appears on a letter of support for ACORN, in which criticism of their work is labeled as ‘mainly partisan’ attacks.
- An article regarding the power of fusion politics, a tactic used by the WFP, shows Scharff’s activism in the election of Albany District Attorney, David Soares. The article covers the tandem work of the WFP and Citizen Action, along with the strong ties that the WFP has with ACORN. One key element here is the mention of Bertha Lewis who is described as ‘the executive director of ACORN’s New York City chapter’. Lewis also serves as co-chair for the WFP.
- Another article celebrating the Soares victory appears in the Nation, in which Scharff’s WFP work is mentioned alongside the work of Dan Cantor. Cantor also serves as Executive Director for the WFP, and was national organizer for the ‘New Party’ in the ‘90s, a socialist group with strong ties to ACORN. In fact, the New Ground described the New Party’s ‘biggest asset and biggest liability’ as ACORN.
- Scharff serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Working Families, alongside Jon Kest, Director of the New York Association of Community Organization for Reform Now.