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posted this in Government, Hudson Valley, Politics on August 13th, 2010

Nan Hayworth’s campaign to answer fraud charges

This article was first posted at Left of the Hudson: Progressive News and Views for Rockland County by [author-name].

Hayworth campaign manager John Hicks (left).

Explosive news comes out of New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, where the campaign of a GOP congressional candidate hoping to face Rep. John Hall in November is tainted with allegations of fraud.

Republican candidate Nan Hayworth‘s campaign manager, John Hicks, will soon appear in New York Supreme Court on charges that notaries used by the campaign engaged in a petition campaign drenched with fraud. Hicks, along with 10 other of Hayworth’s notary publics, are currently being served subpoenas.

Hicks, the manager of the GOP hopeful in New York’s 19th Congressional District, is scheduled to appear in court on September 25. At question are petitions carried by Hayworth’s notaries for the Independence Party, a minor New York party. Petitions must either be carried by members of the party or by notaries, public servants appointed by state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. Typically, notaries are used for signature gathering because of a scarcity of party members willing to carry petition sheets.

Petitioning is often problematic, even when carried out for major parties. But using notaries for minor, or fusion, parties is meant to reduce errors and petition mishandling. Importantly, notaries must swear each person in before they sign a petition sheet. So, problems like repeated names or dubious identifying information on petition sheets are quite rare and often easily spotted as deception.

Hayworth’s Independence Party petition seems to have had obvious problems, with more than 250 signatures being thrown out at the Board of Elections, but the charges brought to the court seek to demonstrate her notaries consistently perpetuated fraud when gathering signatures.

For example, one allegation submitted to the court tells of a notary who signed her name at the bottom of petition pages, but wasn’t identifiable by those that signed the petitions later. Multiple signers, in fact, claim that a single male collected their signatures instead. If this notary had not been present when the signatures were collected, fraud was committed.

The notary section on a petition page is a written legal declaration. The document must not only attest to the identity of those signing it, but the identity of the person carrying the petition. It is also required that notaries not just identify petition signers, but witness that signers, in fact, wish for the candidate to be the party’s nominee, thus they must swear in petition signers. Notaries who violate this process are found to have committed fraud.

Hicks is a notary himself and his petitions are among those alleged to contain fraud. Affidavits have been collected that specifically show wrongdoing by him.

Staff for Hall, the Democratic incumbent from the 19th Congressional District, discovered the alleged fraud and they released a press release this morning:

“These charges are very serious. The Hayworth Campaign has systemically committed fraud during their Independence Party petition process,” Said John Hall Campaign Manager Patrick McGarrity. “What is even worse than Hayworth notaries committing fraud is their Campaign Manager training them to do so. This devious attempt to fraudulently obtain the Independence Party ballot line is both morally reprehensible and illegal.”

“A State licensed notary committing fraud is a betrayal of the public trust,” said Attorney Josh Ehrlich, who represents the Plaintiffs as well as the John Hall for Congress Campaign. “John Hicks is an experienced Attorney and Political Operative who thoroughly understands the petition process. It’s a shame he is using that knowledge and experience to commit fraud rather than run a clean campaign.”

According to New York State Law, a notary public who is proven to engage in fraud by issuing a document knowing that it contains a false statement or false information is guilty of a Class E Felony and may be imprisoned up to 4 years.

Hayworth, a retired Mt. Kisco physician with no previous political experience, still faces a primary against Wall Street compliance officer Neal Di Carlo. In a twist of irony, Hayworth had implied Di Carlo’s campaign mishandled petitions. On a July 27 posting on her Facebook page, Hayworth responded to a query on her campaign’s attempt to challenge Di Carlo’s petitions and disqualify him from a September 14 primary:

…our volunteers followed the rules, and it’s fair to ask that everyone follow those rules.

Hayworth remains on the Independence line.

This blog is crossposted here, here, here, and here.

See Nan Hayworth Watch for related articles.

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