A Democratic candidate for mayor in upstate New York is in hot water after authorities arrested him for submitting fraudulent petitions that contained signatures witnessed by people described simply as “slim black woman,” “light skin lady,” and “black lady at the bus stop.”
Following the arrest, further allegations of a stolen election have sprung up between warring factions in the local Democratic party, creating a scene in which the party known for a similar scheme to steal ballot lines from their opponents a few years ago is now being accused of similar tactics against their own members.
Ernest Everett, who finished third in the recent Democrat primary behind Patrick Madden and Rodney Wiltshire, was arraigned in Troy City Court last week and charged with felony second-degree forgery and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.
Kevin McCashion, a political observer in Troy, filed a police report in early August regarding Everett’s petitions. He also posted numerous affidavits which were included in a package of objections to the petitions, seemingly designed to “prove” Everett was not involved with the questionable signatures.
The “affidavits of attestation” provide descriptions of people who witnessed signatures, many of which simply read “light skin” or “black lady,” generic terms which would be difficult to identify for validity purposes.
A spreadsheet provided by Wiltshire’s campaign shows that of 855 signatures filed by Everett, well over half were deemed objectionable. Of the issues listed: Numerous individuals signed multiple petitions, were not registered in the Democrat party, or were not residents of the city.
The criminal complaint filed by investigators over the signatures states that Everett attested to those signatures, despite the bogus affidavits. It reads in part, “Ernest E. Everett did sign these petition sheets while knowing they contained signatures that were not subscribed in his presence and did so with the intent to defraud the Rensselaer County Board of Elections.”
In July, representatives for Wiltshire attempted to have Everett’s petitions ruled invalid, but Democratic Commissioner Edward McDonough at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections declined to second a motion by a Republican commissioner to accept the objections. As a result, the questionable signatures were ruled valid.
McDonough himself was previously involved in a ballot fraud trial, but was later acquitted after a colleague altered his testimony so egregiously that the judge struck everything he said from the record.
Wiltshire said he couldn’t understand why somebody like McDonough would allow Everett’s petitions to be ruled valid.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that someone who was so involved in a previous fraud trial would be again involved in new election fraud activity,” he said of McDonough.
Wiltshire, who is considered an outsider as a Democrat, eventually lost to the establishment candidate in Madden by a total of 45 votes. He referred to Madden and Everett as a combined “machine” who both ran against him in the primary.
The outsider also made allegations that Everett’s campaign and subsequent allegedly forged petitions were part of a plot from higher up to defeat him. Appearing on the Franco and Friends show on Talk 1300, Wiltshire criticized backers of Madden for orchestrating the plot, using Everett as a puppet to siphon off votes.
“It’s a real shame that these guys that are in control and power find somebody and use them,” he lamented. “It’s clear as day what’s going on.”
When pressed further by host Jim Franco on whether or not the “guys in control” he was referring to were Madden and the man who backed his candidacy, Rensselaer County Democratic Chairman Tom Wade, Wiltshire connected the dots.
“That’s the only clear assumption that can be made,” he said.
Several factors seemingly back Wiltshire’s assertion.
The Times Union’s Chris Churchill reported that “Everett often attacked Wiltshire during the campaign, but rarely mentioned Madden.”
Churchill also reiterated another incident reported on by the Troy Record weeks ago. In a rather peculiar move, Everett paid a visit to the site where Madden supporters were awaiting results on election night, and was summarily “met with cheers” because it was widely believed that he “took votes away from Rodney’s (Wiltshire) campaign.”
Ernest Everett walked into Ryan’s Wake to cheers from Madden’s camp. #troyny
— Molly Eadie (@mollyeadie) September 11, 2015
Perhaps most damning in regards to the relationship between Everett, Wade, and Madden, are initial petitions that include an entry to provide a “committee to fill vacancies.” Everett’s petition includes Wade as a member of the committee, which would form to select a replacement candidate should the original designee fall ill or need to drop out.
Further, all three members chosen by Everett for the committee exactly match those chosen by the eventual primary winner in Madden.
Wade claimed that “I had no knowledge of it (the selections for committee),” but a July article in the Troy Record shows otherwise, as Everett confessed to seeking advice from party leaders as to who he should name to the committee.
“I reached out to them and they said no problem at all,” Everett claimed. “In case something were to happen, I would want to make sure the Democratic Party would be able to reap any benefits.”
“That’s a clear connection there, and control at some level of the candidate,” Wiltshire claimed.
Control of a candidate now charged with forging petitions which allowed him to get on the ballot. And an opportunity to create and effect a three person race in a primary decided by a mere 45 votes.
When asked whether he thought the top Democrats had pressured Everett to obtain fraudulent signatures, Wiltshire said “It would only make sense.”
This from a party who in recent history was caught up in a voter fraud scandal that saw four members receiving punishments ranging from hundreds of hours of community service, to jail time.
A Democrat committeeman at that time claimed that voter fraud was “a normal political tactic.”
Perhaps it still is. Now however, it seems rather ironic that instead of using fraudulent tactics against their opponents, Democrats have begun using them on each other.
Rusty Weiss is a long-time political analyst and editor of the New York political blog, The Mental Recession. His work has appeared at The Daily Caller, FreedomWorks and Fox News. He currently writes for The Political Insider and Headline Politics.