A never-Trump Republican in New York can be seen allegedly illegally forging petition signatures in a parking lot in his effort to challenge New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, a video obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller shows.
Lonny Koons, who is trying to primary Stefanik in NY21, can be seen in his car in videos that were taken at the Ticonderoga Walmart Parking lot on March 24. The day the two videos were filmed he said on social media that he was in Ticonderoga and “obtained a healthy number of petition signatures.” However, the signatures appeared to have been faked and signed by Koons himself.
In the videos, posted on YouTube by an anonymous account called “North Country Watch,” Koons can be seen signing a number of signatures and names on a document in the parking lot, on the same day he said he was collecting signatures in Ticonderoga. The petition filing period starts April 4. Republicans need a minimum of 1,250 signatures to appear on the ballot.
On March 12th, Koons posted a letter on Facebook that he sent to the Working Families Party of New York. In the letter, he states that he is “primarying Ms. Elise Stefanik for the republican nomination” and goes on to ask why the Working Families Party is representing him as a supporter of former President Donald Trump.
The Daily Caller spoke to state officials who said they were shocked by the videos and said Koons was committing a felony.
Dutchess County Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight told the Caller, “I watched the video several times. Honestly, in disbelief. It’s shockingly brazen. It’s such a violation of the public’s trust to be forging voter’s signatures on an official document that eventually is going to be filed with the government entity, the State Board of Elections. And he’s perpetrating a fraud on the electoral system. Frankly, if this candidate files those petitions, he should be prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law and it is a felony, and every time he affixes someone else’s signature to his petition.”
“It’s a crime,” said Haight. “And frankly, if he does file these fraudulent petitions, he’s playing with fire and people have been imprisoned for that crime,” Haight continued.
Haight also serves as the Chairman of the Republican Commissioners Caucus of the Elections Commissioners Association.
“Well, again, having watched that video several times. You know, because I don’t accuse people of crimes lightly. And if I wasn’t certain that he was committing a felony by forging those peoples signatures, I wouldn’t say it. The video speaks for itself. It is shockingly obvious that he’s forging their signatures. To deny it is to deny a fact,” Haight added.
WATCH THE VIDEOS HERE:
“It’s safe to expect that these petitions will be reviewed carefully and checked directly with the so-called signers to confirm the validity of their signatures. Lawsuits will be filed to invalidate any petition found to be permeated with fraudulent signatures,” Joseph T. Burns, a former State Board of Elections official and attorney who has represented Republican candidates throughout New York State told the Daily Caller. Burns went on to state, “Petition fraud is an attack on the electoral process and, frankly, New York Republicans will not tolerate it.”
Rachel Bledi, the Republican Elections Commissioner for Albany, explained some of the potential crimes he may have committed and strongly advised he does not file the fraudulent signatures, saying he faces serious legal trouble.
“I say it’s problematic for the candidate if it’s true. I’d say that he’d have two main legal challenges that he would face, right? One is that he will fail to qualify as a candidate for the ballot, potentially, and the second is that he risks being prosecuted under criminal statutes. So you have this intersection between penal code and election law where they come into play,” Bledi told the Daily Caller.
“If he forged signatures, then he should strongly consider terminating his campaign for Congress, not moving forward with filing what could potentially be a false instrument. So that he doesn’t have to face legal consequences for doing something like that,” Bledi added.
Stefanik’s campaign slammed Koons’ actions saying he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and called his actions “a serious crime.”
“Any candidate filing for federal elected office should be held to the highest standards of election integrity. There is no more egregious act breaking the sacred trust with voters than illegally forging signatures to qualify as a candidate for office. It is an affront to the thousands of local volunteers and hardworking staff who over the years have carried Congresswoman Stefanik’s petitions in the freezing cold, hail, sleet, rain, and snow storms in the North Country to ensure we exceed the signature requirement. It explicitly disenfranchises voters in our district of their constitutional rights,” Stefanik’s campaign told the Daily Caller.
“This is a serious crime and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We must stand up for election integrity and security in our country,” her campaign added. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Historic Year For Republicans’ — A Look Inside House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s Efforts To Win Back The Majority)
The Daily Caller contacted Koons about the videos and the signatures to which he responded by saying, “I have been preparing a press release of my own to announce that I am suspending my campaign due to a lack of funds and that I cannot afford to stay afloat because I have been on disability for 6 plus weeks at half my pay.”
“I will reevaluate a future run but currently I cannot afford to stay in this race and need to get back to work as am by definition, blue collar. As for Ticonderoga Walmart; I was indeed in my car filling out paperwork; some in regards to my campaign and some in regards to the disability issues I have been dealing with MetLife and the Hartford improperly paying my disability due to rotate cuff / bicep surgery. I had received a very good reception in Ticonderoga and had spoken to quite a few local businesses that support the idea of an average American trying to stand up,” Koons added.