As bad as Arizona may be, there’s a reason that Philly still leads the nation in fraud in contested statewide elections. (I’m not going to bother mentioning New York or Los Angeles, where Karen Bass was predictably appointed mayor by way of a whole lot of late-arriving ballots for the second time.)
What’s remarkable is not that things like this happen in Philly, but how unremarkable they are.
Pennsylvania governor-elect Josh Shapiro, who rose to prominence by downplaying Republican claims of voter fraud, charged one of his former campaign consultants on Wednesday with “wide-scale” forgery of voter ballots.
Shapiro, in his capacity as Pennsylvania attorney general, alleges that Philadelphia political consultant Rasheen Crews duplicated more than 1,000 signatures on petitions to add his clients to Democratic primary ballots for Philadelphia city elections in 2019.“By soliciting and organizing the wide-scale forgery of signatures, the defendant undermined the democratic process and Philadelphians’ right to a free and fair election,” Shapiro said in a statement announcing the charges.
One person hired by Crews Consulting told investigators that Crews had instructed her to go to a hotel near the Philadelphia International Airport, where she and other workers wrote signatures based on names from “street lists” that Crews had provided.
Several other workers shared similar experiences, explaining that they had been told about opportunities to earn money — in at least one case, $10 an hour, prosecutors said.
A handwriting analysis of 2,596 signatures found that 1,194 had been photocopied, according to a criminal complaint. Additionally, multiple lines of signatures showed a strong probability that the petition pages had not been independently prepared, but were completed by “multiple groupings of common writers.”
A review of a business account tied to Crews Consulting found checks from clients totaling more than $12,000 in January and February 2019, investigators said. One of the candidates who hired Crews Consulting had agreed to pay a rate of $2 per signature.
In ’86, Councilman Lee Beloff, the son of a judge, was charged alongside his legislative aide, and mob boss “Little Nicky” Scarfo, with extorting $1 million and an apartment for his mistress.
Less glamorously, Beloff was also indicted, along with his wife and two Democratic committee members for ” conspiracy, voting more than once and giving false information on voter registrations to elderly people living in a nursing home.”
Beloff had previously received a gubernatorial pardon for interfering with a poll watcher so he could run for public office.
After serving 6 years of his 10 year sentence, Beloff got out and became a Democrat ward chairman.
“We stay loyal to our people,” a local Democratic ward leader said.
A photo last year from the Philly Public Record shows a meeting of the “combined 39th Ward Democratic organizations”.
One of the photos is titled, “A South Philly Classic” and features Lee Beloff and Ozzie Myers.
Ozzie Meyers, a former Democrat Congressman who had been convicted of bribery and conspiracy, and spent three years in prison in the Abscam scandal, was indicted again this year for “conspiring to violate voting rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in federal elections.”
What’s striking about these stories is the sheer level of chutzpah, the brazenness of the corruption in question. That’s a fundamental characteristic of the kind of hard-core corruption in the urban Dem political machine.