Golden will refer potential fraud and forgeries to the Monmouth County Prosecutor
Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon ruled yesterday that the Freeholder slates endorsed by the Monmouth County Republican Organization and those submitted by the Ciattarelli for Governor campaign both had enough qualifying signatures on their nominating petitions to appear on the ballot for the June 6 primary. Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Holmdel Deputy Mayor Pat Impreveduto will be challenged by Dr. Bernard Dowd, a veterinarian from Oceanport and Susan Ellen Metz of Middletown.
GOP Chairman Shaun Golden challenged the Ciattarelli slate based upon the apparent irregularities in the petitions submitted. Golden wrote that several signatures appear to be in the same handwriting for multiple people, several signers are not registered to vote and/or are registered Democrats. Additionally, Golden submitted a sworn affidavit from Lois Pongo of Highlands stating that her signature that appeared on a petition for Metz was collected by a male canvasser who told her he was collecting signatures for Freeholder Gary Rich. Pongo’s signature was certified in a sworn affidavit by Brittany Wheeler, Political Director of the Ciattarelli campaign.
Golden was right about the irregular signatures. Hanlon rejected over half of the 245 signatures submitted by the Ciattarelli team. The individual petitions submitted by Dowd and Metz were rejected in their entirety. A joint petition with 156 signers included 20 signatures that did not match voting records and 14 signatures that were either duplicates or were from people who were registered Democrats or not registered to vote at all. A total of 45 of the signatures submitted by the Ciattarelli team on their three petitions did not match the signatures on file in the Statewide Voter Registration System, Hanlon wrote in her letter to Golden which can be found here.
With 122 valid signatures, Hanlon ruled that Dowd and Metz would appear on the primary ballot.
Golden condemned the apparent dishonesty of the Ciattarelli team and said he would refer the apparently forged signatures and the false swearing to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
“These two candidates, who are clearly pawns of the Citarelli campaign, should be ashamed of themselves for trying to manipulate the system,” Golden said. “It is appalling that a quarter of the signatures submitted by these candidates do not match the voter file–which makes these petitions and the candidates suspect.”
“This begs the questions: Who signed for these voters?” Golden continued, “Did fraud occur? Were there forgeries? In order to protect the integrity of our election process, which is the sworn duty of every Party Chairman, I have no choice but to refer this matter to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office for a thorough investigation and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law, if warranted.”
“Monmouth County is not a place that condones these types of shenanigans. “I call on Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli to denounce this improper behavior and to purge the bad actors from his gubernatorial campaign.
“Bernard Dowd swore an affidavit certifying 14 signatures that are questionable. Dowd should explain these irregularities or withdraw his candidacy for freeholder before the ballot draw on Monday.”
Brittany Wheeler challenged the petitions of Burry and Impreveduto on the grounds that she saw than four people circulating petitions at the Monmouth County GOP nominating convention and only four people certified the Burry and Impreveduto petitions. Additionally, Wheeler objected to two pages of signatures (19 signatures) that were not attached to a certification, 4 signatures that she said were not registered voters and 2 signatures that did not match the voter records.
Hanlon threw out the 19 signatures that were not certified and found that the 6 specific signatures Wheeler challenged were valid, after examining the voter records. Hanlon rejected the challenge that there were more than four people circulating petitions at the convention because Wheeler presented no evidence and because there were circulators collecting signatures for offices other than freeholder at the convention.
Hanlon’s response to Wheeler can be found here.