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GOP Congresswoman Gets Sham Award From Big Pharma Front Organization

11:17 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

Nan Hayworth‘s office sent out a press release on Thursday that included a picture of the Congresswoman receiving an award beneath a sign saying, “Senior Citizens Thank You For Protecting Medicare and Social Security.” It appeared to be a perfect photo opportunity for Hayworth, being honored by a group known as the “60 Plus Association” for legislating in their best interests.

But there are two big problems with this picture. First, Nan Hayworth just voted to kill Medicare, if you’re one of the few that has forgotten. And second, the 60 Plus Association is not a senior citizen’s group at all, it’s just a front organization for the pharmaceutical industry. This is a crass attempt by Hayworth to once again deceive her constituents, particularly the elderly.

Back in 2003, the AARP Bulletin recognized 60 Plus as a front group for Big Pharma. The publication claimed that the organization wasn’t even receiving membership dues from seniors at the time and that “virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source—the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.

The Bulletin revealed that 60 Plus was well funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Citizens for Better Medicare, and four pharmaceutical companies, Hanwha International, Merck, Pfizer, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Currently, as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization may legally accept corporate donations, but is not required to disclose its funding sources, which it doesn’t.

60 Plus has also been a favorite cause in among Beltway conservatives. Lobbyist, Republican operative, and convicted felon Jack Abramoff once instructed an Indian tribe he represented to contribute to 60 Plus. Abramoff told the tribe that a donation would help it get support among GOP leadership for its legislative causes.

Since its inception, the 60 Plus Association has had the back of Big Pharma, helping the industry with mass mailings, press releases, and lobbying efforts. It was one of three industry-backed associations that backed the infamous “astroturf” issue ads of Citizens for Better Medicare (another drug industry front group) during the 2000 elections.

Also notable was 60 Plus’s support of lawsuit by PhRMA against the state of Maine, in their issuance of a “friend of the court” brief. PhRMA sued to stop the State from implementing Maine Rx, a law that reduces prices for Medicare drugs by enabling the state to offer discounted prescription drugs to the working poor and elderly through bulk purchases from manufacturers. The trial ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which eventually allowed Maine to implement the trail-blazing program.
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NY-19: Nan Hayworth notaries admit to misconduct

7:52 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

Nan Hayworth’s campaign manager, John Hicks, along with other campaign notaries, admitted to misconduct on the witness stand Wednesday in regards to the handling of Independence Party petitions. Hayworth, a retired Mt. Kisco physician, is one of two potential Republican opponents to Democratic Congressman John Hall (NY-19) in November.

Two days into a court review of the petitions, Hicks admitted that allegations brought forth by Congressman’s John Hall campaign were true, and that he didn’t uphold the law "in the traditional sense" when gathering signatures for the Independence Party line.

Third parties, such as the Independence Party, often use notaries to reduce errors and petition mishandling. Importantly, notaries must swear each person in before they sign a petition sheet. Hall’s campaign had alleged that Hayworth’s campaign notaries consistently perpetuated fraud when gathering signatures.

And while Hicks, along with two other notaries admitted to not following New York law, Hayworth’s campaign manager attempted to distance his personal petition practices from the campaign he manages. On the stand, Hicks denied coordinating the campaign’s petition process, first claiming he did not know who was responsible and later making the feeble claim that nobody had coordinated this extremely critical step in ballot access.

Previously, Nan Hayworth’s campaign had denied any wrongdoing in an email to Left of the Hudson:

The Hayworth campaign categorically and vehemently rejects the allegations that any campaign staffer, notary or others engaged in deliberate fraud regarding Independence Party petitions.

I’m wondering if Hayworth’s campaign is sticking to that claim, or if the message was a parsing of words. It seems that while they’re now admitting to mishandling the petitions, they’ve denied that they did so deliberately, thus absolving them, at least in their minds, from the taint of fraud.

Hall’s campaign responded to Hick’s admission:

“I’m glad that Mr. Hicks came clean that he never swore in signers, despite a clear legal requirement for him to do so. He’s an experienced attorney and this is not his first election. He should have known better than to break the law,” Hall campaign manager Patrick McGarrity said. “However, his efforts to deny that anyone in the Hayworth campaign coordinated their petition efforts is disingenuous at best. Somehow, a petition arrived at the New York State Board of Elections in Albany.”

One other Hayworth campaign worker, a notary, testified to not swearing in petition signers as required by law. Other Hayworth notaries defended their petition practices, even despite the insistence of signers who claim they were not sworn in.

One local politician, a Yorktown City Councilman, Vishnu Patel has admitted his involvement in the mishandling of petitions, claiming that he gathered a signature for his wife and then turning the page over to his wife to notarize. Councilman Patel is not a member of the Independence Party or a notary and cannot carry Independence Party petitions.

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.

Patel’s wife, Dipika, contradicted her husband during her testimony, claiming that she gathered more than 70 signatures herself. The Hall campaign, however, has collected multiple affidavits from petition signees regarding the Patels handling of petitions, which disputes the claims made by both. Hall’s campaign maintains that the Patels systemically committed fraud.

Hall’s campaign backs up their claim in a press release:

“It seems more than suspect that the only instance of fraud that Patel admitted to is the one that was extensively covered by News 12 in the days preceding his appearance in court,” Hall manager McGarrity said. “Patel went into the trial knowing specifically of one signature that we had evidence against. There is absolutely no credibility to his claim that this one ‘mistake’ is the limit to the fraud he perpetrated.”

New York Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch is working on the schedule for further court proceedings where Hall’s campaign intends to prove that these admitted instances of misconduct, as well as others, show a pattern notarial fraud significant enough to invalidate many of Hayworth’s Independence Party petitions.

Hayworth faces a September 14 primary against Neal Di Carlo, a Wall Street compliance officer. The winner of the Republican primary will face Hall in November. It’s unclear whether or not Hayworth would remain on the Conservative and Independence Party lines should Di Carlo, the underdog, win the primary. Di Carlo has backing from statewide Tea Party groups and is notably the more conservative of the two candidates. In contrast Hayworth’s pro choice viewponts. Di Carlo is against abortion.

NY-19: Hayworth’s Campaign Disputes Fraud Charges

4:42 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

[Ed. note: Be sure to read the first comment below with regard to any future communications by Hayworth's campaign.]

In the interest of equal time, representatives of Nan Hayworth’s congressional campaign have contacted me and asked if I would publish their response to civil charges being filed by John Hall’s campaign, which I posted here. The core of progressivism is fairness, so I have agreed to allow them to answer these allegations and I am inserting them below as they were sent to me. The statements for publication are in blockquotes below:

Statements from Nan Hayworth campaign for NY-19, 08-13-10
The Hayworth campaign categorically and vehemently rejects the allegations that any campaign staffer, notary or others engaged in deliberate fraud regarding Independence Party petitions. Further, the only result of this action, if the Hall campaign is successful, will be to disenfranchise Independence Party voters who wanted to see a candidate on their line. If Nan Hayworth is prevented from running on that line, as the Hall campaign seeks to do, no one will appear. The real issues in the 19th District are jobs, a broken economy and a federal government whose spending is out of control, about which John Hall says little.

Statement by Douglas Cunningham, communications director, Nan Hayworth campaign, regarding John Hall court action:
"The allegation that John Hicks is somehow involved in and directed fraud is beyond the pale. Anyone who knows John Hicks, and I’ve known him for years, knows it’s laughable. This is nothing but desperation politics on the part of the Hall campaign. I hope they have miscalculated the mood of the district as badly as they’ve miscalculated John Hicks’ character. His reputation is beyond reproach, and the district has had it with the results that John Hall and his Washington buddies are serving up. We need to talk about jobs, and it’s here that the record of John Hall and his Democratic friends in Congress is miserable. Come November, voters will choose his replacement."

Statement by Guy Parisi, noted elections lawyer, of Westchester County, who is representing Hayworth:
"This is typical Washington hypocrisy. He’s attempting to impugn John HIcks, who’s an upstanding member of the community who pays his taxes, unlike John Hall’s friend Charlie Rangel, about whom Mr. Hall has remained silent. John Hicks is a lawyer of more than 30 years with an unblemished record. I have personally known Mr. Hicks for 20 years and his honesty and integrity are above reproach. These allegations are totally without foundation."

Additional background:
On the Independence Party signatures, the Hayworth campaign needed 968. We submitted 1527. Of those, 246 were disallowed by the Board of Elections for a variety of strictly technical reasons: unclear date, village instead of town, and so on. NONE was rejected for fraud or any similar reason.
That leaves 313 more than needed.

The Hall campaign, however, is unwilling to accept that, and is making spurious accusations of fraud and forgery, ones that are completely without foundation. Because the Board of elections won’t take up such matters, those issues must be decided by a court.
The Hall campaign is entitled to take the matter to court, but it is certain to lose.

Actualities from either Cunningham or Parisi can be arranged.

NY-19: Hayworth’s Campaign to Answer Fraud Charges

4:24 am in Uncategorized by Cliff Weathers

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 in each person 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 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 Hayworth’s notaries consistently perpetrated 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 she was not identifiable by those that signed the petitions later. Multiple signers, in fact, claim that a solitary 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 wish for the candidate to be the party’s nominee, thus they are sworn in. Notaries who have violated this process are found to have committed fraud.

Hicks is a notary himself and his petitions among those alleged to contain fraud. Affidavits have been collected that specifically showing 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 practices 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 challenge 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 diary is crossposted at Left of the Hudson.