The Brooklyn district attorney is investigating allegations of forgeries and favoritism in the borough’s Democratic Party first reported by THE CITY.
In a series published last year, THE CITY identified multiple forged documents filed with the city Board of Elections, tied to a party executive. The paperwork included signatures purporting to be from five individuals who said they had no idea their names were involved.
The DA is also investigating separate claims from a Brooklynite, who alleged that establishment-backed party leaders conditioned paid poll work opportunities on campaign volunteering or political loyalty.
The investigation is an escalation of the “review” the office announced after the first articles were published and puts DA Eric Gonzalez in the unusual position of formally investigating ranking officials of his own party’s county organization. Nobody has been charged with wrongdoing in connection with the investigations, which are ongoing.
Oren Yaniv, a spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, declined to answer questions about the substance of the probe.
“All of these matters are under an ongoing investigation,” said Yaniv.
Civic watchdogs welcomed the development. “It’s good news that the DA’s office is seriously investigating this. We hope that they take this to the full conclusion and recommend appropriate charges, if there are any,” said Rachael Fauss, a senior research analyst with Reinvent Albany, one of six good-government groups that called for an investigation in the wake of THE CITY’s reporting. “It’s important for public confidence that everybody is held accountable, including the party leaders.”
Edward Alston McDuffie is a Brownsville resident who’s not involved in the political scene. Someone signed his name to petitions that sought to put one party-insider candidate on the ballot and remove someone else. He told THE CITY last spring that the signatures were definitely not his.
McDuffie said he met with investigators from the DA’s office earlier this month. “They asked me, ‘Have I ever given anyone rights to use my signature?’” he recalled. “I said, ‘Why would I do that?’”
Anthony Jones, a leader of the Community 1st Democratic Club in Brownsville, had acknowledged to THE CITY that McDuffie’s and other forged signatures appeared on nominating petitions generated by people from his club.
McDuffie said the interviewer asked him about an “Anthony.”
“They said, ‘If they bring the people to justice, am I willing to testify?” McDuffie said. “They said it’s in the investigation stages and they’ll keep in touch. If it goes to court and everything, then they’ll ask me. I might have to take the stand.”
Blocked From Poll Work
Charlene Davis, a Coney Island resident, told THE CITY she was interviewed by Brooklyn prosecutors at their office on Jay Street in November, and asked whether she had to gather signatures for petitions topped with the names of two establishment-backed party executives, Dionne Brown Jordan and Michael Silverman, in order to get poll work.
“They were interested in the green sheets that got filled out and people being told that if they didn’t help to get names on the green sheet that they wouldn’t be given jobs and stuff,” said Davis.
Davis, a 64-year-old who relies on a wheelchair and oxygen tank, says she told investigators that she refused to gather petition signatures in order to get poll work.
Davis had earlier claimed that she was blocked by Brown Jordan from the potentially lucrative poll worker gig after Davis spoke to THE CITY about party favoritism. The Board of Elections confirmed that it was Brown Jordan who requested that Davis be marked “temporarily inactive” on the BOE’s roster of poll workers.
Brown Jordan vehemently denied cutting off Davis from poll work.
During a phone call with THE CITY, Brown Jordan accused Davis of spewing falsehoods. “I refuse to be bothered with this foolishness again, okay?” she said.
Brown Jordan has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Silverman did not respond to a voicemail or text message seeking comment.