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Good-Government Groups Ask DA To Launch New Probe Into Brooklyn Democratic Party

Six leading watchdog organizations urge investigation into forgeries and potential fraud tied to ballot petitions.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez holds a press conference in 2019.

Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

A coalition of government watchdog groups is calling on Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to investigate a rash of forgeries identified by THE CITY in ballot challenges linked to the Brooklyn Democratic Party establishment. 

In a letter sent to Gonzalez Wednesday, six organizations, including Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union, and Common Cause/NY, asked Brooklyn’s top prosecutor to review “what seem to be well-founded accusations that false filings were made to object to county committee petitions.”

The call comes after five Brooklyn residents told THE CITY that forged versions of their signatures appeared on Board of Elections objection documents linked to Democratic Party officials seeking to knock off primary rivals at odds with the county establishment. All five residents, identified in a series of articles this spring, live in and around Brownsville and East New York. 

In response to the revelations, Anthony Jones, a Brownsville district leader allied with Brooklyn party boss Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, confirmed in April that the forgeries came from people in his political club. 

Jones blamed outside infiltrators for the potentially criminal conduct. “What we do know is that we feel like we were set up,” Jones said at the time.

Previously, Gonzalez’s office said that it was reviewing another issue, flagged by THE CITY and the Daily News: the inclusion of people on candidate ballot petitions and into low-level Democratic party seats without their knowledge of consent.

“Any fraudulent activity around petition objections creates voter cynicism about elections,” said Rachael Fauss, senior research analyst at Reinvent Albany. “And a serious investigation by the DA will help restore public confidence.”

The alleged fraud and forgeries were moves that would have served to boost the current leadership’s control of the party during a time of intense intra-party fighting against a group of insurgents.

“We continue to look into all allegations and claims reported to our office,” a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office confirmed.

The Brooklyn Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment.

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