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CHALLENGE TO S.

KATHRYN ALLEN NOMINATING PETITIONS

On behalf of the Elissa 2018 campaign, I, Elissa Silverman, a qualified elector residing at 692
4th Street NE, Washington, DC, 20002, submit the following challenge to the nominating
petitions of S. Kathryn Allen. Allen’s campaign as an independent candidate for an at-large seat
on the D.C. Council is co-chaired by Anthony A. Williams and David Catania, and her campaign
treasurer is Kim Alfonso.

Our campaign’s thorough review of Allen’s nominating petitions indicates that the number of
valid signatures submitted by Allen to the D.C. Board of Elections falls well below the minimum
3,000 required for ballot access. ​Although Allen submitted 6,075 names, addresses, and
signatures, we determine that 3,906 should not be counted as valid according to the nine
defects outlined in 3 DCMR § 1607.1. ​Subtracting the invalid signatures leaves Allen with
2,169 valid signatures, well short of the 3,000 required threshold for an independent D.C.
Council candidate and thus rendering Allen ineligible for ballot access.

Attached is a listing of the defects causing signatures to be invalid by line and page for the 336
nominating petition sheets, as required by 3 DCMR § 1606.2. Here is a short summary of the
defects and how many signatures were invalidated in each category:

Signer not registered to vote at 1,140


address listed on petition [1607.1(b)]

Signature is a duplicate [1607.1(c)] 54

Signature is not dated [1607.1(d)] 3

Signature does not include address of signer 21


[1607.1(e)]

Name of signer is illegible [1607.1(f)] 89

Circulator of petition sheet was not qualified 872


when petition sheet was signed [1607.1(g)]

Signature is not made by the person whose 1,727


signature it purports to be [1607.1(i)]

In regard to the last two categories, according to 3 DCMR § 410.3, a challenge to a nominating
petition may contain “[a] clear and concise statement of any other facts which are alleged to
constitute a petition defect.” Our examination found that the Allen campaign did not wholly
comply with 3 DCMR § 1604.1, which requires out-of-town circulators to complete a registration
at the Board of Elections making them qualified to collect signatures. ​This is important
because the nominating process is designed to reflect a certain level of local, grassroots
support for candidates. While regulations changed in recent years to allow
non-D.C.-resident circulators, the registration process makes any undue influence by
out-of-town or special interests transparent to voters. Several Allen circulators who were
not D.C. residents either did not fill out the required registration or did not fill out the
required registration at the time of signature collection. ​These two versions of this defect
invalidate entire sheets that were initially submitted by the campaign as bona fide.

More troubling, there appears to be widespread and intentional signature fraud among
some Allen circulators. ​A pattern emerged among two circulators of having the same names
and addresses listed on their sheets, some even dated the same day. Sheet 18 of 37 and Sheet
72 of 299 contain 10 identical or similar names and addresses, though the signatures appear
different. One of those voters is Mary Lord, who signed an affidavit saying the signature on
Sheet 18 of 37 is not hers. Lord’s name also appears with two different addresses. Cases of
signature forgery, identified by voters who examined the signature accompanying their names
and addresses and signed affidavits stating the signatures in question were not theirs, include
sheets signed by a circulator who is known to be Allen’s campaign manager.

Our examination found clear and convincing evidence of signature forgery among at
least four Allen petition circulators.​ In the cases of three circulators, sheets were replete with
forgeries, leading us to conclude the circulators likely forged every signature they claimed to
witness. The method to determine this defect was threefold: (1) our campaign conducted a
visual inspection of sheets to identify patterns of similar handwriting and other irregularities; (2)
volunteers with our campaign compared signatures on petition sheets with signatures on file at
the Board of Elections, and (3) a sample of voters were contacted to determine whether the
signature on the petition sheet was his or her own. In these cases, a photo of the petition sheet
or sheets in question was sent to the voter. He or she then reviewed the signature on the Allen
petition(s). If the voter declared the signature(s) not to be his or her own, then our campaign
asked that the voter review a copy of the petition sheet(s) in person and sign an affidavit in the
presence of a notary attesting that the signature(s) were not his or her own.

Attached are signed affidavits from the following qualified electors stating the signature
appearing on the Allen petition sheet(s) were not his or her own, accompanied by copies of the
Allen petition sheets upon which his or her name appears:
● Rebecca Barson
● Judy Berman
● Michele Blackwell
● Chuck Burger
● John Capozzi
● Dyana Forester
● Elinor Hart
● David Jannarone
● Mary Lord
● Rashid Mathus
● Andrea Rosen
● Sam Rosen-Amy
● Steve Seuser
Many of these voters were victims of signature forgery multiple times.

Additional voters were contacted, confirmed his or her signature was not their own, but could
not complete notarized affidavits because they were out-of-town during the challenge period.
These voters include Kevin Clinton, Eric Goulet, ANC Commissioner Robin Diener, Cinque
Culver, Peyton Sherwood, and Bryan Weaver, who emailed that he could not have signed
Sheet 290 of 299, Line 18 on 7/21/18 because he was in Guatemala on that date. Laura
Zeilinger, who serves as D.C. Director of the Department of Human Services, was contacted by
me as well as reporter Jeff Anderson regarding her name, address, and signature on Sheet 11
of 37, Line 5, dated 8/5/18. In an article that appeared in the online publication District Dig,
Zeilinger was quoted as saying that the signature she reviewed “is not [her] own.”

Due to the time constraints of the challenge process and the hours of availability of Board of
Elections facilities for reviewing signature files, we were unable to make a side-by-side
comparison of every signature suspected to be fraudulent. In the cases of three circulators
outlined below, sheets replete with forgeries led us to believe that every signature the circulator
claimed to witness and in which they signed as circulator was a forgery. In the case of the fourth
circulator, a determination of forgery was only on certain sheets. ​Yet we assert the Board
should invalidate the sheets of all circulators which have clear evidence of signature
fraud because it is a violation of the circulator affidavit and calls into question the
integrity of the circulator’s signature gathering process. At a minimum, all signatures on
petition sheets should be checked for handwriting verification against the signatures on
file with the Board of Elections.

The most well-known case of signature fraud in the D.C. nominating petition process in recent
memory is detailed in the case files of Brizill v. Williams. In administrative and court documents,
there is discussion of whether the evidence of pervasive signature fraud on sheets signed by a
circulator should invalidate the work of a circulator. In the end, the Board ruled it did, and the
courts upheld the Board’s decision. One case cited is Weisberger v. Cohen, in which a New
York court held “[t]he surest way to keep [the petitions] free from fraud is to let it be known that
any taint of fraud will wholly invalidate them.”

The circulator’s role in gathering signatures for a candidate is critical to ensuring the integrity of
the nominating and ballot access process. D.C. Code § 1-1001.08(b)(3) requires that all
signatures on a nominating petition “shall be made by the person whose signature it purports to
be and not by another person.” Each petition sheet contains a circulator affidavit signed under
penalty of perjury. Circulators swear or affirm that they personally circulated the petition,
witnessed each person sign the petition, and inquired from signers whether they are registered
voters. This is in contrast to its process with initiative and referendum petitions, in which the
Board of Elections validates each signature submitted. For candidates for elected office, the
Board of Elections does not proactively check the validity of signatures on candidate nominating
petitions. Instead, the Board relies on the truthfulness of the circulator affidavit, and in effect, the
circulator functionally performs the role as the Board itself in verifying signatures since any
submitted signature is considered bona fide. Circulators are responsible for seeing to it that
signatures are gathered in a manner free from fraud or undue influence of special interests.

When signature fraud is identified, the misconduct of the circulator casts doubt on the entire
signature gathering process and corrupts the signature threshold to get on the ballot. By signing
the affidavit, circulators swear to assist the Board of Elections in ensuring that only rightful
candidates -- those who have a true demonstration of public support -- attain ballot access.
When nominating petition sheets are strongly tainted as a result of circulator impropriety, the
Board should not give the circulator any benefit of doubt and rule the entire sheet invalid so
candidates cannot gain ballot access. A candidate should not benefit from petitions with
fraudulent circulator verification.

Each of these circulators had defects of 1607.1(i) that we assert render their entire petitions
invalid.

Circulator: Leonard Howard, Jr.


Howard circulated 47 sheets, comprising 907 signatures. The sheets contain rampant signature
fraud. ​Ten D.C. voters have signed affidavits attesting that the signature accompanying
their name and address on sheets circulated by Howard are not their own.​ In fact, it was
the appearance on a sheet circulated by Howard of ​Sam Rosen-Amy​, who serves as
Legislative Director in my Council office, and D.C. statehood activist ​John Capozzi​ in sequential
order on two separate Howard sheets (Sheet 3 of 37, Lines 6&7; Sheet 13 of 37, Lines 19&20)
that raised suspicions of possible signature fraud. ​Dyana Forester​, political director of United
Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 and a former ANC commissioner, also signed an
affidavit swearing and affirming that her name, appearing twice on petitions sheets dated 8/7/18
(Sheet 2 of 37, Line 15 and Sheet 13 of 37, Line 14), was not written or signed by her. Other
D.C. voters who appear on multiple sheets circulated by Howard include ​Kevin Clinton​, who is
Chief Operating Officer at the Federal City Council ( Sheet 12 of 37, Line 15; Sheet 14 of 37,
Line 8 both dated 8/7/18) and ​Marvin Bowser​, brother of Mayor Muriel Bowser, (Sheet 7 of 37,
Line 2; Sheet 12 of 37 Line 3, both dated 8/7/18). Mr. Bowser’s first name was misspelled as
“Marin” on one of the sheets.

Circulator: Tameka Lewter/Lewis


Lewter circulated 14 sheets, comprising 280 signatures. Lewter sometimes spells her name as
Lewis in the circulator affidavit. Our examination determined a pattern of duplicate names
between Lewter/Lewis and Howard sheets. ​Michele Blackwell​, who serves as chief of staff in
my Council office, and Judith Berman both swore in affidavits neither the signature on Howard
nor Lewter/Lewis’s sheets were their own. Two other D.C. voters have also signed sworn
affidavits stating that signatures purporting to be theirs on sheets circulated by Lewter/lewis
were not in fact theirs. ​Arthur Espinoza​, former Director of the D.C. Commission on Arts and
Humanities, appears on sheets circulated by Howard and Lewter/Lewis. Another signature for
an Arthur Espinoza at the same address appeared on Sheet 141 of 299, Line 9 by a third
circulator, Kevin Parker. The name, address, and a signature for ​Anthony A. Williams ​also
appears on Sheet 68 of 299, Line 2.

Circulator: Dashawnda Harris


Harris signed as circulator for three sheets, with a total of 60 signatures. All three of Harris’
sheets display identical block letter handwriting for all 20 rows, which we identify as defect
1607.1 (i). We ask the Board to rule all 60 signatures invalid.

Circulator: Kevin Parker


Parker circulated 27 sheets, totalling 442 signatures. Parker has been identified as Allen’s
campaign manager, who likely had the responsibility of supervising the nominating petition
process. Petition defects were identified in Parker’s sheets, including cases of 3 DCMR §
1607.1 (i), but not to the degree of the three circulators detailed above. However, two D.C.
voters, ​Rashid Mathus ​and ​Mary Lord​, have attested in affidavits that signatures purporting to
have been made by them on sheets circulated by Parker were not their own.

As campaign manager, Parker was entrusted twice with the integrity of the nomination petition
signature collection process. As a signed circulator, he swore or affirmed that he personally
witnessed the signing of each signature. Documented evidence of defects of 3 DCMR §
1607.1(i) in Parker’s sheets call into question his signature gathering process and the veracity of
his affidavit. As well, as campaign manager it is likely Parker was tasked with reviewing the work
of circulators to make sure there was no pattern of irregularities. Given clear patterns of
irregularities and defects including forged signatures, there is a question whether there might
have been an intentional effort to circumvent Board of Elections regulations to meet the
signature threshold.

It was the identification of signature fraud in another at-large campaign, and that candidate’s
decision not to turn in signatures due to widespread irregularities that raised initial questions for
our campaign whether signature fraud might be an issue in Allen’s campaign as well. As
detailed in the District Dig article “Over Circulated,” Traci Hughes contracted with the firm
Strategies for Change Group LLC to collect signatures for her at-large campaign. Strategies for
Change operates out of the Uline Arena at 1140 3rd Street NE, in the same co-working space
as the Elissa 2018 campaign. On the evening of 7/29/18 at the Uline Arena, staff of our
campaign spoke to people who said they were circulating petitions for the Allen campaign and
had come to the location to turn in their signatures. I then spoke personally with Khalil
Thompson, who is the head of Strategies for Change. Thompson said he ran a political
consulting business and was contracted to collect signatures for the Hughes campaign. He said
a “partner” was working for Allen.

According to campaign finance expenditures, Strategies for Change is a contractor for other
at-large candidates who have submitted nominating petitions. I request that given the
allegations of signature fraud associated with work completed by Strategies for Change, the
Board proactively examine all signatures that might have been submitted by circulators who
worked for that contractor and associated candidates.

Another significant defect among Allen circulators is that they were not qualified petition
circulators at the time the petitions were signed. These sheets for these circulators should also
be disqualified due to this defect [1607.1(g)].

Circulator: David Office


Office did not complete the non-resident petition circulator registration form despite listing a
Decatur, GA, address on petition sheets he circulated. Office signed the circulator affidavit for
32 sheets, which comprised 640 signatures. Due to the defect of 1607.1(g), we assert all 640
signatures are invalid.

Circulator: Chelsea Okoroh


Okoroh did not complete the non-resident petition circulator registration form despite listing a
Glenarden, MD, address on petition sheets she circulated. She completed one sheet,
comprising 20 signatures. We assert all 20 signatures are invalid.

Circulator: Antoine Prince Albert


Albert, who listed his address as South Arlington, VA, completed 17 petition sheets before filling
out the non-resident circulator registration form on 8/3/18. Mr. Albert began circulating petition
sheets as early as 6/20/18, as seen on Sheet 226 of 299, Line 13. These 17 sheets and 212
signatures should be ruled invalid, and we have challenged each sheet under defect 1607.1(g)
in our line-by-line challenge.

The nominating petition process is designed so that a candidate for elected office needs to
demonstrate a significant level of support from registered voters to appear on the ballot. As
noted above, given the Board accepts signatures as bona fide, nominating petition circulators
play a critical role in ensuring the integrity of signature collection and the democratic process of
gaining ballot access. The defects of Allen nominating circulators is not isolated to one rogue
circulator. Indeed, as noted above, Allen’s own campaign manager circulated, certified, and
submitted petition sheets that have documented signature forgery. The amount of defects goes
beyond simply being sloppy. Instead it suggests there might have been an intentional effort to
use known invalid signatures to meet the threshold. That is a deception to D.C. voters. For
these reasons as well as the line-by-line challenge, we ask the Board to deny Allen access to
the ballot.