Albany County District Attorney David Soares and the state Board of Elections are moving forward with an investigation into alleged elections fraud involving the effort to get Republican nominee for governor Rep. Lee Zeldin on a third-party line on ballots for the Nov. 8 general election against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
At the center of the probe is ex-con John Haggerty Jr. — who went to jail for ripping off former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign. Haggerty was reportedly the key player in the effort to secure the Independence Party line for Zeldin, a Long Island congressman.
Haggerty is alleged to have used 11,000 photocopied signatures to meet the 45,000-name threshold to get Zeldin the additional party line, the Times Union revealed Sunday.
“Nothing could’ve gone out the door without his knowledge,” an anonymous GOP source told the upstate newspaper.
Zeldin’s campaign was not involved in submitting the photocopied signatures.
Haggerty spent more than a year in the slammer after he was convicted of money laundering and grand larceny for stealing about $750,000 from the 2009 reelection campaign of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
After leaving prison, Haggerty worked for Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign with the blessing of right-wing New York firebrand Carl Paladino.
A spokeswoman for state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy – who has previously said the Zeldin campaign and state party are “fully integrated on a daily basis” – blasted the probe as politically motivated.
“This is all an attempt to distract from Kathy Hochul’s corrupt scheme that gave a $637 million no-bid contract to her top donor where she paid double the value for COVID tests to get $300,000 in kickbacks to her campaign. She is not only facing unemployment from the voters this November, but she should be prosecuted,” said spokeswoman Jessica Proud.
Zeldin, meanwhile, stayed quiet about the revelations surrounding possible criminal behavior by his political allies.
“Nothing else to add,” Zeldin said.
“I’m not going into hypotheticals,” Zeldin said when asked whether he stood by Haggerty as he faces possible criminal charges over the alleged ballot fraud.
Democrats are trying to leverage the issue against Zeldin ahead of the Nov. 8 election, especially considering how Zeldin campaign manager Eric Amidon is listed 47 times on the petition as a go-to contact regarding any issues with the Elections Board.
“As a congressman, Lee Zeldin supported legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election and pushed baseless conspiracy theories under the banner of ‘election integrity,’ but apparently that doesn’t apply to his own campaign,” Hochul campaign manager Brian Lenzmeier said in a statement.
The BOE and Soares did not respond to requests for comment.