Council candidate shares evidence used to file lawsuit
by Shane Miller
Aug 15, 2017 | 691 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paul Graziano with campaign worker Emily Tagarello.
Paul Graziano with campaign worker Emily Tagarello.
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Paul Graziano, a candidate for the City Council’s 19th District, invited members of the press to review the evidence from a lawsuit he filed challenging the petitions his challenger, incumbent Paul Vallone, used to get on the ballot for the September 12th Democratic Primary.

Graziano decided to drop the lawsuit last week citing the prohibitive cost. While his campaign has approximately $100,000 on hand thanks to the city’s matching funds program, rules prohibit that money from being used to fund lawsuits.

Only money obtained from direct contributions can be used for that purpose.

“I would have been forced to raise another $15,000 or $20,000 in about a week with no guarantee of winning or losing,” Graziano told reporters in Flushing on Monday afternoon. (WATCH VIDEO)

He said his press conference was “about housekeeping and responding to disparaging comments, I’m not trying to attack Paul Vallone.”

The Vallone campaign released a scathing statement following Graziano dropping his, in their words, “phony lawsuit.”

“Faced with arguing his absurd case in front of a judge, Graziano instead chose to withdraw the complaint, tacitly admitting that this was nothing more than a cheap, meritless publicity stunt that wasted everyone’s time,” the statement continued.

Despite withdrawal of the lawsuit, Graziano is still convinced the Vallone campaign violated Board of Election rules governing the petition process.

That includes using underage high school kids to collect petition signatures, the same person signing multiple petitions, and one petitioner who collected a suspect 256 signatures in one day.

As for the first allegation, Graziano shared video footage of a teenager he was later able to identify through social media as a Queens high school sophomore collecting signatures at the annual Fourth of July celebration at Fort Totten in Bayside on June 28.

Graziano said he was just one of several high school students carrying petitions and collecting signatures.

“He used underage kids to collect signatures at Fort Totten,” he said of Vallone.

Volunteers collecting signatures must be registered in the party they are collecting primary signatures for, which means they would have to turn 18 before the primary and be registered in, this case, the Democratic Party.

Graziano also shared several petitions that revealed a staffer in Vallone’s council office signed three different times, also a violation of elections rules.

As for the 256 signatures collected by one Vallone campaign staffer at the same June 28th event where Graziano spotted the underage kids, he said it was virtually impossible to collect that many signatures at once.

Graziano said each signer takes about two minutes to fill out all of the necessary information.

“That means at best you could collect 30 signatures in one hour,” he said.

Graziano said the evidence he shared is just the tip of the iceberg, and he plans to release more information on his website every few days.

“This was consistent illegal behavior with Paul Vallone consistently denying it in the press,” he said.
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