By KEVIN MOONEY | Watchdog.org
Among the many individuals who impersonated voters in Rhode Island during the 2010 election cycle, there was one that really stood out.
That was the year Democratic Mayor David Cicilline of Providence, ran for and won the congressional seat vacated by Rep. Patrick Kennedy.
A key witness who claims she was hired by Cicilline in 2010 alleges in a sworn statement that several individuals impersonated actual voters, and voted in disguise.
That’s where the alleged fraud got creative.
“That afternoon I identified individuals who had voted in disguise, including cross-gender clothing, earlier in the day,” the witness said. “This included a currently powerful leader in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.”
That allegation was just one of several laid out by Cicilline’s Democratic primary opponent in a Providence news conference Wednesday.
Anthony Gemma, who is running against Cicilline in the Sept. 11 primary race for the House seat, told reporters in Providence that a private investigation agency he retained uncovered evidence that reveals a highly organized voter-fraud effort surrounding Cicilline’s campaigns dating back to 2002.
The fraud “compromises the very core of the electoral process,” Gemma told reporters.
Gemma said he has presented federal and state officials with sworn statements from people associated with Cicilline who say they saw — and sometimes participated in — multiple instances of voter fraud.
TRP Associates LLC, the private investigation group Gemma hired, includes retired state police officers.
Cicilline’s campaign immediately denounced the claim.
“This was nothing more than another bizarre and outrageous political stunt,” Eric Hyers, the Cicilline campaign manager said in a news release. “Mr. Gemma has not one shred of evidence that David has done anything wrong. Instead he produced nothing more than bizarre statements about witnesses holed up in attics with weapons and a state representative (allegedly) wearing disguises to vote at multiple locations. David believes that the people of Rhode Island deserve a real discussion of the serious issues we face, not more irresponsible political games from Anthony Gemma.”
Key passages included in the statements that Gemma released during his news conference offer unusual insight into the alleged conspiracy, including the presence of formal training offered to subjects willing to carry out voter fraud.
Gemma also said that it “strains credibility” to believe that Cicilline was unaware of the voter fraud efforts that infected his campaigns.
“Either David Cicilline, beginning in 2002 and continuing to this day, knowingly has committed voter fraud on a massive scale, or David Cicilline is so incompetent a leader that he cannot recognize massive levels of criminality taking place before his eyes,” Gemma said. “Either way, David Cicilline has shown himself to be unfit to serve in the Congress of the United States. That being noted, let me be absolutely clear: It strains credibility to the breaking point to accept that David Cicilline, the experienced and celebrated criminal lawyer who for years touted his credentials as a reformer, could have remained ignorant of the criminal acts being perpetrated all around him, for his benefit, for a decade.”
Most witness names were expunged from the media material and replaced with the designation “CA.”
Train illegal voters, break the machines, use paper ballots
Gemma’s documents allege that voter fraud has been fine-tuned to the point that willing participants can be trained to carry it out. One witness claimed that at least 10 people received instructions from a woman identified as “CA4.”
“After the election, I reviewed a list of the individuals who voted at the Elmwood Community Center,” the witness said. “I noted the presence of numerous Chinese names. I visited the residents of these individuals, all of whom told me they did not vote.”
Nevertheless, votes were recorded in their names. The voter fraud trainees included an underage male who called himself “John Smith,” the witness said. Mr. Smith voted multiple times, according to the witness statement.
Another statement explained that it was possible for campaign operatives to secure fraudulent votes by tampering with the voting machines and by putting together lists of voters who could be impersonated.
During the 2006 election, a witness who worked at the Roger Williams Botanical Gardens polling place noted several individuals who “tampered with voting machines, which began to break down.” When poll workers switched to old-fashioned paper ballots, the witness said, “I observed extra ballots being submitted.”
Poor English skills a plus
The same witness claimed to work as a ward captain at the University Avenue polling place and alleged that she “was hired by David Cicilline. I believe my hiring was motivated by the expectation that I could be taken advantage of because of my poor English. That day I was pressured on many occasions by associates to approve voters who were suspicious to me.”
The same witness observed several individuals who voted in disguise, but recalled one in particular. “That afternoon I identified individuals who had voted in disguise, including cross-gender clothing, earlier in the day,” the witness said. “This included a currently powerful leader in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
“Given the frequency of instances of multiple ballots being cast by the same individual – all of whom spoke of their support for Angela Taveras – I was certain that Taveras would be the next mayor of Providence,” the witness said.
The witness also was given a list of names of voters who would be impersonated, according to the statement. This is known as a “safe list.”
Identifying the nonvoters and recruiting the’runners’
Going back to Cicilline’s 2002 campaign for mayor, another witness described how impersonators stood in for voters, and how money was paid out in exchange for votes.
“On multiple occasions during the campaign, I personally witnessed CA3 and CA1, both close working associates of David Cicilline, paying cash to individuals to secure their votes for Cicilline.”
On election day, Cicilline’s ward captains and organizers had identified registered voters who were unlikely to vote, the witness statement explained.
“Calls would come in from Cicilline ward captains in official capacities at the polls asking for the identities of nonvoters who according to their gender, age and race, which in turn were given to runners, who transported (impersonators) to vote.”
These impersonators included, but were not limited, to homeless persons and visiting foreigners, according to the statements. The impersonators, in most instances, lived in or near New Bedford, the witness said.
The evidence, which includes written statements, audio and video tape,s has been forwarded to the Rhode Island State Police and the FBI, Gemma said during the news conference. The video and audio tapes are “the product of sophisticated electronic and human surveillance operations that confirm the contents of sworn statements,” he said.