The Orange County Board of Elections tapes.
“It’s more THEIR civil rights than YOURS…”
Over the past several weeks, the confusion over the stance of the Orange County Board of Elections (OCBOE) and its appointed commissioners has reached a frenzied crescendo. This is largely due to the actions of the Orange County grass-roots anti-corruption group, United Monroe, and several private citizens who wanted transparency on the election process. Accountability on the issue has been clouded by both political influence and the actions of the County Attorney’s office, headed by Langdon Chapman.
Suburbanites.com has obtained the original copies of the recordings that were furnished to News12 for use in their articles because we felt the public had a fundamental right to know the level of corruption in the election process in the County. There is very little editorialization other than to provide background on each of the conversations. We believe the information on the tapes speaks for itself in depicting an election process that is both corrupt and politically complicit in ensuring that Kiryas Joel could continue the fraudulent processes that manipulated the 2013 elections in Monroe that had an impact on the remainder of voting in Orange County.
August 15th – Election Inspector assignments were issued to those inspectors who had requested assignment in Kiryas Joel. These were issued by e-mail just after the closing of the OCBOE office for the weekend so that no questions could be addressed until the following Monday.
August 18th – Monroe resident Andrew Buck contacted Commissioner Susan Bahren to question the rationale behind assignments outside Kiryas Joel when Kiryas Joel had been requested. The conversation follows below:
August 21 – The story was picked up by News12 Hudson Valley, which included excerpts of the full recording above, and portions of an interview with Buck. Commissioners would not comment on camera to the statements made on the recording, calling this “a non-story”.
August 25 – Amid public pressure and negative publicity toward the Orange County Board of Elections Commissioners, as well as letters submitted by United Monroe, Michael Egan, and Andrew Buck (various public officials on copy), a number of people were contacted by Commissioner Bahren to serve as election inspectors in Kiryas Joel for the primary. This included the recruitment of registered Republican voters to act as Democratic election inspectors as Commissioner Green was not in agreement with the move.
September 3 – Election Inspectors were finally sent written notice of their assigned locations by the OCBOE’s office. Rumors were heard that the support for external inspectors would be rescinded amidst political pressure from the leadership of Kiryas Joel. By 7:00 PM, certain individuals had received text messages stating that the KJ leaders had exerted pressure to have KJ-residents be the only permitted inspectors.
September 4, 11:55AM – Andrew Buck met directly with Commissioner Bahren at the Orange County Board of Elections offices. The recording of that conversation appears below and occurred openly between Bahren, Buck, and his wife.
Content of the tape was provided to News12 and other media outlets.
September 4, 5:30PM – United Monroe Chairperson, Emily Convers, received a returned phone call from Republican Orange County Board of Elections Commissioner David Green to comment on the current state of the decision and request background to its rescinding.
September 5, 11:55AM – Orange County Board of Elections Commissioner Bahren contacted United Monroe Chairperson Emily Convers to discuss the decision in further detail. Among the reasons cited were ‘cultural issues’ and ‘historical issues’ (the rationale of “this is how we’ve always done things”, similar to what you’ll hear on the recording with David Green). You’ll also hear the quote that “it’s more THEIR civil rights than YOURS”, citing that the civil rights of the Kiryas Joel citizenry apparently holds more clout than does that of the citizens of the rest of Orange County.
September 5, 6:00PM – The News12 story aired, citing the decision to rescind external poll inspectors from Kiryas Joel. No one wanted to discuss the situation on the record, despite the comments previously recorded from Convers and Buck that serve as testament to the influence of County Attorney Langdon Chapman’s office being pivotal to that decision.
September 8 – A rally was held at the offices of the County Executive and County Attorney, each of whom shrugged their shoulders at others in the process. Note the carefully worded comments of the County Executive, and how they do not address the direct statements from the Orange County Board of Elections Commissioners that were previously recorded, comments that placed the decision squarely in the lap of the County Attorney’s Office. “Not one person from KJ has contacted me.”
Guilty conscience, or an attempt to squelch comment? That remains unanswered, but no one suggested that the County Executive was contacted. The County Attorney, however, was the entity throwing this to the County Attorney.
September 9 – News12 story on the voting oversight in Kiryas Joel, in clouding the state Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Government.
So who’s really at the center of this? Perhaps the better question is to identify the people who are not being questioned: No one has gotten answers from the County Attorney, the same county attorney who has championed for Kiryas Joel issues in the past and the same one the County Executive took great pains to provide air cover by deflecting the the Board of Elections.
Just listen to the Commissioners in the recordings. Do either of them seem astute enough to create this type of detailed scheme? Ms. Bahren is cited as calling “Puerto Rican” as a language (bless her heart), and Mr. Green appears to not do much speaking other than to mumble unintelligibly. It’s very magnanimous of County Executive Neuhaus to throw two political appointees under the bus, but it’s also not terribly transparent unless he believes the voting public is so easily duped.
Neuhaus hand-picked Langdon Chapman, the former Monroe Town Attorney shortly after his election in a move that likely curried favor with the KJ leadership. It becomes very easy to see the likely chain of events: KJ calls Chapman, Chapman calls the BOE, and the County Executive is simply a convenient scapegoat to deflect and divert. It’s an elaborate shell-game, but that’s all and exactly what it is.
Kiryas Joel once again influenced the outcome of an election by cutting a deal with the candidates who would entertain them. By doing so, they’ve cut the interests of Orange County. Consider these facts:
NY State 98th Assembly District
- More than 50% of Karl Brabenec’s votes were from the Village of Kiryas Joel. Brabenec was notorious for doing a couple things during this election. The first was any legal tactic to get his biggest competitor, Dan Castricone, thrown off the ballot in a series of legal challenges to petitions. The second was by not taking any position on the Kiryas Joel pipeline, proposed annexation attempts, or anything that would run counter to KJ leadership’s political agenda. Ask if Brabanec supports the remainder of Orange County, and you’ll find that answer above.
- Elisa Tutini was the other KJ-selected candidate. Tutini is the politically-appointed and contract-paid operator of Monroe Dial-A-Bus, a position created for her since she did not take the required Civil Service Examination. She has no political experience, and no other notable experience in government. Her votes came almost entirely from Kiryas Joel, so if elected, you can expect that she would act as the rubber-stamp to any Kiryas Joel sanctioned request.
Town of Monroe Council
- Blanca Johnson is the Harley Doles appointee who currently runs the Swan Boat concession at Round Lake. She has no other political experience, and if elected would serve as yet another rubber-stamp to the current Town Council’s KJ-Backed majority.
You have a choice, Orange County.
- Dan Castricone was the runner-up on the Republican and Conservative lines in the Primary. He will be running on the United Monroe line in the 98th District in November. He has come out against the Kiryas Joel proposed annexation, pipeline expansion, and the abuses that KJ has sanctioned in the past. If you want a candidate who has the integrity to campaign without pandering to the Kiryas Joel bloc vote, Dan deserves your support.
- Dennis McWatters will be running for the Town of Monroe Council, also under the United Monroe line. McWatters has had extensive experience in local government, understands sound fiscal and planning policies, and is cited as ethical and a consummate professional in his dealings. He’s a candidate that will listen to the concerns of all of Monroe, not just those north of the Quickway. If you want a candidate with experience and integrity rather than a Harley Doles picked political puppet, Dennis McWatters is deserving of your support this November.
The choice, both in Monroe and in the 98th Assembly District rests with you. The need for voting transparency across Orange County rests with everyone.