New York (PRWEB) March 29, 2010
A New York trial attorney, Steven De Castro, wrote a letter urging Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. to drop charges against the embattled Surrogate Judge Elect, Nora Anderson, who is on trial for two counts of filing a false instrument with the Board of Elections. People v. Anderson, Index No. 5768/08, New York Supreme Court (New York County)
De Castro argues that if Mr. Vance continues with the prosecution, he would be allowing his office to be used as a tool for democratic political insiders to knock out political rivals, jailing them for conduct that insiders engage in themselves.
According to De Castro, the political appointees on the Board of Elections singled out Ms. Anderson for a selective grand jury investigation because she delivered a humiliating election blow to the County Democratic Party Candidate, Judge Milton Tingling, whom she beat in an election by a 2-to-1 margin. “And by limiting the investigation to Ms. Anderson, the Board of Elections ensures that the investigation does not go too far, protecting politically-connected contributors who are engaged in similar or the same practice.”
THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW
Ms. Anderson is being prosecuted for utilizing a loophole in the election law, namely, that contributors are not required to disclose the source of the funds they use to make contributions. Apparently, Ms. Anderson used this loophole to receive money gifts from Brooklyn attorney Seth Rubinstein. After the money was hers, she made a contribution to her own campaign, and disclosed it as coming from herself (which it was). “It is well known that experienced political contributors use this loophole to avoid the contribution limits under the election laws, by setting up LLC's (who are “persons” under the Election Law), giving their moneys to the LLC's, which in turn, make contributions to candidates. Under current law, this practice is legal. A bill to require disclosure of intermediaries and limit contributions from recently-formed LLC's was proposed but died in the New York legislature.
“Ms. Anderson is not a political insider. She engaged in this same practice, but in a much more transparent way: she received a perfectly legal personal gift from Mr. Rubinstein, and then made a contribution to her own campaign, again, perfectly legal. Her treasurer reported the contribution in accordance with the election laws.”
Although the practice is legal under current law, the district attorney's office claims that this activity employs legal means to accomplish an illegal objective: that is, to conceal the true identity of a contributor.
De Castro argues that, while the practice of funneling money for candidates through third parties and LLC's may be dubious, the legislature has yet to make these methods illegal. "Perhaps there ought to be a law. But none exists yet."
“Although it is true that there would be benefits to (changing) such laws, there is no benefit is selecting a candidate for prosecution based on a legal standard that does not yet exist, for failing to place information on an official disclosure form which the form does not call for.”
Instead of waiting for the verdict, De Castro urges the district attorney to stop the prosecution now.
“Should Ms. Anderson be acquitted, justice will be served, but at the cost of keeping a duly elected judge off the bench for over a year.
“Should Ms. Anderson be convicted, your office will have been responsible for a selective prosecution to serve the political ends of a party machine.”
(the letter follows)
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