Republican politician Michael Ragusa has dropped out of the race for City Council District 47 following allegations of forged signatures on his ballot petitions.
The former GOP candidate announced he would officially pull out of the race on April 15 in an online post after Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny accused someone on Ragusa’s team of forging his signature on a petition in order to get on the primary ballot, as first reported by City and State. Brook-Krasny did not immediately return request for comment.
Ragusa claimed the allegations “have created an insurmountable barrier to continuing my campaign.”
According to Ragusa, he found out about the accusations on April 14 and believes the incident was a set up designed to damage his campaign. He said one of his volunteers turned in a page of forged signatures that were later turned into the Board of Elections.
“I would never do that. Upon looking into it, we’ve narrowed down who got these signatures and it was a person sent from another Republican campaign,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “When I picked it up from him, the signatures were there. They forged everything but I wasn’t responsible for checking the signatures. That’s what I pay people for.”
After being called out by Brook-Krasny, Ragusa made the decision to pull out of the race in order to protect his current employment and the morality of the election.
“I believe in election integrity and democracy so I wasn’t going to stay in a race when I had a forged signature of the assemblyman. That just wouldn’t be right,” he said. “I talked to people and we all agreed that this was the best choice for me.”
The south Brooklyn pol has since reached out to the Assembly Member to apologize and clarify that his team was not a part of the forgery. From the beginning of his campaign in July 2022, Ragusa claims he has been told his opponents would do everything in their power to get him off the ballot — and these accusations did exactly that.
“I just feel like I was a threat to these people, I came out of nowhere and I had the backing of very high profile people and they got scared. I out-raised everyone on the first round of fundraising so things like this really made these people want to get me off the ballot,” Ragusa said.
As of April 18, Ragusa has raised $21,270 in private funds compared to Council Man Ari Kagan, a sitting councilmember and fellow Republican candidate, who has raised the most at $138,364 in private and public funds. According to campaign finance records, Ragusa has spent more than $39,000 on the race thus far.
“When it comes down to it, they want who they want and there’s nothing you can do about it. They’ll do anything to get you off the ballot,” he said.
Ragusa was running for the Republican nomination against Kagan, who switched political parties last year, public school teacher Anna Belfiore-Delfaus and community activist Avery Pereira.
The primaries are scheduled for June 27 and the Republican winner will likely face Democratic Councilman Justin Brannan in the November general election.