The Brooklyn Board of Elections chopped more than 120,000 Democratic voters from borough rolls last Tuesday, just in time for New York’s presidential primary, and Republican insiders claim the scandal has ties to Kings County’s reigning conservative — state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge).
Republican chief election clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano was the only official to take heat for the mysterious Democratic purge — the Board of Elections suspended her last week. But elections officials incorrectly passed over the borough’s Republican Board of Elections commissioner Simon Shamoun and the man who put him there — Golden — conservative politicos charge.
Shamoun is Haslett-Rudiano’s superior and should be held responsible for her role in the purge, critics say.
“People should call for his resignation,” a party honcho said. “He should have known what was going on.”
An ongoing internal investigation probably won’t come up with anything more than Rudiano’s pure incompetence, but if investigators look hard enough, they will find that Golden is pulling the strings, another conservative politico said.
“This goes back a couple of years and at the end of the day, Golden could be in some trouble if people look deep enough,” said longtime member of the party’s county committee Russell Gallo. “Simon is Marty’s puppet — he’s not making any decisions on his own. He has no skin in the game. For the most part, he has a nice title and he’s good friends with Golden and he does what he wants him to do.”
The whole thing dates back to 2012 when the Kings County Republican Committee missed a deadline to install its party’s Board of Elections commissioner, so the decision fell to the Council.
Shamoun, a former Golden aide, landed at his four-year post in 2013 because Golden pulled some strings for him, several sources claim. Brooklyn’s lone Republican state senator cozied up with a few Republican members of Council, including the disgraced Dan Halloran and now-Staten Island Borough president Jimmy Oddo, so he could count on their votes to appoint Shamoun.
And insiders say Golden even offered to help re-jigger councilmanic districts in exchange for a nod to appoint Shamoun, sources say.
“It was a back-room deal with Council members in Queens and Staten Island, because the City Council approves the commissioner,” another Republican insider active in Brooklyn and Staten Island said.
Indeed, both pols gleaned victories when officials changed district lines in 2013. Oddo, who once represented both the Rock and the Ridge, emerged from reapportionment with his long-awaited Shaolin-only district. And Halloran dodged a bullet when the city decided not to extend his district into a heavily Asian section of Queens that would dilute his mostly white voter base.
Once the deadline was missed and the committee failed to submit a name, Golden pounced on the opportunity to put in his own loyal player, insiders say.
“The way he was installed, he can’t possibly be an unbiased commissioner,” Gallo said.
And the senator’s ally has been repaying the favor, Golden watchers say — in 2013, Brooklyn election board staffers under Shamoun shredded 20 pages of signatures petitioning to get former Republican party chairman Craig Eaton — Golden’s longtime nemesis — onto a ballot, but no one faced any penalties.
Golden did not respond to multiple requests for comment prior to publication. His office did call after this article was published to say that it was wildly inaccurate, but a spokesman declined to comment further.