After repeatedly trashing former President Donald Trump for telling “lie after lie” about the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election, the state’s newly elected governor and current attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, announced on Wednesday that his office has arrested a former political consultant and charged him with “wide-scale” voter fraud in connection to Philadelphia’s 2019 city elections.
Rasheen Crews was charged with Criminal Solicitation to Commit Forgery and Theft By Failure to Make Required Disposition, alleging he forged “signatures on nomination petitions to get his clients on the ballot for the 2019 Democratic primary races in Philadelphia,” according to a statement on the AG’s website.
“In advance of the 2023 municipal elections, this arrest is an important reminder that interfering with the integrity of our elections is a serious crime,” Shapiro said. “By soliciting and organizing the wide-scale forgery of signatures, the defendant undermined the democratic process and Philadelphians’ right to a free and fair election. My office is dedicated to upholding the integrity of the election process across the Commonwealth, to ensure everyone can participate in Pennsylvania’s future.”
Shapiro’s office opened its investigation into Crews in September 2019, the Daily Wire reports, calling into question Shapiro’s attacks against Trump.
In February 2021, long after his office began its probe of Crews, the AG even sent a memo to the U.S. Senate insisting that Pennsylvania’s elections are “free and fair.”
“For months, President Trump attacked the integrity of the Commonwealth’s election, repeating lie after lie at every opportunity,” Shapiro’s memo read. “In state and federal court, his attorneys laundered his lies as legal claims brought in increasingly frivolous lawsuits. One after another, they failed. The courts resoundingly confirmed what Pennsylvania already knew: The 2020 election in Pennsylvania was free and fair; it was conducted in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth and the United States; and the results of that election were accurate.”
“This memo sets the record straight about the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election,” Shapiro tweeted at the time. “I hope it helps the Senate better understand Trump’s campaign of lies and why he must be held accountable for the tragic events of January 6.”
This memo sets the record straight about the integrity of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election. I hope it helps the Senate better understand Trump’s campaign of lies and why he must be held accountable for the tragic events of January 6. https://t.co/YKjtmLnWuh
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) February 11, 2021
Meanwhile, according to Wednesday’s press release, the probe discovered that “multiple candidates hired Crews to help them obtain the requisite amount of signatures needed for their nomination petitions for the Democratic primary races.”
“Crews recruited individuals to help with the petition work, bringing them to a hotel room and asking them to write names, addresses, and forged signatures on multiple petitions,” the release explains. “Crews then had these petitions notarized and filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State on behalf of his clients.”
“Of the petitions that were reviewed, over one thousand signatures were determined to be duplicated,” Shapiro’s office states. “Many names and addresses were found repeated on various petition pages, some pages appeared to be photocopied entirely, and some of the listed individuals claimed to have never signed the petitions in question.”
As a result of the fraud, “some candidates chose to withdraw entirely from the election,” according to the press release.
Crews acted as a consultant for dozens of federal, state, and local candidates over the span of at least six years.
“Shapiro’s attorney general campaign paid Crews $2,000 in 2016, according to the Pennsylvania campaign finance database,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.
In 2019, when the allegations against Crews first came to light, his spokesperson, Billy Penn, said the accused was just trying to “help” too many people.
“In an attempt to help more people than he could manage, Mr. Crews did not use his normal vetting process for hiring workers to collect signatures,” Penn told local media at the time, adding that the majority of his clients — including City Council candidates and Mayor Jim Kenney — were “satisfied with his work.”
According to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, he was aware of the questions surrounding the petitions and “kitchen-table jobs” three years ago, when he reached out to judicial candidates.
Crews was offered a deal, Brady told the Philadelphia Inquirer, that would have barred him from certain political activities, including circulating petitions, though, given Shapiro’s announcement, he clearly didn’t take it.
Crews’ arrest, Brady said, was a “message” from Shapiro.
“I guess they’re sending a message to people not to mess around with petitions,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that.”
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