Mandatory Credit: Photo by JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13095541d) Republican Congressman Lee...

Mandatory Credit: Photo by JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13095541d) Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York, who is also running for New York Governor, speaks during a press conference with Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York where they criticized the city and the state response to immigrants being bused from Texas, in New York, New York, USA, 15 August 2022. Congresspeople Zeldin and Malliotakis Press Conference on Immigrants in New York, USA - 15 Aug 2022 Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

ALBANY — Democratic leaders on Tuesday accused the campaign of Republican nominee for governor Lee Zeldin of fraud for allegedly padding his petitions for the Independence Party line with 900 pages of duplicate signatures.

“I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude,” said Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), who is a member of the Senate Elections Committee. “There are crimes here.”

In July, the state Board of Elections rejected Zeldin's petition to gain the Independence Party line. The board found that of the 52,096 signatures submitted, 12,868 were invalid because they were photocopies of valid signatures. That was 5,882 valid signatures less than required 45,000 needed secure to the line.

The Democrats, including state party chairman Jay Jacobs, made the accusations during a news conference with reporters on Tuesday. The Democrats support Gov. Kathy Hochul's election bid.

Zeldin’s campaign denied any role in the copies inserted into the petition. “Our campaign had no knowledge of any photocopies and didn’t make any photocopies,” said Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz. She didn’t say who may have made the copies.

Senate Elections Committee Chairman Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat, has asked Albany County District Attorney David Soares to investigate who in the Zeldin campaign inserted the duplicated pages. Soares hasn’t yet said if he will investigate.

A minor party line can be important. Republicans have often taken those lines to attract votes to help overcome the Democrats' better than 2:1 enrollment advantage over Republicans statewide.

State Republican Committee spokeswoman Jessica Proud said inserting the copied pages of signatures was an error as hundreds of volunteers and staff frantically assembled the petition as a deadline loomed to submit the document. She said making copies was a common practice for the committee to retain a copy of the records.

“The process was chaotic and as a result, copies of the valid signatures were inadvertently included in the filing,” Proud said. “The mistake was acknowledged and the board's decision to rule the petitions invalid was accepted with no further action taken.”

Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) cited a press report that said members of the Long Island Loud Majority helped compile signatures for Zeldin. The group is listed among “extreme anti-government groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Kaplan said Zeldin is “coddling these extremists,” noting the Long Island Loud Majority has opposed rights for gay and trans people, among other issues.

“We can’t sit back and let these people take over our state and our communities and spread their hateful ideologies,” Kaplan said.

A spokesman for the Long Island Loud Majority, Shawn Farash, said that he didn’t know if any members helped Zeldin compile signatures and denied that the organization is an extremist or hate group.

The Democrats said they haven’t been contacted by Soares, but they are confident the prosecutor, a Democrat, will act.

“The facts are the facts, it’s very clear,” Jacobs said. “There’s no dispute …. The only question is what crimes were committed or what actions were committed and by who. I think it would be unusual under the circumstances for a district attorney not to investigate, so I have every expectation that they will.”

ALBANY — Democratic leaders on Tuesday accused the campaign of Republican nominee for governor Lee Zeldin of fraud for allegedly padding his petitions for the Independence Party line with 900 pages of duplicate signatures.

“I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude,” said Sen. Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), who is a member of the Senate Elections Committee. “There are crimes here.”

In July, the state Board of Elections rejected Zeldin's petition to gain the Independence Party line. The board found that of the 52,096 signatures submitted, 12,868 were invalid because they were photocopies of valid signatures. That was 5,882 valid signatures less than required 45,000 needed secure to the line.

The Democrats, including state party chairman Jay Jacobs, made the accusations during a news conference with reporters on Tuesday. The Democrats support Gov. Kathy Hochul's election bid.

Zeldin’s campaign denied any role in the copies inserted into the petition. “Our campaign had no knowledge of any photocopies and didn’t make any photocopies,” said Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz. She didn’t say who may have made the copies.

Senate Elections Committee Chairman Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat, has asked Albany County District Attorney David Soares to investigate who in the Zeldin campaign inserted the duplicated pages. Soares hasn’t yet said if he will investigate.

A minor party line can be important. Republicans have often taken those lines to attract votes to help overcome the Democrats' better than 2:1 enrollment advantage over Republicans statewide.

State Republican Committee spokeswoman Jessica Proud said inserting the copied pages of signatures was an error as hundreds of volunteers and staff frantically assembled the petition as a deadline loomed to submit the document. She said making copies was a common practice for the committee to retain a copy of the records.

“The process was chaotic and as a result, copies of the valid signatures were inadvertently included in the filing,” Proud said. “The mistake was acknowledged and the board's decision to rule the petitions invalid was accepted with no further action taken.”

Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) cited a press report that said members of the Long Island Loud Majority helped compile signatures for Zeldin. The group is listed among “extreme anti-government groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Kaplan said Zeldin is “coddling these extremists,” noting the Long Island Loud Majority has opposed rights for gay and trans people, among other issues.

“We can’t sit back and let these people take over our state and our communities and spread their hateful ideologies,” Kaplan said.

A spokesman for the Long Island Loud Majority, Shawn Farash, said that he didn’t know if any members helped Zeldin compile signatures and denied that the organization is an extremist or hate group.

The Democrats said they haven’t been contacted by Soares, but they are confident the prosecutor, a Democrat, will act.

“The facts are the facts, it’s very clear,” Jacobs said. “There’s no dispute …. The only question is what crimes were committed or what actions were committed and by who. I think it would be unusual under the circumstances for a district attorney not to investigate, so I have every expectation that they will.”

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