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Citizen reporters can expose election crimes

Oyster Bay plans to borrow $30 million to

Oyster Bay plans to borrow $30 million to address cash flow problems. Above, a view of Town Hall on March 26, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

In case anyone involved in election mischief-making needs a reminder on the bounds of appropriate conduct, along comes a settlement in a lawsuit filed against the Town of Oyster Bay.

Christopher Briggs, a former town bay constable, said his civil and First Amendment rights were violated during his 2013 campaign for town board. Briggs said he had photos and videos of a deputy town attorney loading signs for incumbent Michele Johnson, one of Briggs' opponents, into the attorney's town-owned car during work hours, and of town employees using town vehicles while tearing down Briggs's campaign signs. All of these activities would be violations of state law.

In settling, the town agreed to remind workers they can't engage in political activity during work hours and can't use town property to do so. But here's the rub: Briggs must turn over or destroy his photos and videos. That forfeiture should be a call to action for this fall's election.

Get your cellphones and video cameras ready. If you see something, shoot it. Then use social media to expose the lawbreakers. It will get attention. What they're doing isn't high jinks, it's illegal. Our district attorneys don't take this behavior seriously, nor do boards of elections. If you want to remove politics from governance, this is a good start.