Due to legal costs, Graziano drops Court case challenging validity of Vallone's petition signatures

By LOUIS FLORES

Paul Graziano announced on Tuesday that he was ending the Court challenge to the validity of the primary ballot petition signatures collected by the committee to reëlect his incumbent rival, New York City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). The cause given was the high costs of waging the legal proceeding, according to a statement issued by Mr. Graziano.

"While I have found clear and disturbing evidence over the past few weeks that supports my claims, it is with great reluctance that I ended my court challenge today, due to lack of campaign funds ; although I have received the maximum amount of public matching funds - $100,000 - this funding cannot be spent on legal action, particularly related to challenging the validity of an opponent's petitions," Mr. Graziano stated, in relevant part, according to the statement.

Mr. Graziano, the Democratic Party insurgent primary candidate, had filed a petition in Queens Civil Court, alleging fraud and forgery, amongst other allegations, in the primary ballot petition signatures collected by Councilmember Vallone's reëlection committee. Had the Court challenge run its course, the legal proceeding had threatened to reveal potential criminality in the primary ballot petition signature collection practises used by Councilmember Vallone's campaign committee, according to the allegations.

Instead of making the revelations of alleged misconduct in a Court of law, Mr. Graziano has scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. on Monday at 146-24 32nd Avenue, Flushing, Queens, to make a presentation of his findings.

It was not immediately clear if there would be any legal repercussions to the allegations of criminality detailed in the legal petition filed by Mr. Graziano, which set forth information of alleged misconduct by Councilmember Vallone's campaign committee. Incumbent Queens officials, such as Councilmember Vallone, generally run for office with the institutional support of the Queens Democratic County Committee, which also provides key institutional support to the election campaigns of District Attorney Richard Brown (D-Queens) and the justices of the New York State Supreme Court for Queens County. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, which has jurisdiction over Queens, would not answer advance questions for this report.

Mr. Graziano had been being represented by Martin Connor, a former New York State Senator, who has, at times, also represented the campaign committees of incumbent politicians.

The top attorneys in the Federal prosecutors' offices do not campaign for office. Instead, U.S. Attorneys, who head Federal prosecutors' offices, are appointed by U.S. Presidents and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handle cases on behalf of the U.S. Attorney's Office, are recruited from private practise or hired directly out of law school to serve as career prosecutors. The top Brooklyn Federal prosecutor, Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde, was elevated internally from within the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn after President Donald Trump (R), acting through U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, removed from office 46 top Obama-era holder appointments in the U.S. Attorneys' Offices across the nation last March. Although top U.S. Department of Justice attorneys can come under the sway of the White House and political party bias, Federal prosecutors are at least to some extent independent of County political pressures than their local prosecutor counterparts due to the absence of Federal prosecutors having to garner electoral support for campaign committees.

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