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Pennsylvania governor-elect Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday his office arrested a former political consultant on allegations of forging thousands of Democratic primary ballots for the Philadelphia city elections in 2019.
Currently serving as the commonwealth’s attorney general, Shapiro said authorities arrested Rasheen Crews and charged him with Criminal Solicitation to Commit Forgery and Theft By Failure to Make Required Disposition for duplicating signatures on nomination petitions to get his clients on the ballot.
“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.”
Shapiro’s announcement comes days after securing the governor’s race victory against Republican Senator Doug Mastriano, who conceded in the race Sunday evening after losing by more than 14 points.
Pennsylvania’s incoming governor often criticized his gubernatorial opponent for his endorsement from former President Donald Trump and casting doubts about the 2020 Presidential Election results.
However, according to an arrest affidavit, Shapiro’s office opened an investigation into the allegations against Crews in September 2019, which found that the campaign consultant hired multiple candidates to help with the petition work by writing in enough names, addresses, and forging signatures on nomination petitions in a hotel room.
Crews would then allegedly have the petitions notarized and filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The attorney general’s office said over 1,000 signatures showed duplicated information, which led some candidates to withdraw from the election entirely.
The affidavit shows his clients were unaware of the scheme.
The Washington Free Beacon reports Pennsylvania campaign finance database shows Crews consulted for dozens of federal, state, and local candidates for at least six years, including Shapiro’s attorney general campaign, which paid Crews $2,000 in 2016.
A spokesperson for Crews told local media when the allegations first came up in 2019 that the political consultant did not use his normal vetting process for hiring workers to collect signatures to help more people than he could manage.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he reached out to judicial candidates three years ago after hearing about issues with the petitions, adding that they appeared to be “kitchen-table jobs.”
Brady said Crews has attempted reconciliation with the party and was offered a deal despite being under criminal investigation that would bar him from circulating petitions and other political activities. Brady, however, assumed Crews did not take the deal considering the criminal charges announced by the attorney general’s office.
“I guess they’re sending a message to people not to mess around with petitions,” Brady said. “Nothing wrong with that.”