Dem in Delco election scheme charged with petition forgery

Cairns: Could get 2 years in jail.
Cairns: Could get 2 years in jail.
Posted: July 01, 2011

It was a dirty election. Even by Delaware County standards.

Last spring, an Upper Darby GOP operative forged signatures for Pat Meehan, the Republican candidate in the 7th Congressional District.

Then, over the summer, supporters of Democrat Bryan Lentz tried to split the conservative vote by assisting right-wing cuckoo Jim Schneller, an Obama "birther" with no shot at winning.

The Democrats' scheme failed. Meehan was elected easily in November.

But criminal charges are still seeping out of the stinking rubble eight months later.

Yesterday, Lentz ally Richard Cairns was charged with perjury and filing false signatures and statements in nominating petitions for allegedly submitting fraudulent petitions to place Schneller on the ballot.

"I kind of like having a choice on the ballot," Cairns, 58, told the Daily News in August, attempting to explain why he had gathered signatures for an ultraconservative candidate.

But Commonwealth Court depositions from a lawsuit challenging Schneller's candidacy revealed a clumsy conspiracy among Delaware County Democrats - including one of Lentz's campaign workers - to siphon votes from Meehan by helping Schneller.

Schneller, a Radnor oddball who occasionally speaks in the third person, initially dismissed that allegation, saying that the news reports were "as tiresome as watching two mice pushing a pancake around a plate." Schneller later admitted that Democrats had been using him to hurt Meehan.

Cairns, a general contractor who lives near Lentz in Swarthmore, could not be reached yesterday. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison and $1,000 in fines.

Paul Summers pleaded guilty in April to forging signatures on Meehan's nominating petitions. He was sentenced to two years probation and a $1,400 fine.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|