Clout: Libertarians challenge GOP's challenges

Posted: October 05, 2012

AN ATTORNEY for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, has asked Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to investigate "a scandalous level of illegal activity by the Pennsylvania Republican Party."

Alicia Dearn, general counsel for Johnson's campaign, emailed Williams on Tuesday about concerns she has in the legal challenge that Republicans have been pursuing since early August to remove Johnson's name from the Nov. 6 general-election ballot.

The Republican Party hired Protocol Security Partners, a private-investigations firm in New Jersey, to interview people paid by Johnson's campaign to circulate nominating petitions.

Dearn said that some of those circulators told her that an investigator from that firm, Reynold Selvaggio, flashed a badge, "giving the implied or express impression that he was an FBI agent."

Dearn also said that some circulators reported being "offered cash payments of approximately $2,000 by an 'FBI officer' " to falsely testify in court that signatures they collected were fake. One of the circulators said that the offer had come from Selvaggio, she said.

"That' s a lie," said Selvaggio, who retired from the FBI last year. "That's completely a lie."

Selvaggio declined to comment further on Dearn's claims.

Larry Otter, an attorney representing the Republican Party in the ballot challenge, said he knew nothing of the claims until some of them were aired in court.

"They're allegations," Otter said. "Prove them."

Valerie Caras, a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, called Dearn's claims "baseless," and repeated the long-standing accusation that the Libertarians have submitted tens of thousands of signatures riddled with fraud and errors.

"This is simply a distraction from their own questionable activities," Caras said.

Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, needs 20,601 valid signatures from registered voters to stay on Pennsylvania's ballot. He submitted 49,000.

Attorneys have been slogging through the petitions, line by line, for weeks in state Commonwealth Court.

The Republicans appealed to the Supreme Court after a ruling in Commonwealth Court upheld about 9,000 Johnson signatures.

The Supreme Court may rule Friday on that appeal. If the Commonwealth Court ruling is upheld, Johnson stays on the ballot.

District Attorney spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said that she did not know if her boss had seen Dearn's letter and could not comment on any investigations.

A cure for election blues

The long slog of election season can be depressing - the pandering, the nasty attack ads, Jim Lehrer bewildered as candidates brush off his debate moderation.

1812 Productions has the cure.

"This Is The Week That Is: The Election Special" opened Wednesday at Plays & Players Theatre.

A cast of seven sing, dance and joke their way through a dead-on parody of stiff presidential candidates trying to relate to everyman America, fatuous cable-news pundits eager to coin the next hot buzzword and infuriating fact-checking that leaves voters longing for better choices.

"You know, a lot of people are saying this election reminds them of the Phillies: A lot more exciting four years ago," goes one of the opening jokes.

The show strives to be topical, with local flavor. The controversy about voter-ID legislation gets more than one send-up, including a scene in which a dead ringer for Betsy Ross asks for identification at a polling place in the first election after the Revolutionary War.

She explains the need, citing rampant fraud in the Second Continental Congress.

"There was voter fraud in the Second Continental Congress?" an astonished voter in 18th-century garb asks.

"No, but imagine if there had been," she replies.

"You are a conspiracy theorist," he declares.

"Oh, don't make this about me," she says dismissively. "You British are all the same."

More info: http://ph.ly/1812

Shameless plug

Daily News political columnist John Baer is out with a new book that takes readers on an irreverent chronological tour of Pennsylvania politics.

The book, On the Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-five Years of Keystone Reporting, tracks Baer's experiences from Gov. Shapp to Gov. Corbett.

It includes cartoons from Daily News Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson.

More info: http://ph.ly/Baer.

Quote Vs. Quote

" Fattah sprinkles money around in very concentrated areas while whistling past the economic graveyard and social decay in most of his district." - A line from a radio ad being run this week by Jim Foster, an independent challenging U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

" I'm not spending any time focusing on my own re-election. I'm focused on the president's re-election and trying to get a Democratic majority [in the U.S. House]. - Fattah, responding to Foster.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at PhillyClout.com.

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