Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro accuses his own former campaign consultant of large-scale voter fraud

Pennsylvania’s governor-elect rose to prominence by downplaying Republican voter fraud fears

Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro/Facebook

Chuck Ross • November 16, 2022 2:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, who has gained notoriety for downplaying Republican allegations of voter fraud, accused one of his former campaign consultants of “large-scale” ballot tampering on Wednesday.

Shapiro, in his capacity as Attorney General of Pennsylvania, alleges that Philadelphia political consultant Rasheen Crews duplicated more than 1,000 signatures on petitions to add his clients to the Democratic primary ballots for the 2019 Philadelphia mayor elections.

“By soliciting and organizing the large-scale forgery of signatures, the defendant undermined the democratic process and the right of Philadelphians to a free and fair election,” Shapiro said in a statement announcing the charges.

The announcement of the indictment just a week after the gubernatorial election could raise questions for Shapiro, who was a vocal critic of Republicans who questioned the results of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election. According to an arrest affidavit, Shapiro’s office opened an investigation into Crews in September 2019. It’s unclear why it took three years to bring charges against him.

Crews has consulted with dozens of national and local candidates over the years, according to campaign finance disclosures. Shapiro’s attorney general’s campaign paid Crews $2,000 in 2016, according to the Pennsylvania Campaign Finance Database.

Crews’ customers denied knowledge of the infringement scheme, according to the affidavit. Crews allegedly hired individuals to forge signatures so that his clients would be listed on Democratic primary ballots for the Philadelphia mayoral elections. He had the ballot applications notarized and then filed them with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

James Berardinelli, who hired Crews to obtain signatures for a legal campaign, told Shapiro’s office that he was unaware that Crews had included fake signatures on his ballot petition.

Federally, Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Pa.) has paid Crews $19,075 for a variety of services since 2016. The campaign paid Crews $800 in May to serve as a poll worker, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Evans hired crews for grassroots organizing, “voter contact” and “petitions” in the 2016 and 2018 cycles. Evans was elected in a special election in 2016 to replace former Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who resigned from Congress in June 2016 after his conviction for fraud and racketeering.

The Philadelphia chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers paid Crews $50,625 between 2014 and 2016, according to campaign disclosures. The Justice Department accused the union last year of waging a campaign of intimidation against rank-and-file members since at least 2014 to force them to vote for incumbent union leaders.

Shapiro and Evans’ offices did not respond to requests for comment.

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