Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fayette Controllers' Ballot Keeps Two Democrats

Appellate judge keeps Lally on Fayette ballot
By Chris Foreman
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An appellate judge on Monday denied a challenge by Fayette County Controller Mark Roberts to knock his Democratic primary opponent, Sean Lally, off the ballot because of problems with nominating petitions.
In a memorandum opinion, Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Joseph F. McCloskey upheld findings issued by Common Pleas Judge Steve P. Leskinen after a four-day hearing last month.

Leskinen struck about one-third of the 436 names Lally turned in on his petitions, but determined Roberts failed to show enough evidence to disqualify Lally from the race...

..."Contrary to challenger's assertions, there is no support for the argument that once an affidavit of a circulator is found to be false with regard to a signature contained on a nomination petition, all of the signatures on the nominating petition must be struck," McCloskey wrote...

Commonwealth Court: Lally stays on ballot
By:Amy Zalar
Updated 04/10/2007 10:19:29 AM EDT

A Commonwealth Court judge has ruled that Democratic Fayette County controller candidate Sean P. Lally will remain on the May 15 ballot for the position, affirming a lower court ruling allowing Lally to stay on the ballot after his nomination petitions were challenged by Fayette County Controller Mark Roberts...

...The order by Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Joseph F. McCloskey made Monday affirms an order filed last month by Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve P. Leskinen. During testimony, Lally said he did not personally circulate all the petitions he signed as the circulator, but said he did not think he was doing anything wrong because he gave the petitions to people that he trusted to circulate.
In his opinion, McCloskey affirmed all decisions of the trial court, which held that Lally had 288 valid signatures, or 38 more than the 250 required to seek the office. The ruling also did not consider additional issues raised on appeal by Roberts' attorneys.

On Thursday, McCloskey heard oral arguments on an appeal filed by Roberts. After four days of lengthy testimony, Leskinen struck 148 of the 436 signatures Lally turned in to the election bureau on 15 petitions...

...In his opinion, McCloskey rejected an argument by Roberts' attorneys that every petition that Lally admitted he did not personally circulate or was not present for every name being signed on it should be entirely stricken although Lally signed the affidavit on those petitions as the circulator...

...On the last day of testimony, Adams called a document examiner who testified that some signatures on the petitions did not match the signature on that voter's registration card in the election bureau.

Although Leskinen found that he factually believed the examiner, he ruled he could not legally struck the names from Lally's petitions because Roberts' challenge did not specify that as a defect...



Petition problems highlighted
By Chris Foreman
Monday, March 26, 2007

Insurance agents at AIG American General didn't give a second thought Feb. 21 to signing a petition nominating Sean Lally so he could oppose two-term Fayette County Controller Mark Roberts.
But four weeks later, 11 agents and the office secretary had to close the office because they found themselves on a witness stand, testifying about who asked them to sign and whether Lally was in their South Union Township office at the time.

Although Lally identified himself on an election affidavit as the circulator, he admitted this week he was sitting outside in a parked car while two supporters, insurance agent Mark D. Santore and former county Commissioner Sean Cavanagh, passed the petition around the office.

Roberts also contacted one business and dozens of homes to ask voters about their signatures.

Lally said he thought it was proper, but Roberts insisted those names and about 200 others should be removed for fraud or other irregularities.

The resulting four-day court battle rekindled a long-running feud within the Democratic Party between the Roberts family and the Cavanagh camp, which includes Lally and freshman state Rep. Tim Mahoney.

Stuck in the middle were many annoyed voters, the recipients of about 150 subpoenas Roberts' attorney issued last week.

"It's unfortunate when you try to do something right for the county and exercise your right to vote," said Michael Giachetti, one of the agents who testified Wednesday. "I've heard a lot of people say that they'll never sign another petition again."

While a judge struck about one-third of Lally's signatures on Thursday, the construction business owner ended up with 38 more than needed to remain on the ballot.

Roberts' court challenge scrutinized the integrity of the nomination process and left registered voters wondering whether they, too, might receive a subpoena the next time they sign a petition...


Fayette County Elections - Tribune Review search


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