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As in Wertheim's case, the Greens took it a step further. Last week Graziano asked the district attorney to pursue a criminal investigation. "I'm not going after him for frivolous reasons," said Graziano. "This is someone approving forged signatures. That's just wrong."
Walsh's lawyer, Queens Republican leader and City Councilman Thomas Ognibene, has denied the fraud charges but has told the judge the case should've been dismissed already, pointing to technical defects in Graziano's motions.
Whatever defects exist shouldn't stand in the way of finding real fraud, however, insisted Dowd. "What we are doing is a public service," said the insurgent lawyer. "When you have candidates actually going out there and committing forgeries, I don't think voter choice comes into play here. I believe in liberal ballot-access laws, but on the other hand if we have this rope out thereif I can spend a few hours finding forgeries in the filingsI am going to use it to hang them."
That kind of talk is a little spooky for old-time party regulars, who see a fair share of suspicious petitions in every election. Jeff Feldman, executive director of the Kings County Democratic Committee, spent most of last week along with many Brooklyn Democrats observing hearings on the candidacy of Sandra Roper, an attorney seeking to run in a Democratic primary against Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Hynes's lawyers have alleged that some two-thirds of the 14,000 signatures submitted by Roper are invalid, many because of fraud. Roper has denied it. But Feldman said getting her off the ballot would be ample reward. "This isn't a blood sport," he said. "No one's looking to get anyone locked up."