Political insiders within the local Democratic Party have begun to reveal an election scheme that has been derailed. The plan was hatched by operatives backing incumbent Senator Mark Grisanti, namely the disgraced Joel Giambra, and Marc Panepinto, who is — mind bogglingly — the endorsed Democrat running against Grisanti.
Giambra and Panepinto go way back, and are both involved with the Westside union organizing and Italian political community that some say constitutes “the remnants of Stefano Maggadino’s mafia.” They still refer to themselves as “La Cosa Nostra,” translated to mean “this thing of ours,” or “this house of ours.”
They dubbed the covert plan “Gri-pinto,” sources say.
The failure of the scheme’s main component — a Grisanti primary victory — has thrown much of the local Democratic party into a baffled confusion on how to proceed towards their end goal: the reelection of liberal candidate Mark Grisanti, who continues to wage an effort for the seat on the Independence Party line — despite badly losing the GOP nomination to Kevin Stocker.
Now, there is much in-fighting among the warring factions of the local Democrat organization. Finger pointing has erupted regarding why and who forced Laura Palisano Hackathorn out of the race for the 60th district seat. She was widely acknowledged to be a viable and exciting candidate who was asked to run by former Rep. Kathy Hochul.
The scheme required that Grisanti win his primary, which would have then been followed by a Cuomo endorsement of Grisanti based on the Governor’s inability to support Panepinto due to his past election fraud conviction.
Stocker’s landslide victory over Grisanti derailed the “Gri-pinto” plan, which has resulted in the Democrats being left with a candidate who himself has admitted in the past that he is not a viable candidate for the New York State Senate. The original scheme involved Panepinto running a minimalist campaign that gave the voters the appearance of a choice when in fact the election would be an intended farce.
The Gri-Pinto scheme is reminiscent of one that Panepinto hatched in 2006, involving Maria Whyte, who now serves in the Poloncarz Administration. Both Panepinto and Whyte fraudulently ran for multiple committeemen seats: Whyte ran in 8 different races, while Panepinto ran for 4 seats. It was an effort to takeover the North District committee by replacing those who supported the widely beloved Councilman Joe Golombek.
In 2006, the intent was to have Whyte resign in eight of her races and Panepinto resign in four, so that the committee on vacancies could appoint others who would actually be the candidates on election-day. Voters who signed designating petitions for Panepinto and Whyte under false pretenses were misled and denied a fair and uncorrupted election.
Panepinto notarized Whyte’s fraudulent petitions. Once this fraud was publicly revealed by Golombek, Panepinto and Whyte immediately withdrew in hopes of not being convicted. The seats were left unfilled.
This happened only five short years after Panepinto was convicted of election fraud in another 2001 scheme, for which the Bar association suspended his law license based on that felony charge and misdemeanor conviction.
Democrats are even more worried that the various narratives of election fraud and manipulative electioneering will only confirm the argument that Republican Kevin Stocker continues to make: that the New York State Senate needs someone committed to restoring integrity to that legislative body.
Cuomo and local party leaders have been left flailing as they rapidly attempt to recover and plot a news strategy on how to proceed towards the general election. They can either support the convict, Panepinto; or they can support his co-conspirator who now only holds a minor party line. Neither of whom are politically viable.
Cuomo is making a tortured and confused claim that Grisanti lost his primary not due to the repeated disrespect that he has shown for his constituents as he misled them on issue after issue, rather due to his vote prior to the last general election related gay marriage.
This claim disrespects voters’ intelligence: Grisanti won the primary and general election following that vote in 2012.
As this scheme continues to unravel more will likely be revealed — and more insider Democratic party dirt is sure to be thrown in every which direction — so, stay tuned.