Emily Giske, Vice Chair of New York State’s Democratic Party, accused of voter fraud by fellow Democrat

Jim Fouratt, a prominent gay rights activist who ran against a powerful incumbent in a primary election for State Assembly on Manhattan’s West Side in 2016, has accused Emily Giske, the Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Party of regularly committing voter fraud in his presence.

Giske is New York’s top transgender rights activist and worked for powerful former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was sentenced to twelve years in prison on public corruption charges, before joining the State’s top lobbying firm, Bolton St. Johns (which was founded by Giorgio DeRosa, the father of former Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s top deputy and ‘enforcer’ Melissa DeRosa).

Giske is accused of knowingly voting in an election district where she does not live, at least twice — a federal felony offense for which she could be imprisoned for up to five years for each fraudulent vote she has cast.

Emily Giske, left, is a senior lobbyist and partner at Bolton St. Johns. Giorgio DeRosa, right, is the firm’s managing partner, and is widely acknowledged to be the most influential lobbyist in Albany. His daughter, Melissa DeRosa, served as the top deputy to former Governor Andrew Cuomo. Another Bolton St. Johns lobbyist, Mike Keogh, is the husband of Governor Kathy Hochul’s second in command.

52 U.S. Code § 20511 states clearly that such behavior is illegal:

A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office—
(1) knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for
(A) registering to vote, or voting, or attempting to register or vote;
(B) urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote; or
(C) exercising any right under this chapter; or
(2) knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by—
(A) the procurement or submission of voter registration applications that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held; or
(B) the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held,
shall be fined in accordance with title 18 (which fines shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury, miscellaneous receipts (pursuant to section 3302 of title 31), notwithstanding any other law), or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(Pub. L. 103–31, § 12, May 20, 1993, 107 Stat. 88.)

Fouratt had worked for a number of years as an election worker at the Westbeth polling site in Manhattan, where he came across the party official.

“A stocky, redheaded woman came to my table to qualify to vote. Her name was Emily Giske. I had heard of her. I knew that she was good friends with my City Councilperson, Speaker Christine Quinn. I knew that she had recently moved to 23rd Street on the floor above Quinn. I looked up her name and saw that she had not changed her residential address,” Fouratt recounts.

Jim Fouratt appearing on the Stephen Colbert Show, discussing New York’s history of LGBT political activism and the impacts of the Stonewall Riots.  In 2016, he challenged incumbent Assemblywoman Deborah Glick in the Democratic Party primary. 

“One of the few things that a poll worker is expected to do besides help the voter is to verify that the information in the voter registration book is correct. So I said to Ms. Giske that I knew she had moved and that she needed to give the Board of Elections her new address. She stammered and became quite agitated. I suggested she just make sure to do it before the next election,” he explains.  “She voted.”

“The next time Ms. Giske came to vote, I looked up her name and noted that she had not changed her address. I said to her that I had to challenge her right to vote because I knew she no longer lived at the address listed in the BOE book. She became very, very agitated,” he says.  “I offered her an affidavit ballot that allows the person to vote if they will swear and sign the oath, stating that her residential information is correct in the book.”

“At this point, she raised her voice at me and said, ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ Whipping out her cell phone, she started dialing full of agitation and anger. She held up the voter line. The coordinator came over and asked me what the trouble was. Giske said that I had been rude to her and wouldn’t let her vote. The coordinator then asked me what happened and I explained. The coordinator told me to go back to my table and asked Giske to step outside,” he recalls.

“About an hour later, the coordinator returned to my table and said to me, ‘Emily has something to say to you.’ Giske loudly said, ‘I’m sorry that I caused a commotion.’ But under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear she said, ‘You will never work here again.’ I don’t know if she voted by affidavit. I don’t know if she voted at all but it was quite an upsetting experience for me,” he explains.

The controversial Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has jurisdiction to investigate much of Giske and DeRosa’s ongoing election practices, but Governor Kathy Hochul publicly threatened to unilaterally remove Bragg from office earlier this year, which critics say had a chilling effect on the office.

“When the next election rolled around, I noticed I had not received a BOE assignment. So I went down to the BOE on Varick Street in the West Village, asking that my work status be validated by a BOE official. He looked in the book. The man commented that, ‘this is very strange because it is written ‘do not have him work,’ hand-signed by Keen Berger, District Leader.’ He said he had never seen anything like that before and assigned me to a different location. When I saw Berger, I asked her why she had done this. She denied it. I suggested she go to the BOE and look herself,” he remembers.

“Then I found out who Giske was—not just a close friend of Christine Quinn’s. Giske was also very also active in the State Democratic Party. In fact, she was (and I believe still is) the Vice President of the Democratic Party in New York State,” he explains.  “I also learned, to my shock, that she is a high six-figure salaried lobbyist working for clients while wearing the hat of an officer of the State Democratic Party.”

Progressive activists have been calling on Emily Giske to resign her position as Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Party.

Giske’s client list includes Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and a number of national LGBT advocacy organizations. Fouratt was shocked that a full-time lobbyist could be the Vice President of the Democratic Party in New York State.

“When Bernie Sanders first started talking about why things are so messed up politically in our system, he talked a lot about the role of lobbyists and elected officials. Giske was also the ‘best friend’ of every single out elected official in Albany and the City Council,” he says.  “She handed out, or should I say ‘donated,’ campaign funds to all of these electeds.”

“In my view, Giske is the most powerful (yet unknown to the voters) LGBT person in politics in New York State,” he asserts.

“Deborah Glick,[who is a lesbian], has accepted monies from special interests as well as from wealthy donors, such as the lesbian entrepreneur and millionaire Joy Tomchin,” Fouratt alleges.  “I don’t know if they were gifts, or they collaborated to support lobbying efforts, or were simply campaign donations.”

“I know that Glick has used her campaign funds to pay off her AMEX bill,” he adds.

Glick has accepted special interest money from political action committees representing professionals that she, in her committee work, is in charge of licensing and regulating.

Deborah Glick had been the right-hand woman of the now-imprisoned former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represented lower Manhattan beginning in the mid-1970s.  Glick, conspicuously, has never spoken out against corruption issues in Albany that have surrounded her and her colleagues.  She has since erased from public record her relationship with Silver and her defenses of him.  At the time, she was widely described as Silver’s ‘enforcer’. 

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