CNY Central has learned exclusively that an Onondaga County grand jury is investigating a political race amid allegations a county job was promised in exchange for gathering campaign support.
S ources have provided us a copy of a grand jury subpoena provided by the D istrict Attorney's office. The subpoena pertains to the 2011 primary race between republicans David Knapp and Robert Cox. It is the 12th district based in Pompey and Lafayette.
The investigations centers around questions about petitions filed by Robert Cox to get on a third party line in the race for the legislature seat. The objections claim the petition was filled with invalid names. CNY Central spoke with Cox, who says he properly obtained the signatures.
"The people that I got were registered voters (on the list from the county board of elections," Cox said.
H e tells us also received help in gathering the signatures from people who work for County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
Sources claim one of the people gathering signatures was rewarded with a job in county government. We are not naming that person, but we did contact him. He is working for the county but denies he did anything wrong. Contacted by phone in Washington DC, Mahoney tells CNY Central that the allegation of offering a job to rig an election is "absolutely not true."
Mahoney says she's heard rumors of an investigation within the Republican party, but our calls to her office is the first she's heard of any subpoenas being issued. Mahoney says she believes those behind the allegations may be "people who have a grudge."
Referring to Cox's failed attempt at re-election, Mahoney said it was the first time in Onondaga County history that the Republican party did not endorse a County Executive's appointment. Earlier this year Mahoney appointed Cox to fill the legislative seat in the 12th district when it was vacated. The Onondaga County Republican Committe threw its support behind Dave Knapp.
D istrict Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says he cannot comment on any pending, possible or potential investigation but when asked about the specific investigation number said, "We have had a matter referred to us that we have been working on for several months. I will not discuss the target or targets or potential charges.I'm not going to attack someone's reputation who may be completely innocent."
Helen Kiggins Walsh, the republican elections commissioner for Onondaga County, says after the objections were filed, Cox lost the republican primary and declined the independent line so her staff did not look into the matter any more at that point.
Dave Knapp did not return our calls.
CNY Central will continue to follow this developing story.