THE BRONX — Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo engaged in voter “suppression,” “intimidation” and other illegal tactics with the help of her ex-con grandson to win re-election, a lawsuit by one of her scorned opponents charges.
Housing advocate Maximino Rivera, who lost his primary challenge to Arroyo on Sept. 13, wants the results of the contest tossed out because of what he describes as “grievous conduct” by his opponents, including “voter intimidation, rampant electioneering” and “effacement of Board of Elections materials,” according to a lawsuit filed this week in Bronx Supreme Court.
Rivera said his opponents, Arroyo and Charles Serrano, interfered so much at poll sites that police officers were compelled to stop them.
"In some instances, representatives from the New York Police Department were compelled to stop these activities," he wrote in the suit, which described candidates shaking hands with on-duty poll workers and offering “valuable things, and food and beverages to voters as an inducement."
The suit also charges that candidates parked vehicles emblazoned with campaign posters directly in front of polling stations, and used amplified speakers to prompt voters to support them. The claims will come before a judge at hearing next Monday morning, Oct. 1.
Among the most egregious are charges that Arroyo, a near 20-year incumbent, benefited from her connection to two federally-subsidized Bronx apartment buildings, where building staff confirmed that several polling booths were placed.
“A particular candidate has been quoted as stating that she ‘never lets anyone in her buildup unless they vote for her,’” reads the suit, which charges that Arroyo maintains connections to two Mott Haven properties that used to be run by her grandson and former campaign manager, Richard Izquierdo Arroyo.
Izquierdo Arroyo spent a year in the slammer after he was found guilty of embezzling more than $100,000 in cash from the non-profit that oversaw the buildings, which had also received thousands of dollars in public cash from Arroyo's daughter, City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.
The suit also accuses a candidate, which he identified as Arroyo in an interview, of flouting the law by going door-to-door the day before the election and “intimidat[ing]” seniors and other vulnerable New Yorkers to fill out absentee ballots in her favor.
Arroyo's office did not return repeated calls and emails for comment about the allegations. Serrano could not be reached.
But Miriam Rodriguez, the president of a company called Innovative Property Management, said that the two buildings mentioned in the suit were transferred to her by the feds after the indictment, and insisted that they now have “absolutely no connections” with the Arroyo family.
Nonetheless, State Board of Elections records show the company contributed $500 to Arroyo’s campaign — its only political contribution in recent years.
Records also show that Izquierdo Arroyo, who recently got out of federal prison, was placed on his grandmother's payroll and received more than $200 for fundraising on her behalf.
In addition to his charges against the candidates, Rivera's suit also accuses poll workers of acting improperly, including entering voters’ voting booths without being asked, and “intimidat[ing], direct[ing] and guid[ing] and menac[ing] voters to select a particular candidate."
In addition, Rivera said that a sample ballots hung on the wall at certain poll sites “were defaced and marked with markings identifying a particular candidate."
He also alleged a slew of irregularities which were observed in other districts, including confusion caused by voters being sent to the wrong poll sites and too-small ballot type.
Arroyo swept the primary, winning 52.6 percent of the vote to Rivera's 25.5 percent.
But Rivera told DNAinfo.com that, had the election been fairly fought, he believes he would have won.
“Oh yes, it would have been different," he said. "I thought if you got on the ballot and ran an honest campaign, people go and cast their ballots."
"Next time we will be more prepared," he said.
The Board of Elections, which is also named as a defendant in the suit, voted this week to mail out an extra round of notices directing people to their poll sites and to increase the font size on the November election ballots.
A BOE spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.