Remember the complete and utter fiasco known as the Arlington “change of government” petition, sponsored by something called the “Committee for a Better Arlington?” Well, now one of the petition collectors has pled guilty to voter fraud:
William Cockerham pleaded guilty in Arlington Circuit Court yesterday, the Washington Post first reported. He was accused of making false statements on a required form, a form of voter fraud.
As an ex-con, Cockerham was ineligible to sign as a witness on petition forms. Nonetheless, prosecutors say he signed off on forms that he circulated and on forms that other people circulated, which is also prohibited.
At the time, Cockerham was working for a Colorado-based firm called Signature Masters, which had been hired by Arlington’s police and firefighter associations to thousands of gather signatures in order to get a proposal to change Arlington’s form of government on the ballot. So far, the company’s managers have not been accused of criminal wrongdoing.
So here are my two main problems with this: 1) I don’t believe that someone’s status as an EX-convict (did their time, paid their debt to society, now free) should continue to be held against them, whether it’s the right to vote or the right to collect petition signatures; and 2) I find it utterly unfair, offensive, and even outrageous that the worker bee(s) who were directed (and paid a pittance) to collect these petition signatures are in trouble, while “the company’s managers have not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Sorry, but that is not the way it’s supposed to work in America, let alone in (generally) progressive Arlington County.
Oh, by the way, the campaign manager for this absurd petition drive was an individual named Dena Kozanas, who “did double-duty as a notary for more than half the submitted petition sheets, in violation of the conflict-of-interest provision in the code of conduct for notaries in the state of Virginia.” Clearly – and at the bare minimum – Kozanas must have been well aware of the fraud that was being perpetrated by the worker bees reporting to her. Yet, she’s off scot-free? Not only that, but Kozanas was elected (in April 2010, at the same time that the change-of-government petition effort was gearing up) to the “Leadership Team for the 2010-2012 cycle” for the Fairfax County Republican Committee. In her Republican leadership role, Kozanas serves as “FCRC Membership Services Committee.” I wonder if that includes collecting petition signatures. (snark) I also wonder if that includes going to bat for her former employees, now in serious trouble for efforts conducted under her supervision. (more snark)
P.S. Great reporting by ArlNow, which by far and away provides the best coverage of Arlington. Basically, if you want to know what’s happening in Arlington, read ArlNow!