After Marcus Paca stopped paying her to help him become mayor, Priscilla Knox switched sides — and became the central witness in an allegation of fraud.
Knox, an unemployed Edgewood resident with a résumé of campaign work and criminal convictions, signed an affidavit submitted to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to support allegations that Paca’s campaign broke the law in collecting signatures of voters to qualify for the Sept. 12 Democratic mayoral primary election ballot.
In the process, she fulfilled a promise she said she delivered to Paca if he ever “play[s] with my money”: “I’m going to fuck you up the ass with no grease, and it’s gonna hurt.”
The campaign of Mayor Toni Harp, the party-endorsed Democrat who’s seeking a third term, put together and submitted the complaint, including the affidavit Knox signed.
The Harp campaign’s deputy manager, Rick Melita, submitted the complaint to the SEEC on Aug. 31.
It details allegations that signature-gatherers like Knox had members of a household sign the names of other members who weren’t home.
“After reviewing petitions submitted by Marcus Paca,” Melita wrote, “the Harp Campaign has discovered numerous discrepancies that require attention from your office. We also believe that, based on sworn affidavits that we have obtained, further investigation into this matter is required. If our understanding of the facts is correct, then there have been very serious violations of Connecticut’s elections laws by the Paca campaign.”
Paca denied all the allegations. He called the Harp campaign’s complaint “a laughable, desperate attempt by the Harp campaign to prevent a competitive election that thousands of city voters have demanded.” He also said he is collecting affidavits from “city employees, elected officials and citizens” who state that they experienced “intimidation and harassment by the the mayor’s office” on connection with the campaign.
“Harp’s campaign is obviously very nervous about the Sept. 12th primary,” Paca stated.
The SEEC complaint lists a number of alleged violations, including an accusation that some Paca supporters collected signatures on petitions that were then submitted and signed by other people who claimed to have circulated the petitions. But the heart of the complaint — the allegation that potentially impacts hundreds of signatures — centers on Priscilla Knox. And on an aspect of political campaigns that rarely emerges into broader view.
By both Knox’s and Paca’s accounts, Knox first worked for Paca when he ran for alder in 2009 in the Edgewood neighborhood’s Ward 24. He defeated 11-term incumbent Liz McCormack in a primary that year and won the seat, serving a two-year term before losing to a different candidate, Evette Hamilton, in 2011.
Back then, Knox was enamored of the vision Paca articulated, she recounted in an interview Wednesday on the porch of her Elm Street residence. “He had big dreams for this ward,” she said. “I instantly got on his team. We worked and worked and worked and beat Liz McCormack,” a 22-year fixture in city politics.
Knox said Paca paid her only $50 for working on that campaign, less than she’d expected. “I let it go, because that was his first term,” she explained. “I figured we’d get him another term, and he’d get everything in order.”
But Knox quickly soured on Paca. She said he stopped coming around her part of Edgewood. “He did nothing for the streets,” she said. “How can you expect me to be knocking on doors and you’re not visible? It’s not possible. I can’t do all the work by myself.”
“I busted my behind for him, because he was not around,” Knox said. Paca lost in the Democratic primary, earning 228 votes against Hamilton’s 312. (He then attempted to win as a write-in candidate in the November general, but the state ruled none of the submissions counted.) Paca paid Knox $100 that year, she said.
When 2017 rolled around, Knox claimed, Paca asked for her help, a claim the Paca campaign rebuts, saying Knox came asking for a job. She recalled feeling that Harp would win the race anyway, but she agreed to do it for some extra cash. “I did it for the money, not because I believed in him,” she said. “Any bit of money comes in handy.”
Here’s how Knox remembers the conversation, she told the Independent: “I said, ‘Marcus, listen. Don’t play with my money. Because if you play with my money, I’m going to fuck you up the ass with no grease, and it’s gonna hurt. Don’t play with my money.’ He was like, ‘Priscilla, you know I got your back.’ I said, ‘OK,’ and he said, ‘I already got money I’m saving to pay everybody.’ I said, ‘Fine.’”
Paca said in an interview this week that he hired Knox to give her a chance because she has had personal struggles. He said she is the only petitioner his campaign paid.
“She told me she was in dire need of money. I help people when they ask for help if I can. She was the only person who got paid for signatures. Everyone else was volunteers. The only reason she got paid was because I’m compassionate,” Paca said. “I care about people I wanted to help her. It goes to show: You can’t help everybody.”
Unemployed, Knox said she has disability insurance for the lung disease she got from smoking cigarettes. “I’ve done drugs, and I’ll be the first to admit it,” she said. “But I’ve been clean since 2008. If they want to pull a urine or a hair sample or whatever they want, they can pull it. I don’t got nothing to hide.”
“I have no drug charges on my record, ever,” Knox said. “Not one. I have a lot of assaults and breach of peaces, and I was doing prescriptions for people before, but I have no drug charges.” According to state court records, Knox has been convicted for several misdemeanors, including prostitution in 2008 and breach of peace in 2012; she was also found guilty of misdemeanor possession of an illegal drug in 2014 and felony forgery and possession of narcotics in 2015. She received conditional discharges for all the offenses, meaning she didn’t do jail time.
In negotiations over her work for this year’s mayoral petition drive, Knox said, Paca agreed to pay her $500, although he didn’t specify exactly what she needed to do to earn that sum. On the first day of canvassing, Knox remembered Paca “making a deal” with her. “He said, ‘Priscilla, if you get me 100 signatures today, I’ll look out for you.’ When I called his wife Mendi [Blue], I had 140 signatures, because I know how to do this and I do it damn well,” she said.
For the next two weeks, canvassing from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Knox collected two dozen pages of petitions. How many were double-signed? “A lot of them,” she said. “I don’t know how many, but I know it was a lot of them.”
According to Knox’s statement, written and notarized on Aug. 23, Paca instructed her to collect multiple signatures from each individual, by asking them to add their own name to the petition and then forge it for others, so long as they knew the person’s name, date of birth and address.
“He told me it was okay to have people double-sign,” Knox said in Wednesday’s interview with the Independent. What’s that mean? “If you already signed the petition for [Paca] to get on the ballot, sign it again,” she explained. “You got a sister and a brother and an aunt and an uncle? You can sign their names, too.”
That was illegal, Knox knew, she said in Wednesday’s interview. In fact, the petitions she signed state in a bold all-capital letters: “IT IS A CRIME TO SIGN THIS PETITION IN THE NAME OF ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO SO.” Knox said she followed her boss’s orders. “He said that to me one time, and I did what he said,” Knox noted.
One example: Knox said she asked LaQuita Norris to sign twice, adding an extra line for her mother, Janette Menafee, who lives on the other end of Pendleton Street. On Wednesday afternoon, through a front door she refused to open, Menafee told the Independent that she didn’t sign anything and doesn’t plan to vote this year. In the evening, in a phone conversation with the Independent, Norris admitted that she’d signed for her mother, and she apologized. “I didn’t think it was a big thing. I’m thinking like they need time to collect signatures, to help them out,” she explained. Norris questioned whether the law is too strict. In another context, she added, “If I was [my mom’s] responsible party, which I am — there’s not something wrong with her or anything — they would have told me to sign.”
“That’s on her. That’s not on me,” Paca said of Knox Thursday when told of that example. “I didn’t tell her to do that.”
According to her affidavit, Knox convinced someone to double or triple their signatures on almost every one of the 26 sheets — about 600 names — that she filled out for the Paca campaign, gathered from the Edgewood neighborhood, Bella Vista high-rises and Whalley Avenue commercial corridor.
Didn’t she ever worry about getting in trouble for breaking the law? “No. [Paca] can get in trouble, not me,” she answered. “I ain’t running for mayor; he is.”
A review of Paca petitions on file at the City Clerk’s office showed that Knox signed and submitted 31 pages of signatures, most of them with all 20 lines for signatures filled out.
After she completed her work, Knox and Marcus ended up in a dispute over her payment.
Knox said she was told that paychecks were supposed to be ready at Paca’s Grand Avenue campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 9, at 4 p.m. — the filing deadline for all petitions. Instead, a guy met her in a Walgreens parking lot later that evening offering $65, she said. Knox called Paca, and eventually got the guy to hand over $200.
Knox flew into a rage. “I worked for it; it’s mine,” she recalled. “My damn feet hurt plenty of days walking and knocking, back and forth.” She ripped the Paca sign from her front lawn and “flung that shit so far across the street I didn’t care where it landed,” she said. “It’s not my fault you and your damn wife got fired from the mayor’s office and you got no damn job. But you ain’t gonna bullshit me out of my money. It ain’t gonna work for me, and it damn sure ain’t gonna work for you.”
She aired the dispute on social media: A Facebook post from that Thursday evening that’s still up reads, “[F]ake ass candidates never WIN as long as I’m around.”
Paca called Knox down to headquarters the next day to write her a check for an additional $120, the last installment to come through, she said.
Paca this week denied Knox’s version of events. He provided the Independent with a “contract for services rendered” (pictured below) that has a signature from Knox. It states that she “was paid in full” a total of $400, for her work plus $100 for expense reimbursements. The payment is confirmed in the latest campaign finance disclosure statement Paca’s campaign filed this week.
As promised, Knox sought to make Paca pay for the money dispute.
Knox contacted Harp’s campaign to tell her story. Melita (who is on leave from his job as a Harp administration legislative liaison) paid her a visit. Knox told him about how Paca allegedly told her to have people sign on behalf of family members.
“He said he was going to pay me between 500 and 550, and he didn’t do it. He gypped me,” Knox told Melita. “He gave me $320 altogether.”
Melita recorded their conversation. Here’s how part of it went:
Knox:Everybody was doing it. And he knew of it. Can I get a job with Toni Harp? I need a job.
Melita:Let’s deal with this first. Then we’ll figure it out. I can’t make any promises. Let’s deal with this first and see what we can do.
Just to be honest with you, on the back of that page, where you had to sign it yourself? You saw where it says I did this correctly?
Knox:Yes. Everybody signed the back of their page.
The pair did go to a nearby bank to have a written statement notarized, and it became part of the SEEC complaint.
Click on the above audio file to hear the full recorded conversation.
Meanwhile, Knox has put a Harp sign in front of her home. She said Wednesday that she agreed to the SEEC statement so “the world would see that Marcus Paca is full of dog shit.”
What would she do if Paca covered the money she claimed that he still owes her? “If he paid me, I’d take it. I would and tell him to go straight to hell right after,” Knox said. “I already told everybody in my neighborhood, if you vote for him, you’re gonna turn into a pillar of salt.”
For $10 an hour, Knox works 20 hours a week for the Harp campaign, she said. At this week’s mayoral candidate debate, Knox took a seat close to the stage, so she could be seen “clowning” her nemesis, she said. Her latest taunt: “He talked, ‘We’re trying to get new jobs.’ How you gonna get new jobs when you can’t even pay me, when I worked for you to get on the ballot?”
The Harp campaign failed to meet a deadline to this week to file its latest campaign finance disclosure report, which would have included records of payments to Knox.
Melita confirmed that Knox is on the campaign payroll.
“She was hired after the affidavit,” he said. “There was no quid pro quo. We are not paying her to testify against Marcus.”
The Harp campaign’s SEEC complaint also alleges that at an event on Aug. 6 at Lincoln-Bassett School, a Hamden man named Edward Jefferson circulated a petition for Paca’s campaign and obtained the signature of Claudine Chambers (a city paraprofessional workers union president). The petition submitted to the Registrar of Voters had the name of a female circulator, not Jefferson’s name. The SEEC complaint includes a signed statement by Chambers that a man obtained her signature. It also includes a statement by Harp campaign supporter (and deputy city community services chief) Sheila Carmon that she observed Jefferson obtaining the signature. The complaint also includes a photo of him collecting signatures. The SEEC complaint includes a third allegation, that a city employee signed a Paca petition circulated by the sister of the person who actually submitted and signed it as the supposed circulator.
In denying the allegations, Paca noted that Carmon donates money to Harp and works for her in City Hall.
Edward Jefferson could not be reached for comment. His wife Nichole, a former city Commission on Equal Opportunities (CEO) chief who filed a state labor complaint against Mayor Harp for firing her, released a statement on their behalf.
“This complaint continues a pattern of harassment against my family by the Toni Harp Administration. The State of Connecticut Appeals Referee determined that the Administration engaged in a ‘witch hunt’ against me,” Nichole Jefferson wrote.
“I am very concerned that a top-ranking official in her Administration and large campaign donor followed my family and I around taking pictures of us in private settings. I will be contacting my lawyer to discuss any violations of our personal privacy rights that the Harp Administration may have violated. Their continued harassment and intimidation is personal and relentless. I continue to pray that this entire ordeal will soon be over. The harassment, the character assassination and the everyday division of our community must stop.”
The Jeffersons did not respond to a question of whether not Edward Jefferson obtained Chambers’ signature on a petition that a different alleged circulator signed.
The SEEC does not comment on complaints it receives until deciding at a board meeting whether to launch an investigation. Its next scheduled meeting is Sept. 20.
Melita said the Harp campaign is not “at this time” seeking any injunction or planning to take any further actions on the issue before next Tuesday’s primary.
Paca, for his part, vowed that “my campaign will not allow this intentional distraction to keep me from addressing the issues of New Haveners.”
This whole ordeal is a complete mess. This election is getting pettier and pettier.
posted by: FacChec on September 7, 2017 6:22pm
This is the most scurrilous story based on the actions of a fraudulent voter circulator, who readily admits that she signed off with fraudulent signatures. “According to her affidavit, Knox convinced someone to double or triple their signatures on almost every one of the 26 sheets — about 600 names — that she filled out for the Paca campaign, “That was illegal, Knox knew, she said in Wednesday’s interview. In fact, the petitions she signed state in a bold all-capital letters: “IT IS A CRIME TO SIGN THIS PETITION IN THE NAME OF ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO SO”. The Secretary of state’s office outlines on the petition affidavit the rules Knox readily violated.
How is that over 600 alleged fraudulent signatures collected by Knox could get by and be accepted by the Registrar and city clerk’s office?? When at the same time the candidate primaring for probate court was caught last week by the registrar’s office with only six (6) alleged fraudulent signatures.
Whether Knox was told by Paca to perform this fraud is irreverlent, the petition signed and certified by Knox clearly says she swore under oath and penalty of fine, that the signatures she collected were lawful. A similar complaint was filed to the SECC against city clerk Mike Smart three years ago and thus far has gone unanswered.
With Knox’s admitted crime in full view the Harp Campaign under Rick Melita confirmed that Knox is on his campaign payroll. “She was hired after the affidavit,” he said. “There was no quid pro quo. We are not paying her to testify.
This is gutter snipe politics by the Harp campaign.
posted by: robn on September 7, 2017 6:40pm
Ms Knox isn’t being very clear. Can she give us a few more details about what she intends to do to MrPaca if he “plays with (her) money”?
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 7, 2017 6:45pm
This is why the collecting signatures and Absentee Ballots must go.Look at the state of Louisiana which is one of the easiest states to get on the ballot. Anyone may obtain a spot on the ballot by either paying a qualifying fee, or submitting petition signatures. In Japan signatures are rarely used. Instead, every adult has multiple seal/stamps which are used to stamp documents in the same way as a signature is used. Someone possessing your seal can stamp your name as your proxy. Stamps that were used for important transactions like buying a house or getting married are usually locked away in a secure place. Local governments have a register of seals & issue certificates of authenticity. They keep an image of the registered seal electronically and can verify whether a seal is the same one that was registered at another location in the country. Also Louisiana has what is call nonpartisan blanket primary.Which is a primary election in which all candidates for the same elected office, regardless of respective political party, run against each other at once, instead of being segregated by political party. Under this system, the candidates receiving the most and second-most votes become the contestants in the general election—as in a runoff election, in a two-round system. In some cases the second round of voting is necessary only if no candidate receives an overall majority on the initial ballot. However, there is no separate party nomination process for candidates before the first round, and political parties are not allowed to whittle-down the field using their own internal processes , party primaries or conventions. Therefore, it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same political party could advance to the general/run-off.In fact this systems is also used in some countries that use proportional representation.Notice no party primaries or conventions.Under this system you do not need the crooked ward committees. We the voters pick the candidates.
posted by: westville man on September 7, 2017 7:13pm
This is utterly embarrassing for all of New Haven on many fronts. SMH Robn- LMAO!!
posted by: Westville voter on September 7, 2017 7:14pm
Is there any way that we can get “none of the above” as a choice on the ballot? Given the current candidates, it would be a landslide.
posted by: Brutus2011 on September 7, 2017 7:40pm
Embarrassing it is ...
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 7, 2017 7:59pm
According to state court records, Knox has been convicted for several misdemeanors, including prostitution in 2008 and breach of peace in 2012; she was also found guilty of misdemeanor possession of an illegal drug in 2014 and felony forgery and possession of narcotics in 2015. She received conditional discharges for all the offenses, meaning she didn’t do jail time.
James Brown - King Heroin (Late Night Tales: Franz Ferdinand)
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on September 7, 2017 8:09pm
Shame on Melita and Team Harp for this ugly attempt to disenfranchise New Haven voters. It’s embarrassing, to the point where I’m ashamed I voted for Toni.
Please, let’s have this election, allowing us, the voters, to decide who we want for Mayor.
posted by: U.need.more.people on September 7, 2017 8:18pm
Why am I not the least bit surprised :/
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 7, 2017 8:50pm
Ladies and gentlemen of New Haven, voters all, behold the newest member of the Harp campaign team! It is apparent that someone who says, “I’m going to fuck you up the ass with no grease, and it’s gonna hurt.” and a political mercenary who says, “I did it for the money, not because I believed in him” is now the newest employee of TEAM HARP! Most smart and experienced campaign adviser would tell their boss not to touch this person with a ten foot pole, but not the harp campaign. They see this as their big opportunity to have an election without competition, the coronation the Democratic party leaders and Toni Harp wanted from the beginning. This is a desperate attempt to subvert democracy in New Haven, and the Harp campaign is now complicit by hiring, no rewarding, this person with a position in the campaign! This is all about credibility, judgment, integrity, discernment, truth, justice, fairness, democracy, choice, and the will of the people. We will see how this all pans out, but whenever mud and sewage are thrown, the filth and the stench tend to remain etched indelibly on the hands of those who pick up the crap to throw it and the odor is too difficult to camouflage, no matter how much perfume is sprayed.
posted by: denny says on September 7, 2017 8:53pm
Going to write in Justin Elicker.
posted by: Inside 165 on September 7, 2017 8:58pm
It’s amazing how far the Harp administration will reach down to the very bottom of the barrel to find someone to make a desperate attempt to derail her opponent. Knox so obviously attempted to engage in a shakedown of Paca is pathetic that she gets quoted. Clearly Ms.Knox offers nothing to our City but Harp and her do nothing staff will put her on the payroll. I wonder what she does for her $200 a week? The same as most of Jarps cronies I’m sure, nothing!
No quid pro quo? Yeah right. The first question Knox asks says it all. Knox should be arrested, again. She willfully violated the law. But in what might amaze anyone not familiar with the Harp administration she’s hired by them.
Aside from Harps unremarkable mayoral record and the slew of payoffs she had to and will have to make with taxpayer money for her unlawful employee decisions she is the laughing stock of Connecticut.
Can’t wait until the shell game is over and we are getting Ms. Knox’s prescribed treatment when our tax bill comes due. Mark my words.
posted by: HillNorth on September 7, 2017 9:01pm
When an individual A GROWN ADULT individual says the following… “In the process, she fulfilled a promise she said she delivered to Paca if he ever “play[s] with my money”: “I’m going to fuck you up the ass with no grease, and it’s gonna hurt.” ‘ She is telling me exactly who she is and I cannot read one more word. Anyone in this day and age who uses this sort of vulgar language to express themselves is insane if they think they will be treated fairly. The message is lost because of the messenger.
posted by: 1644 on September 7, 2017 9:07pm
Brian Jenkins comment on Carchia was: The Carchia camp did not feel comfortable investing in black people (who live in NH) to circulate his petitions. Folk would’ve lined up at his headquarters to circulate petitions easily for pay. In fact, for the amount of money he paid (?) these alleged crooks, he may have saved some money had he invested his resources on the streets.
Regardless of whether the woman was lying then or is lying now, Paca hiring of her reflects poorly on him. After all, she was a convicted forger! Harp made a lot of bad hires, including Paca, but this hire is worse! What would his staff be like as mayor?
posted by: robn on September 7, 2017 9:12pm
In other news, the Harp administration touts its economic development prowess and jobs record by citing New Havens newest production facility…built for the unexpected peak in market demand for grease.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 7, 2017 9:27pm
I refuse to sully the character of Ms. Knox, for she’s done a good job of doing that herself. But here’s what I find interesting, the Harp team rolls her out like James Comey did Hillary, five minutes before the election, with the hope that the Paca campaign will hemorrhage. Guess again.
The Harp campaign is running scared of this young man. When I read the story I couldn’t help but to laugh hysterically at the content. The woman admitted to committing a crime and what does the Harp campaign do? Correct. They hired her on the spot.
Remember New Haven voters, Toni said that Marcus was her worse hire ever. Now what does that tell you about this mayor’s political judgement?
Personally, I’m stunned that Toni would stoop so low. This episodic mess reveals to the entire city the degree in which this mayor will go to get elected.
This embarrassing stunt will most assuredly backfire on the Harp team.
posted by: Noteworthy on September 7, 2017 9:34pm
Lying and Lack of Character Notes:
1. Knox is a criminal, a self described liar and has zero proof or credibility that Candidate Paca told her to do anything illegal.
2. Knox is desperate for money and will say and do anything for the money. That she would use that ghetto language and have that attitude is all that one needs to know.
3. That Mayor Harp and her campaign will stoop to this level is not surprising - in fact it is in perfect keeping with her style. Make wild allegations, denigrate somebody’s character and integrity - in order to get what she wants. That is what she did to Paca as an employee; to his wife as an employee and to Nicole Jefferson as an employee.
4. This story disgusts me and is certainly beneath the office of the mayor. Harp is the Donald Trump of New Haven. 4.
posted by: Latina on September 7, 2017 9:41pm
New Haveners wake up! Harp isn’t perfect but is not this sneaky. Besides she is connected with the state senators. Why would people want Pacca over Harp? No comparison!! This is shameful if this is accurate. Harp it is!!
posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 7, 2017 11:56pm
If the writers at The Onion and Mad Magazine had a child, she would be Priscilla Knox. Paca’s hiring her could only be an outstanding case of “no good deed goes unpunished.” Fortunately the Harp campaign has a fresh supply of compassion and cash to keep Ms. Knox busy.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 8, 2017 12:13am
A Self-Proclaimed Political Saboteur—She said it, not me…....
posted by: LookOut on September 8, 2017 1:50am
its embarrassing to see how politics runs in our city. How can either of these campaigns justify giving money to this person?
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on September 8, 2017 7:25am
What a vicious state of affairs New Haven is in. Absolutely repulsive all around.
posted by: Razzie on September 8, 2017 8:55am
Robn—I love the way your comments go right to the heart of the matter ...
This whistleblower story shows us New Haven’s dark side of electoral politics. Both campaigns hired this one person based upon their respective assessments that she is very good at what she does (which is deliver what they need most at the time they most need it).
But of course there is no voter fraud! Unless people want to use photo I.D.!
There are some GREAT quotes in this article…
posted by: Downtown Linda on September 8, 2017 9:54am
Justin Elicker please come and save us. So Team Harp welcomes criminals and liars; Paca hires them. Local politics at its most disgusting. Shame on all of you, we deserve better.
posted by: TheMadcap on September 8, 2017 9:57am
I am also now writing in Justin Elicker after reading this hot mess
posted by: AJENT3 on September 8, 2017 9:59am
This is New Haven politics as usual. Its funny how these allegations are coming out just a few days before the primary. Stop all the games and let whom ever is going to win…...win without the tricks. Even if the allegations are true I’m sure the other camp has done some shady stuff and just hasn’t been caught. Sometimes I wonder why I moved back to New Haven
posted by: HewNaven on September 8, 2017 10:16am
Perhaps, the classiest opening every, Mr. Bass! Well done!
posted by: robn on September 8, 2017 11:13am
Few things can hurt a candidate more than allegations of fraud…Ms Knox is one of those things.
posted by: HewNaven on September 8, 2017 11:40am
I LOVE the idea of writing in “Elicker”
posted by: Critical Thinking on September 8, 2017 12:17pm
@Razzie, Your comment is confusing to me. First, are you suggesting that Knox is a credible individual? For her to be a “whistleblower” she has to be able to provide credible testimony. It is unclear that even Knox’s self-reporting of alleged wrongdoing can be taken at face value—as she explicitly stated she was willing to do or say *anything* to (i) get back at Paca and (ii) get a job with the Harp campaign. Her testimony on the matter would likely be summarily thrown out of court. A whistleblower she is not. Second, you suggest both campaigns needed a “service” from her on something she is allegedly ‘good at.’ The Paca campaign needed workers to collect two thousand signatures in a short period of time. What did the Harp campaign need from Knox - someone to “cry” fraud, (in return for payment?), so they could make a case to the SEEC to invalidate Paca’s signatures and prevent a primary? I am not a lawyer, but it srikes me there’s something highly problematic, if not illegal in the Harp campaign obtaining the affidavit, them paying the person who completed it. Can any lawyers opine? Certainly Knox has now opened herself to a slew of charges, including extortion and election fraud. This certainly *is not* a shining moment for the parties that, potentinally, could be facing criminal charges.
posted by: Hill Resident on September 8, 2017 12:30pm
This story could have been published without all the foolishness of Ms. Knox and the publishing of her interview with Melita. Her vulgarity is not important except to show that BOTH Paca and Harp should be ashamed for hiring her in the first place. She has ‘ZERO’ credibility when it comes to participating in campaigning for ANYBODY. She admits that she has committed fraud for pay. Her allegations against Marcus Paca (who I am not endorsing) are just that ... allegations. But what is true is that she was hired by the Harp campaign’s deputy manager, Rick Melita - knowing that she committed fraud by obtaining fraudulent signatures for the opponent!!! I don’t know what to do with this information. But it seems the Independent is dipping its toe in sensational journalism. The story would have been a great story without the vulgar quotes from Ms. Knox.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on September 8, 2017 1:36pm
Hill Resident, Hello. I for one think knowing the extent to which an employee of the mayor is capable of publically spewing the most vulgar of all vulgarity is relevant as it reflects what the mayor thinks is legitimate public discourse. If she standing by Ms. Knox, how can we except her to be genuinely civil to any one of us?
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on September 8, 2017 1:40pm
That’s expect. Sorry for the typo.
posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 8, 2017 2:44pm
Ms. Knox is hired as a campaign operative. The article states, and she states, that she made a deal to work as a hired gun. Mercenaries, whose allegiance is bought, are hardly ever known to be “loyal.” But that does not per se make them dishonest. If we take what she says at face value, that she was told to break the law by her boss, who was complicit in the matter, and she does so under penalty of perjury and with potential for criminal sanction by the SEEC, then she should be given the benefit of the doubt.
To be fair, if Mr. Paca submitted over 3,000 signatures and less than 2/3 of the signatures were valid (approximately 60% were valid to 40% invalid), that is problematic and indicate of a pattern of abuse or fraud or lack of understanding the rules. Even if all 600 of her signatures were discounted, that still leaves over 600 invalid signatures - or over 1 of every 5 signatures. The question would then become what is normal for a race of this kind. And how did Mr. Paca and his team not know that 1/5 of 1/3 signatures were invalid before submitting, and whether they should have?
Mr. Paca’s campaign should not be exonerated simply because she was a paid hire or admitted to commiting fraud. That would be like letting off the CEO of a bank who instructed his bankers to commit fraud if they turned around and said they did. We often use the words of criminals, in court - drug dealers, co-conspirators, etc. - to convict masterminds and hire ups. And often those people are incentivized by the prosecuting attorney’s office. So, that she is employed by Harp does not make her less credible especially because Mayor Harp cannot exonerate her should the SEEC choose to prosecute.
If her claims are true, Mr. Paca should be barred from this and the next election. Not from politics for life as everyone is deserving of a second chance, but certainly there should be some repercussion.
posted by: challenge on September 8, 2017 2:54pm
OMG this has got to be the biggest mess in election history. Both candidates hire a known criminal. The criminal is clueless that she can go to prison for what she proudly announced that she did and Harp snatches her up to do what she did for Paca. Obviously Knox has no clue she is being used. I’m sure noone believes that Paca is the first to do the “double dipping of signatures”. It’s beginning to look like Paca and Harp are two sides of the same coin. This is becoming the Clinton vs Trump saga. Prayers for New Haven with all the trickery, corruption and lack of real choice next week. Who do voters choose the pot or the frying pan??
posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 8, 2017 2:58pm
If your comment is to be taken seriously, how could you take seriously Mr. Paca who allegedly paid her despite having a conversation wherein she said she could do unpleasant things to him if she were not paid? To be fair, it appears as though he knew of her and her vulgarity going back to his first two public campaigns and almost certainly knew of her character. Certainly, no one could expect him to behave in a civil manner.
As for the Mayor and perhaps Mr. Paca, President Obama hired Rahmn Emanuel who is oft reported as being detestable and disgusting towards people. No one would likely credibly say that President Obama could not deal civilly with his peers. Similarly, George Bush had Dick Cheney as a vice-president but George Bush was often viewed as civil and someone you’d want to have a beer with. Point is, a person is not their hires.
posted by: Razzie on September 8, 2017 4:06pm
Ms. Knox’s credibility is ultimately going to be decided by the SEEC (if they decide to get off their buts and investigate). But I, for one, am not able to summarily dismiss her allegations as you suggest we should. She has been a campaign worker for Paca (off and on) since 2009; which is a lot longer than she has been hired by the Harp campaign. She has had extensive personal interactions with Mr. Paca, sufficient for him to know what her character and temperament is like. There is no indication that she has ever met Toni Harp personally. Given these facts, I can only surmise that by hiring her repeatedly over a number of years, Mr. Paca knowingly vouched for her character and reliability. It is believable that he knew of her professed “talent” of getting forged signatures: and that that was the express purpose he hired her to do. Without 2,000 +/- signatures during a 2 week period, his campaign was over. Aalong the way, the deal soured and blew up in his face.
Unfortunately the current electoral set up invites election fraud. Everyone knows that the Registrar is incapable of policing signature petitions; and the SEEC being the only investigative body with authority to sanction illegal activities is laughable. [The “Complaint” won’t be seen or heard until after the primary election]. There is little remedy in the current electoral setup that is appropriate to the alleged offenses. Sadly, this system is essentially an “honor” system that relies upon the character, judgement and truthfulness of the candidates to provide a fair and democratic result. As indicated in this, and the probate judge races this season, what we have is a recipe for disaster.
posted by: southwest on September 8, 2017 4:15pm
One would have to be completely out of their mind or desperate to hire Knox after she admitted what she done was illegal and then had the adadacity to ask for a job with the Harp Campaign and they were dumb enough to hire her SMDH ..Rule number#1 that is with people who have common sense. You don’t hire a person when they just admitted to a crimes..because if she did it to Paca she will definitely eventually do it to Harp…who’s making theses “Dumber and Dumber decisions down there ..wow what a freaking circus at city hall !!
posted by: U.need.more.people on September 8, 2017 4:19pm
Paca has been employing this woman since 2009 off and on for his campaign purposes. You know the saying, Birds of a feather flock together!
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on September 8, 2017 5:22pm
@ Atticus & Razzie—you guys really think that at this point next week’s election should be called off? Really? That’s your idea of a functioning democracy? (Pretty revolting, truly.)
Team Harp had their opportunity to review and challenge Paca’s petitions. Now it is time to actually hold an election and to let the voters have their say.
Is Harp’s internal polling really that bad? This ugliness reeks of desperation.
posted by: Almas on September 8, 2017 5:31pm
In response to the below comment: the. WHAT does it mean when the Harp campaign hires he AFTER the fact? Please explain.
posted by: U.need.more.people on September 8, 2017 5:19pm
Paca has been employing this woman since 2009 off and on for his campaign purposes. You know the saying, Birds of a feather flock together!
posted by: Almas on September 8, 2017 5:37pm
This comment bears repeating here, based this newly revealed base level of behavior-
Watching the debate, I was struck by a few things. The vast majority of accomplishments cited by Mayor Harp were either put in place or a result of groundwork laid by the DeStefano administration. These range from the relative fiscal health of the city, developer interest in the city, specific development and infrastructure projects, Project Longevity, and an improvement in graduation rates (she even cited an increase in graduation rates using 2011 as a baseline instead of 2014, her first year as Mayor).
Paca’s energy and enthusiasm impressed me. He also had some good ideas (development and diversification of the local economy, local hiring, collaboration). I am not completely buying the “lack of experience” argument against him, because with all her experience, I am not seeing anything new in New Haven as a result of Harp. Paca’s assertion the she leads from behind may be an apt one.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 8, 2017 5:44pm
@Razzie: Is that what you call “critical thinking”? Looked more like guilt by association and tortured logic. Paca is not the first (or last) person to hire a person on the fringe to carry petitions and get signatures. Despite his advanced degrees, he would have to be this weeks nominee for stupidest human of the year had he instructed Knox to break the law. Her record indicates she knows how to do that on her own. She’s upset that he played with her money, so she turned into a political suicide bomber. Boom! When the SEEC investigates, they will weight the credibility of Ms. Knox against that of Mr. Paca. Any bets on the outcome? This is a well timed diversion, but the election will go forward. We have really big problems and need someone to jump in front of the march and look like a leader.
posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 8, 2017 6:28pm
@AvgTax Nuance is key. I never stated that this election should be called off solely because of an allegation. I said, if her claims are true then he should be barred. In short, if he conspired to commit fraud in an election, he shouldn’t be elected. I would argue the same if any politician conspired to commit election fraud. Whether he did or did not is a matter of fact to be determined by the SEEC. If that can happen before next week or November, then the penalty should speak for itself. Would you disagree and think that if it were proven he committed fraud that he should be allowed on the ballot?
@Almas, If she had solely continued the work of John DeStefano then LWLP would be built by now. JD wasn’t around for Corsair, the alders voted down a new school, and the bike lanes were here ideas. Instituting community policing was her idea and so was youth stat. When John DeStefano left office there were approximately 30 murders that year. At roughly 3/4 of the way through, we’re at 6 this year. That’s on pace for 8. Also, the mayor’s team negotiated more affordable housing as part of the renovation of church street south. And she balanced the budget without selling property to Yale.
Even if all she did was maintain progress, that would be an accomplishment. It’s been roughly 8.5 months since we changed the leader of the USA and our world standing has fallen to a new low. North Korea threatens nuclear war for the first time since the Cold War, and the stock market’s volatility index is going pretty wild. In short, keeping positive momentum for 4 years is tough without the right leadership.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on September 8, 2017 6:31pm
Dear Atticus Shrugged,
Let me try to explain by an analogy. Whenever I come into association with someone who starts to talk disrespectfully of someone I start to worry that that person may do similarly to me when I am not in his presence. I therefore have a difficult time trusting this person. If the Mayor can condone and stand by a person who addresses a fellow human being with such contempt I cannot trust her that she would actually listen to me and not be thinking in exactly the same way as the person who she condones. In such a situation, I would fear that she was merely simulating civility with me. Civility is about manners and rules not force and passion. A person does, or allows to happen, what a person thinks is right. The mayor is the one who is in power and she should condemn the barbarity of her agents as they directly reflect on her as being the principle of our city.
posted by: Bill Saunders on September 9, 2017 2:26am
From what I understand, the Paca Campaign made good on their written contract for payment with Ms. Knox. She still had the grease, and pre-greased the whole works….
Behavior like this rarely happens out of the blue… It happens when you have quietly understood ‘protections’.....
This is a million times shadier than Brian McGrath dragging the disabled person to the polls against his will….. (wasn’t there a fine involved with that as well..)
posted by: Cvaughn on September 9, 2017 7:11am
A classic case from Pookie from New Jack..Vote Paca!!! The Vision speakd for itself.
posted by: Razzie on September 9, 2017 7:56am
What posts of mine have you been reading (or smoking)?
“@ Atticus & Razzie—you guys really think that at this point next week’s election should be called off? Really? That’s your idea of a functioning democracy? (Pretty revolting, truly.)”
Nowhere have I even hinted that the election be called off. If that is what the Harp campaign wanted to do, the remedy would have been to file papers in court in support of the whistleblower’s claims. Put Paca under oath and see if his story holds water.
Personally, I say let’s get this election done so New Haven can move on with the business of governing. The longer this charade goes on, I shudder to think what else is lurking in the background. For better or for worse, Harp has 25 years of open exposure in the public eye. Paca has zero. Sadly, this race is devolving into a clash of character(s) [pun intended]. And in politics, that’s never a good thing.
The primary races this year have highlighted two different schemes for producing fraudulent forged Nominating Petitions. [“Double signing” in the Paca case and “Ghost” signatures in the Carchia case]. This should be a wake up call for significant reform of the Nominating Petition process. As long as we have a threshold requirement for getting on the ballot, we need a process of verifying that signatures are legitimate….And we need harsher penalties than a potential misdemeanor count imposed by an SEEC agency that can’t even investigate its way out of a paper bag.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 9, 2017 11:50am
Team Harp to this day has never repudiated Ms. Knox. No, what this mayor did instead was hire her.
The late Maya Angelou once said “when a person shows you who they are, believe them.” Ms. Knox not only showed the Harp campaign who she was, she also gave them a copy of her resumé, mind you, a resumé that only a prosecutor could love. And Harp still hired her.
Don’t waste your votes by writing in the name of anyone. Vote to remove this administration from office to send them a message that the taxpayers in NH will not tolerate such shenanigans.
posted by: robn on September 9, 2017 6:15pm
Ms Knox’s close circle of friends remain supportive and confident. “She knows the word,” said Danny, Sandy, Kenicky, Rizzo, and Frenchie.
posted by: Acer on September 11, 2017 9:19pm
If this unlawful petition/voter/ID crap happens with what appears to be some regularity in a city like New Haven, image the real possibility of how this might actually be happening in every city all across America. We need not concern ourselves too much with the Russians screwing with the “integrity” of our voting system because we are certainly quite capable of undermining it ourselves. To all those who are so sure that there are no problems in America with the integrity of voting/voter Id, etc., I say “Wise Up”!
posted by: bewildered on September 12, 2017 8:50pm
People like Paca have used people like Ms. Knox to do their dirt for centuries. When confronted with their true selves, they shift in all directions with denials. This man is a cad. And everyone knows it. Stop with the intelligent and nice comments about him. He reminds me of an American Idol candidate with no talent. Lucky for the child, they were loved and encouraged by doting parents. Marcus Paca is not that child; he is no way nice. He needs to find a job and take the Jeffersons with him.
posted by: 1644 on September 13, 2017 6:33am
Be: And now Harp is using Knox, so what that say about Harp’s character? Harp said Paca’s fault as labor relations guy wasn’t his lack of qualifications, but lack of character. Yet Harp hires Knox in an obvious attempt to keep her on side through the election. Personally, I do believe Knox stains all who come in contact with her, and it is she who used Paca and Harp for her own purposes. Harp would have been well advised to stay clear of Knox, but instead, Melita hired her, a decision Harp endorsed.