On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Dutchess County Democrats sent a letter to Dutchess County District Attorney Bill Grady asking for a fair, impartial and thorough investigation into what appear to be acts of perjury by Dutchess County Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight.
On January 15, 2021, Commissioner Haight emailed District Attorney Grady and urged him to investigate any allegations of illegal conduct by himself or former Commissioner Elizabeth Soto.
We wholeheartedly agree.
Commissioner Haight appears to have intentionally misled the court during a lawsuit adjudicated in September and October of 2020 and that deserves an investigation, just as Haight requested.
“To allow someone in charge of our elections to lie to the court with impunity, without opening an investigation, would be unconscionable,” said Elisa Sumner, Chairperson of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee. “Our democracy is too fragile to look the other way.”
In an October 23, 2020 decision ordering the Dutchess County Board of Elections to relocate a voting site to Bard Campus, State Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa referred to a statement previously made by Haight:
In opposition to the petition Elections Commissioner Eric Haight submitted an affidavit stating that the election was too close in time to enable a change in the polling site that would be fair to all voters in the 5th District including by giving them timely and effective notice of the change. This court relied upon Commissioner Haight’s assertions in this regard including that notification of a new polling place at this late date would likely cause voter confusion and result in voters going to the wrong polling place.
In fact, simultaneous to Commissioner Haight’s claims that it was too late to move the District 5 location, plans were underway to change other locations. Less than 24 hours after Judge Rosa’s original decision on Oct. 13, Commissioner Haight agreed to move two other voting locations within Red Hook. In reversing her initial decision issued on Oct. 13, Judge Rosa is clear that she relied on the validity of Haight’s assertion (emphasis ours):
The basis for this court’s decision and order has now been eliminated since the primary factor identified by Commissioner Haight and relied upon by this court was simply untrue. Apparently there was, and is, time to move the polling place for District 5 in Red Hook. The court notes that Commissioner Haight submitted no affidavit in opposition to this motion. Only his attorney’s affirmation was provided.
During the Oct. 28 hearing of Appellate Division Second Judicial Department, Justice Leonard Austin of Nassau County characterized Rosa’s take on Haight’s affidavit as a lie perpetrated on the court (at minute 36):
“I think part of the problem was that the Judge felt that your side was lying to her. That it’s impossible to do. In fact, she used that word in her decision, on renewal: ‘They said it’s impossible, I bought it and then you turned around and changed one or two other districts…’”
Separately, in his appeal to the Appellate Court, Commissioner Haight’s attorney David Jensen affirmed:
Yesterday (Sunday), Respondent Commissioner Haight drove past the “closed” signs that surround Bard’s campus and attempted to inspect the Student Center as a polling place. Security forced him to leave campus, notwithstanding his attempt to explain that he was from the Board and was attempting to inspect a polling place.
An affidavit from the head of security at Bard states that Commissioner Haight was stopped by security after returning to his vehicle and that he refused to identify himself. This is a second and separate instance of making a false claim to mislead the court by mischaracterizing Bard College’s security staff as hostile to his visit.
We have asked the District Attorney to heed this bipartisan call to investigate Commissioner Haight.