Via NY Post:
Four well-heeled New York Democrats are under investigation by an Ohio prosecutor for setting up a temporary home in the swing state – where two have already cast their ballots – just so that their votes will be counted there, The Post has learned.
The targets of the probe – including the daughter and son-in-law of a New York City real-estate titan, a former New York Sun reporter and a Bank of New York Mellon executive – are connected to Vote From Home, a Manhattan-based political action committee set up to get voters to the polls in Ohio, where residents are allowed to cast ballots 29 days before Election Day, investigators said.
The New Yorkers and nine other members from across the country are accused of packing themselves into a modest three-bedroom house in Columbus, waiting 30 days – and then registering, even though the Buckeye State is not their permanent residence.
Under Ohio law, a person who comes to the state for “temporary purposes only,” without the intention of making it the “permanent place of abode” is not considered a resident. New permanent residents must live in Ohio 30 days before registering.
Four group members, including two of the New Yorkers, have already cast ballots, and six others requested absentee ballots from the county elections board.
Franklin County, Ohio, prosecutor Ron O’Brien launched the investigation after student reporters at palestra.net, a Fox News affiliate, discovered the mass registration effort at the home in a working-class neighborhood on Brownlee Avenue.
“Our board of elections referred 13 suspicious registrations to us, all from people with out-of-state addresses, all of whom claim to be living in a three-bedroom house in Columbus,” O’Brien said Friday.
Vote From Home is registered to the East 82nd Street brownstone of Heather Halstead, daughter of Halstead Properties founder Clark Halstead Jr. She and her husband, NYU grad Marc Gustafson, are among those under scrutiny.
A subsequent Post review of election-board and other records found the New Yorkers involved are:
* Joel Speyer, 39, a New York CPA who lives in Brooklyn and works for Mellon bank here. He owns the Brownlee Avenue house and rented it to Vote From Home in June for an undisclosed period for $2,500, Federal Election Commission papers show. Speyer is a registered New York voter and cast a ballot in February’s primary. He re-registered in Ohio Sept. 1, and last week voted absentee.
* Halstead, 34, and Gustafson, 31, both longtime New York voters. Halstead last cast a ballot in the state’s February primary. Gustafson voted in Manhattan in 2007. Both requested Ohio absentee ballots.
* Daniel Hemel, 23, a Harvard grad and former Sun reporter from Scarsdale, Westchester County. He registered to vote in Ohio Oct. 1, casting a ballot the same day. Hemel later returned to Oxford University in England, where he and other Vote From Home workers attend as Marshall Scholars.
* Also under investigation are three daughters – Jennifer, 20, Tania, 21, and Michael Anne, 24 – of Brooklyn resident David R. Kyle. He is CEO of a firm that raises money for schools in India and is one of two major financial backers of the PAC. The three women, whom records show most recently lived in the Washington, DC, area and Connecticut, have requested absentee ballots.
The Brownlee 13 also includes a Cornell University grad from Los Angeles and a Marshall Scholar from Arizona who have both cast their ballots.
“We’ve done nothing wrong,” Halstead told The Post Friday when contacted at her New York apartment. “It’s a nonissue. It’s all been settled.”
Not according to O’Brien. While he is “willing to give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said he is still probing the group’s “intent surrounding the registrations.”
“I think they mistakenly believed that by residing here 30 days, they met the residency requirement for voting – and perhaps they felt that casting a vote in a battleground state would be more effective than wherever they came from,” O’Brien said.
He said the investigation will look at “surrounding facts” – including whether the new voters have applied for Ohio licenses, changed their car registrations, or signed leases.
Adele Shank, a lawyer who represents all in the group except Hemel, said she has “no reason to believe” that her clients registered in Ohio in order to vote in a swing state.
Halstead, Shank said, is in New York only “for a short trip” and “plans to return to Ohio.”
Shank said her clients “thought they had met the residency requirement.
“They did not have the [election] code in front of them when they registered, and there was no disclosure of it on the application,” she said.
On its Web site, the PAC – which includes many Ivy Leaguers and Rhodes, Truman and Fulbright scholars – boasts of its “extensive experience with political organizing, election administration and Democratic politics.”
Hemel did not respond to a request for comment.
Voter fraud is a felony in Ohio, punishable by up to a year in jail. The Vote From Home members have previously registered as Democrats. In Ohio, they registered as “unaffiliated.”