Add shady political consultants to the list of “independent” U.S. Senate Candidate Rob Sobhani’s growing list of questionable relationships.
According to Sobhani’s July FEC filing, his campaign paid California-based Arno Political Consultants over $47,000 for signature gathering fees and expenses.
According to a 2007 report from the left leaning Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Arno has been involved in several fraud cases in seven states. Allegations include submitting petitions with forged signatures, using bait and switch tactics to get signatures, and submitting petitions with signatures from deceased voters.
In Massachusetts, a paid signature gatherer for Arno duped petition signers into thinking they were petitioning to allow grocery stores to sell wine, when in fact they were signing a petition to put Massachusetts’ law allowing gay marriage on the ballot.
Sobhani hired Savanna Communications to manage his petition campaign, which subcontracted signature gathering to Arno according to Tony Marsh, a partner at Savanna Communications. Marsh said he was unaware of the history of fraud allegations against Arno. In the video above, the Massachusetts group that hired Arno gave the same answer when asked about fraud allegations against the company.
Here is a copy of the talking points petitioners used to pitch for signatures. The sheet contains many of the same wildly implausible promises as Sobhani’s television ads. It also states that Republican candidate Daniel Bonigno has less than $50,000 in the bank. However, Bongino’s latest FEC filing shows he has raised nearly $500,000.
Sobhani needed 37,128 valid signatures to get on the ballot. According to the Maryland State Board of Elections he turned in 77,376 signatures. The board rejected 22,792 signatures, a 30 percent rejection rate. Of those rejected signatures over 14,000 were from people not registered to vote.
These numbers alone don’t prove fraud has occurred. However the rejection rate is significantly higher than three of the petitions that made it to the ballot this year, the Dream Act, gay marriage, and redistricting.
Given Arno’s shady past it might be worth a little bit of the Bongino campaign’s time to inspect the signatures on file at the board of elections.