Shapiro, who has repeatedly downplayed Republicans’ allegations of vote fraud in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, revealed on Wednesday that Philadelphia political consultant Rasheen Crews duplicated more than 1,000 signatures on petitions in order to get his clients’ names on Democratic primary ballots in 2019 Philadelphia city elections.
Crews’s clients reportedly denied that they knew about his illegal activities.
As the state’s attorney general, Shapiro announced he would be charging Crews with criminal solicitation to commit forgery and theft by failure to make required disposition. He was arrested on Wednesday.
“By soliciting and organizing the wide scale forgery of signatures, the defendant undermined the democratic process and Philadelphians’ right to a free and fair election,” Shapiro said in a statement. “In advance of the 2023 municipal elections, this arrest is an important reminder that interfering with the integrity of our elections is a serious crime.”
Crews has consulted for dozens of state and local candidates in Pennsylvania. Shapiro even hired him in 2016 when he was running for attorney general, paying him $2,000 for his services, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Several other higher-ranking Pennsylvania Democrats have also worked with Crews. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pa., paid Crews $19,075 starting in 2016, hiring him for grassroots organizing, “voter contact,” and “petitions” in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
Shapiro denied allegations of malfeasance in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, claiming he saw “no evidence” of widespread fraud.
“Certainly if there was some, we would be on it immediately or our law enforcement partners would be on it immediately,” Shapiro said shortly after the election.
“I’ve seen a lot of tweets about it,” he continued. “I’ve seen a lot of public statements about it, but we’ve seen absolutely no evidence of it.”
A judge ultimately ruled that then-Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a fellow Democrat, violated the law by ignoring the state’s mail-in voting statutes and instead crafting her own policies.
However, Shapiro refused to pursue a case against her, and the courts only permitted one to proceed after the election had ended.
Boockvar ultimately resigned her post amid an unrelated ethics scandal. However, her successor, Leigh Chapman, was caught sending out more than 250,000 mail-in ballots to unverified voters ahead of the election, helping to secure victories for Shapiro and Sen.-elect John Fetterman.