Prison, Fine and a Federal Ban Behind Him, Stat Smith Wants Back in the House

Friday, May 11, 2018

What does it take to run again for the same public office you resigned from because you manipulated the balloting process and were going to prison?


A compulsion for vindication?

Whatever it takes, Everett’s Steve “Stat” Smith apparently has it in spades.
In December of 2012, Smith agreed to plead guilty to civil rights violations and resign from the Massachusetts House of Representatives (28th Middlesex District) for his role in submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications and casting invalid ballots in multiple elections in 2009 and in 2010.

In April of 2013, Smith was sentenced to four months in federal prison for two misdemeanor counts of voter fraud, ordered to pay a $20,000 fine, and prohibited from running for public office for five years.
I remember talking to a friend in Everett at that time, someone who knew Smith well and who talked with him after his sentencing but before he reported to prison.  This is what he told me:

“Stat says he’s running again.  That he’ll be back (in office).”
“Could he get elected again?” I asked.

“Yes. He could,” said my friend.  “People have short memories.  And do they really care about this kind of cheating?  But who knows?”
We are about to find out.

The Secretary of State’s office told the Everett Independent that Smith took out papers needed to run for his old House seat on Friday, April 13.
“Smith has been seen over the past weekend,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday, April 18, “gathering signatures and talking with longtime supporters. Those close to the matter indicated he had gathered as many as 500 signatures over the weekend.”   

At the time of Smith’s guilty plea, here’s what Lanny Breuer, then an assistant attorney general of the Commonwealth said:
“Representative Smith compromised the legitimacy of his races for public office by facilitating the casting of invalid ballots for ineligible and unaware voters.  In doing so, he undermined the democractic process in Massachusetts and violated the public’s trust.”

Carmen Ortiz, then the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said:
“Fair and free elections are the foundation that this great nation was built upon.  Our electoral system is unrivaled, and it is egregious that an elected member of our Commonwealth would rob his constituents of a fair and honest election.”

Richard DesLauriers, then the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, said:
“Over the last two years, the FBI methodically uncovered a voter fraud scheme designed to strip Massachusetts voters of their right to a fair election.  Representative Smith, who was a member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws, embarked on a scheme that he knew violated the ideals of our nation and disregarded the proud history of the Commonwealth.  Whenever the pillars of government administration – equity, efficiency, and effectiveness – are undermined by corrupt public officials, the FBI will focus on those responsible.”
  • Compromised legitimacy of his races. 
  • Robbed constituents of a fair and honest election. 
  • Embarked on scheme that violated ideals of our nation.
These are the ready-made bullet points for the campaign literature of the two persons standing in the way of Stat Smith's political comeback, Rep. Joseph W. McGonagle, Jr., and Gerly Adrien.

Politically, Everett has always been a rough-and-tumble place.  Being an Eagle Scout has never been a pre-requisite for holding elective office there.  Smith's candidacy is not a joke in Everett and McGonagle will never treat it that way.  McGonagle knows he's in a fight for survival, not only because Smith knows how to handle himself in the political arena but also because there are three candidates in the race.  Gerly, who ran well in a losing race against McGonagle two years ago, could siphon enough McGonagle votes to give it to Smith.

I doubt it will go that way.

McGonagle has done a good job and is popular in his district and in the State House both.  The Speaker and other members of leadership like him and will want to help him as much as they can behind the scenes this spring and summer.  (BTW, the Speaker and his team are not crazy about the idea of having Smith back in the building.)  

McGonagle serves on five different legislative committees, including Ways & Means, which controls the state budget, and the Joint Committee on Housing, of which he is the House vice chair.  He will be able to make the case that he's in position to do more for the City of Everett and its citizens than either of his opponents could, Smith because of the baggage he's carrying, Gerly because she would be a rookie rep.

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