ASSEMBLY 25 | Winners of the 25th Assembly District delegates election say Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski’s office is attempting to overturn the results, which critics say will disenfranchise many of the Fremont and Santa Clara County minority groups whose opposing slate of candidates successfully won 9 of the 12 seats two weeks ago.
At issue is at least 40 non-Democrats and decline to state voters who may have been among the over 400 votes cast Jan. 12 when party faithful chose all-important delegates to the next two Democratic Party convention. Candidates often run on slates under the direction of party leaders. They also underscore the importance for some forward-thinking elected officials, like Wieckowski, who have an eye on procuring crucial party endorsements for future runs for higher office. Most believe Wieckowski will run for the state Senate in 2014 after four years representing the Fremont area in the Assembly.
However, Wieckowski’s slate of candidates was nearly swept away this month–a serious, but not fatal blow to his reputation. Now critics are labeling an attempt to overturn the results led by his firebrand Chief of Staff Trisha Tahmasbi as sour grapes. Wieckowski’s office filed a complaint with the party’s Compliance Review Commission on Jan. 18 seeking to overturn the election and allow for a re-vote. The deadline to submit testimony and evidence is Tuesday, Jan. 29.
In the complaint, signed by Wieckowski and Alameda County Democratic Party chair Robin Torrello, among others, it claims chatter Jan. 12 among attendees that some without the party’s affiliation had already voted. This led a group to sample the credentials of ballots already cast. The letter alleges over 40 non-democrats registered a vote, a clear violation of party bylaws.
Some of the winners, however, say the Tahmasbi’s allegations are hypocritical since most of non-Democrats were brought in by Wieckowski’s office and actually voted for the assemblyman’s slate of candidates. “After we won, the assemblymember’s chief of staff did not like the results and retroactively called for voter registration to be checked,” the group of winners said in an email to party officials. “This is rank hypocrisy because many of the illegitimate voters were ones that voted for the assemblymember’s slate.”
The group was also upset when Tahmasbi allegedly erupted in anger the same day and threatened to alert the state Attorney General to prosecute ineligible voters for perjury. They also believe she should be censured for her alleged actions. “Many of the Asian American voters who have heard about this are dismayed, frightened and intimidated. They are concerned about the impact to their reputations when they feel they are innocent and have been maligned for no fault of their own.”
On Monday, Tahmasbi said the allegations are “completely ridiculous and contradictory.” “Why would we encourage non-democrats to turnout for a democratic delegate election, and then threaten to pass their names along to the Attorney General’s office for voter fraud?” said Tahmasbi. “One can easily see the absurdity in those dueling accusations. We had nothing to do with either.” She also believes none of the non-democrats who may have voted did so maliciously, but were misinformed about the rules.
One winning delegate, who chose not to be identified, said the convener of the election was alerted the Friday before about rumors the Wieckowski slate might bring non-democrats to the vote. The convener downplayed their concerns, they said, but upon arriving at the hall, some were surprised to also see members of Wieckowski’s staff facilitating the election process. “We have been cheated by the assemblymember and stabbed in the back by his chief of staff,” said the delegate of the district’s large Asian American constituency.
Several sources say they believe Tahmasbi’s actions are unwittingly undercutting her boss’s reputation in south county and Santa Clara County even as many of the non-Wieckowski delegate winners are among some of his strongest supporters. Tahmasbi’s arm-twisting has caused tension in the Fremont area as recently as last September when some supporters of Fremont Councilwoman Anu Natarajan, then running for mayor against the fellow Councilman Bill Harrison, blamed Tahmasbi for their candidate losing the party’s endorsement.