Sanders backer sues Clinton, Galvin over Super Tuesday shenanigans
By Evan Lips | April 1, 2016, 19:25 EST
BOSTON — A Bernie Sanders supporter is taking former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State William Galvin to federal court, alleging that the husband of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee illegally campaigned for his wife in Massachusetts on primary day.
“This goes beyond hubris,” said Kathleen Cody, the plaintiff, when reached by phone Friday. “People are forgetting why our voting laws are important.”
Cody demands in her lawsuit that the court “invalidate” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s narrow victory in Massachusetts and award all of the state’s 91 pledged delegates to Sanders.
One of those persons who Cody believes has “forgotten” about state voting laws is Galvin, who determined days after Clinton was photographed inside polling locations in Boston and Newton during Super Tuesday that the former commander-in-chief was not soliciting on behalf of his wife and did not break state law.
Massachusetts laws prohibit voter solicitation inside polling locations: “Within 150 feet of a polling place…no person shall solicit votes for or against, or otherwise promote or oppose, any person or political party or position on a ballot question, to be voted on at the current election. No campaign material intended to influence the vote of a voter in the ongoing election, including campaign literature, buttons, signs, and ballot stickers, may be posted, exhibited, circulated, or distributed in the polling place, in the building where it is located, on the building walls, on the premises where the building stands, or within 150 feet of an entrance door to the building.”
Cody has not retained an attorney and filed the lawsuit on her own behalf. She noted in her filing that she has the support of a group that refers to itself as Massachusetts Sanders Voters and Volunteers Disenfranchised by Bill Clinton.
Ralph Lopez, a Cambridge resident who describes himself as a digital journalist and has had his work published in outlets ranging from the Boston Globe to the Daily Kos, is listed in Cody’s complaint as a group member.
Reached Friday, Lopez said voter disenfranchisement is what lies at the heart of Cody’s lawsuit.
“The race was so close that Bill’s (Clinton) appearance could have tipped the scale,” Lopez said. “There’s nothing ambiguous in the law about being 150 feet away from the polling location.
“You have this person, Bill Clinton, photographed inside polling locations sporting a cat-that-just-ate-the-canary smile.”
Cody claims in her lawsuit that Clinton’s activity on Super Tuesday resulted in a dilution of the total vote, which narrowly tipped his wife’s way by a scant 1.4 percent or roughly 16,800 votes.
“The narrow victory in this closely watched race, deemed ‘critical’ for each candidate, bolstered the Clinton candidacy in future primaries, making this a live and active issue to the present day,” Cody’s filing states. “With 100,000 undecided voters and a margin of victory of only 16,800 votes, it is imminently possible that Bill Clinton impacted the final result.”
Cody also disagreed with Galvin’s statement declaring that the former president’s presence inside polling locations was not illegal as long as he did not actively urge voters to cast ballots for his wife.
“This notion is beyond absurd,” Cody noted. “The former president did not land at ground zero of a key battleground state and enter the polls because there was no place else to get a cup of coffee.
“Bill Clinton does not need a button or a sign. In his very person, the presidential candidate’s fabulously famous husband amounts to a walking, talking sign for Hillary.”
Cody also claimed that Clinton’s appearances on Super Tuesday “served to demoralize Sanders workers who now became convinced that no matter how hard they worked, a person of Bill Clinton’s stature, with the trappings of his former office and with the tacit cooperation of Massachusetts election officials, could always reverse that work, and prevent them from reaping the fruit of any labor performed by their candidate.”
The anger among Sanders’s supporters prompted one backer to launch an online petition calling for the former president’s arrest. The petition has garnered nearly 125,000 signatures since its launch.
Lopez said that even voters who do not support Sanders should feel disappointed with the former president’s antics and the way that state election officials handled the allegations, which also included claims that Clinton’s motorcade during a stop in New Bedford effectively served as a barrier for voters.
Earlier this week Boston Magazine published a report analyzing emails between Clinton’s staff and New Bedford city officials exchanged ahead of the former president’s visit. The emails showed that Galvin’s office contacted the city to remind officials that Clinton was to remain at least 150 feet away from the entrance of the Buttonwood Park polling location.
One email sent by the Secretary of State’s Election Division to the New Bedford city solicitor’s office relayed a voter’s complaint about being unable to access his polling location as a result of Clinton’s presence.
Lopez, asked how he would respond to those who would label the lawsuit as being driven by a ‘sore loser’ attitude, said the presence of Bill Clinton was not inconsequential.
“And most of all it’s a matter of whether the law gets applied equally to everyone,” Lopez said, adding that he hopes Cody’s complaint will fold itself into a class-action lawsuit while pointing out that the $400 court filing fee was paid for via dozens of donations. “A punitive measure would discourage this kind of future behavior.”
“I would also say that this wasn’t one of those things of ‘Bill just being Bill — we think this was a carefully calculated move that happened to work in Hillary’s favor.”
Read a copy of the complaint here: