If the name Kelly Taylor sounds familiar, it should. We blogged about the North Tonawanda resident in January after she was charged with six counts of petition fraud. Taylor allegedly signed witness statements on nominating petitions for Congressional candidate Jack Davis containing signatures she did not actually gather herself. Unfortunately, Taylor was just one of several individuals that has been charged with similar offenses over the past few years.
I'll take a step back to give a bit of history. At one point, Taylor was quite close with Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera, often acting as a "gopher" for Rivera. The two had such a close working relationship that Rivera arranged for a job with the Niagara County Board of Elections for Taylor.
Rivera and Taylor subsequently had a falling out and Taylor went to work for the Davis campaign. Her work with the Davis campaign ultimately lead to the charges of petition fraud that were levied against her. It was Rivera that asked Niagara County District Attorney Mike Violante to initiate an investigation into Taylor's petitions.
What differentiates this case is the manner in which it was handled by law enforcement. Those who were also charged with petition fraud (Bova, Lenhart, Reister), were phoned by law enforcement to come down to the police station to discuss the charges. Taylor, on the other hand, had North Tonawanda Police show up at her home, handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a police car. All of this in front of her family. For Taylor, it was likely the most humiliating moment of her life.
So why the differentiation in the police handling of the cases? Because Rivera conspired with North Tonawanda Mayor Larry Soos to arrange for the public humiliation of Taylor. Soos, at the behest of Rivera, used the North Tonawanda police to send a political message to Taylor from Rivera that if you mess with him, you will get burned.
This has created an even deeper divide within local Democratic circles. Jack Davis is livid with both Soos and Rivera, and is reportedly paying for a lawyer for Taylor. Even worse for Rivera, Davis, who gave the Niagara County Democratic Committee $30,000 in 2007, is rumored to be so infuriated with Rivera that he is considering aligning himself with the local GOP. This means that not only will the local Dems not be getting a portion of Davis' huge bounty, those dollars may very well be flowing to the campaign coffers of the GOP. That's a $60,000 swing.
The Dem candidates really need to think about that the next time Rivera decides to play hardball. They, once again, will be the ones who will pay the price when they don't have enough funds to see them through their elections.