Voter Fraud May Have Changed Beverly Hills Expansion Project Outcome

Opponents of a narrowly approved expansion project for the Beverly Hilton property said today a five-month probe uncovered 569 cases of illegal voting in the election.

Larry Larson, treasurer of the Citizens Right to Decide Committee, said information in a thick three-ring binder would be presented to Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and state Attorney General Jerry Brown this week for further investigation.

Larson declined to show the contents of the binder to reporters, saying "even fraudulent voters have a right of privacy."

Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, said she had no comment because her office had not received any information.

Scott Gerber, director of communication in the attorney general's office, told City News Service that "when they submit this information, we will take a close look at it."

Corinne Verdery, senior vice president of Oasis West Realty, which owns the Beverly Hilton property, said "the allegations made today have nothing to do with the Beverly Hilton or the Measure H campaign."

"The people of Beverly Hills have spoken in the last election and supported this project," Verdery said. "We stand by the results of the election."

Beverly Hills voters approved Measure H, to permit construction of two condominium buildings and a WaldorfAstoria hotel on the Beverly Hilton property, by a 129-vote margin out of 15,815 votes cast last November.

Project opponents hired two full-time investigators and had volunteers go door-to-door beginning Jan. 2 in an attempt to uncover fraudulent voter registrations, Larson said.

The investigation determined that there were 352 people registered to vote where they did not live; another 204 registered at a business or a post office box address; four people registered multiple times; four others voted multiple times; and five deceased people "voted," Larson said at a news conference outside Beverly Hills City Hall.

"If we had more money and ... more time, we believe we could have found more than 1,000 phony voters who voted in November," Larson said.

Examples of the improper registrations included children of current and former elected officials who supported the proposal registering at addresses where they did not live and about 100 voters registering at a mail drop near the campaign headquarters of the measure's supporters, he said.

Justin Levitt, counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice, a voter rights organization, said claims of voter fraud "are easy to make, but don't often pan out. There's not a lot fire behind the smoke."

"It's really easy for the rhetoric to get inflated pretty quickly," Levitt said in a telephone interview. "To the extent that they're just referring cases for other people to follow up on, that's entirely proper and there should be follow-up and we should see what happens."

Larson said his group is not attempting to overturn the election results -- the deadline to file a lawsuit to do that has passed -- but want an official investigation be conducted and lawbreakers punished.

"We are asking our lawmakers to protect us and fulfill the responsibilities that they have accepted as our elected officials," Beverly Hills Mayor Nancy Krasne said at the news conference. "Jerry Brown, Steve Cooley, all we're asking is please do your job."
 

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