Everett State Representative Stephen “Stat” Smith has agreed to plead guilty to civil rights violation, after the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed charges of voter fraud against Smith last week.
As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, Smith has already agreed to give up his seat as State Representative, effective January 1, 2013. He will also be banned from seeking elective office for five years from the date of his sentencing. No sentencing date had been announced prior to the Independent’s holiday deadlines.
According to the indictment Smith, who was first elected to the statehouse in 2006, submitted fraudulent absentee ballots in 2009 and 2010, in an effort to bolster his re-election efforts.
Under the plea, Smith admitted that he had allegedly obtained absentee ballots for ineligible voters who would cast them for him, or he would allegedly cast them himself. In some cases he apparently even obtained absentee ballots for registered voters who did not know that he was voting in their names.
Prosecutors allege in the filing that Smith may have had help from “one or more government officials,” but those officials were not identified in court records and prosecutors did not say how many fraudulent votes were cast in all.
Attempts to obtain a comment from Smith were unsuccessful.
In a brief statement about the case House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, said the charges against Smith were “disappointing,” and that “Massachusetts voters have the expectation and right to vote in fair and open elections.”
North Reading Republican Brad Smith was more direct.
“Good riddance,” said the House Minority Leader. “He disgraced his city and the institution he served in.”
In the wake of Smith’s conviction and his departure from the legislature, Everett and Malden residents can expect a Special Election to fill the remainder of Smith’s term. Though it is too early to say when that election will be held, state election laws call for a special election to fill a vacancy within 160 days of the vacancy occurring if there is at least a year remaining in the open term. Since Smith just won re-election in November and was set to begin a new two-year term in January, it is likely that Secretary of State William Galvin will call for such an election before the end of May.
There is also likely to be a long list of interested and qualified candidates from the city of Everett alone, especially in light of the change in government next year (January 2014), when the city’s Board of Aldermen and Common Council will be dropped in favor of a single 11-member City Council.
Alderman Robert Van Campen’s name always seems to pop up on any short list of local officials who may seek higher office, but one local insider said that as many as four other Everett aldermen may be interested in the seat as well, including John McGonagle, Millie Caredllo, Michael Marchese and Michael Mangan. Additionally, former Mayor John Hanlon was mentioned by one local source as someone who possibly has interest in the seat . Hanlon ran for the seat against Smith in 2010. Current Councilors Rosa DiFlorio and Michael McLaughlin are also said to be considering a run. Lastly, School Committee member Joseph LaMonica may be a potential candidate as well.