Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara today announced the conclusion of the investigation into alleged Election Law violations associated with the 2011 Onondaga County Republican Party primary process. The Oneida County District Attorney’s Office was assigned as special prosecutor in this matter by order of Hon. James C. Tormey, III., dated December 19, 2011.
Just as with a case originating within our own jurisdiction, this matter was evaluated and a charging decision made after taking into account various factors, including but not limited to:
- The availability of evidence;
- The reliability of such evidence;
- The persuasiveness of such evidence;
- The applicability of existing law to the conduct at issue;
- The extent to which such evidence renders provable, each and every element of the applicable statute or statutes, and
- Whether or not there is a reasonable likelihood of proving the guilt of the suspect beyond a reasonable doubt, before a fair and impartial jury.
After a thorough investigation and interviews with all relevant parties, this matter is closed without resort to criminal prosecution. While the investigation revealed certain irregularities and questionable conduct, it did not uncover clear criminality on the part of any individual within the scope of the investigation. In particular, the investigation found apparent violations of the Onondaga County Republican Party’s internal rules and bylaws, resulting in a technically flawed committee vote. Such apparent rules violations do not, within the context of the facts of this investigation, rise to the level of criminal conduct. Additionally, these violations had no practical effect upon either the outcome of the committee vote or the subsequent primary election. Moreover, any potential prosecution would be fatally compromised by the necessity to rely upon a single fact witness with serious and substantial credibility problems. It is the good faith belief of this office that even if an arguable criminal charge could be substantiated from the available evidence, the same would never withstand scrutiny of trial. The ethical obligations of a prosecutor do not permit the bringing of criminal charges on such insubstantial and specious bases.
The decision reached today is not entered into lightly. It is without question that open, fair primaries and elections are a critical prerequisite to a representative, democratic government, the laws of which serve the ends of justice and are reflective of the will of its citizenry. Crimes that seek to undermine the integrity of the election process are offenses that serve to weaken the very foundation upon which such a democratic society of laws is based. However, as prosecutors, we must operate within the confines of our ethical rules as well as our legal jurisdiction. Within the circumstances of this incident, a criminal prosecution would clearly exceed those limitations.
Considering the totality of the circumstances presented in this case, it is clear that any criminal prosecution of this matter would fail in two respects. First, there is insufficient credible evidence to clearly establish each and every element of a criminal charge and therefore constitute a prima facie case. Secondly, even if the former were not the case, the quality of the proof is such that there is not a reasonable likelihood of proving the commission of a crime by any individual before a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt. Due to considerable media coverage and reporting upon the fact that this investigation was initiated, this press release is issued for the limited purpose of bringing closure to speculation in that regard.