A Democrat operative and former Atlantic City council president was arrested last Thursday, February 1st, after being the alleged mastermind of a mail-in ballot fraud operation in the New Jersey city. The alleged individual, Craig Callaway, was working at the time for the Jeff Van Drew re-election campaign. The former Democrat-turned-Republican in 2020 denied any knowledge of the operation.
From the New Jersey Monitor:
U.S. Attorneys accused Callaway and other unnamed subordinates of paying Atlantic City residents between $30 and $50 to act as authorized messengers and request mail-in ballots for voters whom they had never met. Prosecutors allege that those ballots were later cast without the actual voters’ knowledge.
The charges appear to stem from work Callaway did for Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s 2022 reelection campaign. There’s no indication Van Drew (R-02) knew about the alleged scheme.
Rep. Van Drew reportedly paid Callaway’s consulting firm $65,500 for “strategic consulting”. Just under one-third of that fee, or $25,000, was paid in October just before the 2022 election. Van Drew had previously paid Callaway’s firm $110,000 in his 2020 re-election campaign as well.
Callaway is facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted on the charge of “procuring, casting, and tabulating fraudulent ballots”. But this wasn’t the first time the former Atlantic City council president faced criminal charges. He’s been convicted twice before on corruption-related charges. According to the New York Times and reported by the New Jersey Monitor:
The charges are not the first Callaway has faced. In 2006, he admitted accepting $36,000 in bribes from a contractor he helped to obtain city contracts. In 2008, he admitted guilt in a separate blackmail scheme targeting an Atlantic City councilman while serving the sentence of his bribery conviction.
In 2017, Assemblyman Don Guardian, then the city’s mayor, accused Callaway of a similar ballot harvesting scheme to boost Frank Gilliam, who won the election but resigned in late 2019 after pleading guilty to wire fraud over the theft of $86,000 from a youth basketball team he ran.
“It’s no secret that candidates from both parties have hired Callaway in the past to help them win elections. Those who hired him cannot plead ignorance now. Everyone in Atlantic County knows exactly what Callaway’s operation is and the blatant illegality of it all,” said Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman.
Rep. Van Drew, who won New Jersey’s 2nd District in 2022 by 19 percentage points, denied any knowledge of the scheme and referenced an agreement he had signed with Callaway’s organization to prevent this type of activity.
According to The Press of Atlantic City, Callaway is “known as an expert at getting out the mail-in-ballot vote.”
In 2018, New Jersey passed an expansion of their “motor voter” law, which automatically registers individuals who obtain a drivers license. The expansion allowed state agencies to register voters as well. These include the Office of Disability Services, the Parole Board (upon completion of sentence), the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, and beyond.
Automatic voter registration laws, passed in at least 11 states and Washington DC, create an almost unlimited source of voters for bad actors to manipulate in the way Callaway is alleged to have. Especially when bad actors obtain access to voter roll updates in real-time under the guise of stopping Get Out The Vote messaging once a voter casts a ballot.
In the 2020 election, the Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration (MCELA), a non-profit founded by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the recipient of $12.04 million in “Zuckerbucks” from David Becker’s CEIR in 2020, gained exactly this type of access.
The President of the MCELA, Jen McKernan, told Michigan radio host Tracy Samilton, “once you vote, all those groups urging you to get to the polls will be informed by elections officials that you’ve done it, and the messages will cease.”
With this real-time access to updates, a bad actor would know who voted, but more importantly, who didn’t vote.
People who didn’t vote in an election rarely, if ever, check with their elections offices to ensure they didn’t vote. For example, this woman from Illinois, who was shocked to find out she’d voted in numerous elections, despite claiming Trump’s 2020 election was her first time voting: