Top New York Election Lawyers Cannot Recall Anyone Ever Prosecuted for the NY Election Law Being Used to Try to Turn Trump’s Hush Money Payments into a Felony

Business Insider confirms what I suspected:

Now, Manhattan prosecutors now say an old, rarely used section of the state election law is their favorite on the menu of potential underlying crimes.

“As the court is aware, falsifying business records in the first degree requires an intent to commit or conceal another crime,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on Tuesday.

“The primary crime that we have alleged is New York state election law section 17-152,” Steinglass told the judge, lifting into prominence an arcane measure that had previously played only a supporting role in the case.

“There is conspiracy language in the statute,” the prosecutor said, “The entire case is predicated on the idea that there was a conspiracy to influence the election in 2016.”

Business Insider asked two veteran New York election-law attorneys — one a Republican, the other a Democrat — about the law, also known as “Conspiracy to promote or prevent election.”

Neither one could recall a single time when it had been prosecuted.

“I’ve never heard of it actually being used, and I’ve practiced election law for 53 years,” Brooklyn attorney and former Democratic NY state Sen. Martin Connor said of section 17-152.

“I would be shocked — really shocked — if you could find anybody who can give you an example where this section was prosecuted,” agreed Joseph T. Burns, attorney for the Erie County Republican Committee in Buffalo, New York…

Falsifying business records requires proof of at least an attempt to commit an underlying crime to be a felony.

But what if that underlying crime is section 17-152 — conspiring to mess with an election through “unlawful means?”

Things will get “twisty,” Connor said, when prosecutors try to show that Trump’s falsified business records are felonies because of an underlying crime — 17-152 — that itself needs proof of a conspiracy to do something “unlawful.”

“You’re having an underlying crime within an underlying crime to get to that felony,” Connor told BI….

Proof of an intent to violate any of these three laws would be sufficient to satisfy Section 17-152. And once you prove 17-152, you have the underlying crime you need to raise misdemeanor falsifying business records to a felony.

It’s important to remember that Trump is only charged with 34 counts of this one crime: felony falsification of business records, said election-law scholar Jerry H. Goldfeder.

Trump is not charged with actually committing any of the underlying state and federal laws required to prove felony falsification.


So prosecutors have no legal obligation to prove he’s guilty of any of these underlying laws, 17-152 included, said Goldfeder, senior counsel at Cozen O’Connor and author of Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law.

“They only have to prove he intended to commit these underlying crimes,” which is a far lower bar, said Goldfeder, who also directs the Fordham Law School Voting Rights and Democracy Project.

“I think it’s a very viable case,” he told BI.

“And the testimony so far demonstrates that Trump intended to pursue this catch-and-kill scheme and to falsify business records to cover it up — and did so to influence the election,” he said.

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