After having his petition challenged for his bid as Queens District Attorney by candidate Mina Malik, a former deputy attorney general, retired judge Greg Lasak has managed to stay on the ballot for the June 25 primary with 4,975 signatures.
If he had 976 less valid signatures, Lasak, the most conservative contender in the race would have been dropped from the ballot for the district attorney’s race, which requires a minimum of 4,000. The former judge initially filed 8,648 signatures for his campaign.
“We believe this is a misguided attempt to take the only qualified candidate out of this race,” said Lasak’s Campaign Chairman Bill Driscoll, before the April 26 evaluation of the judge’s signatures. “We believe our petitions are valid and they’ll withstand the challenge.”
Another candidate in the DA’s race who was challenged by Malik was Jose Nieves, a combat veteran and former deputy chief for the New York State Attorney General Office in the Special Investigations and Prosecution Unit. He filed 7,824 signatures to be on the ballot and had choice words for the fellow deputy attorney general he called a “regressive undemocratic political trickster.”
“I am the only combat veteran running in the political race for Queens County District Attorney that brings Veteran issues to the forefront of public awareness. It’s sad that Mina Malik seeks to silence a veteran who has dedicated his entire career to duty, service and justice,” said Nieves. “We are in a new day in Queens politics and that meritless petition challenges against experienced former prosecutors will never lead her to be the next Queens District Attorney. See you on primary day!”
Nieves also called Malik’s attempt to knock him off the ballot as “desperate” and “frivolous,” and said she has a “total lack of progressive values.”
“Malik is gaming our system of democracy just as she will undoubtedly game our criminal justice system if she is elected District Attorney,” said Nieves. “This race for Queens District Attorney is far too important to be about Malik’s publicity stunts and not true criminal justice reform. I am confident that I will qualify for the June 25, 2019 primary election ballot.”
Nieves had over 6,600 valid signatures for his campaign.
Betty Lugo, a former Nassau County ADA, is also campaigning for veterans as the daughter, sister and niece of veterans, and also had her signatures challenged. She filed 9,741 and 5,605 of those were considered valid.
Lugo did not respond with a comment on the challenge.
“It’s a very crafty move on Mina,” said John O’Hara, a civil rights lawyer and supporter of Tiffany Cabán, a public defender whose signatures Malik tried to challenge as well. “It’s not my style. I think it’s bad karma.”
Malik, however, saw the challenge to the ballot petitions as necessary for the democratic process and best for the community, which has seen a competitive district attorney’s race since the 1970s.
“As the one true progressive prosecutor in this crucial Queens District Attorney race, it is important to Mina that we maintain the integrity of the election process. Petitions are an indication of viability and community support for candidates. Our campaign is proud to have filed over 11,000 petitions, collecting signatures from every assembly district in the borough,” said Malik spokeswoman Antonya Jeffrey.
Overall, of the 26,033 votes that were challenged, 8,851 were not valid.
“Mina is not a career politician bolstered by the political machine. She collected her petitions by doing the hard work, going door to door and making her case to the people of Queens. The people of Queens deserve someone who has fought for justice and accountability her entire career to be the next district attorney; Mina is that candidate,” said Jeffrey.