Dutchess DA finds no evidence of perjury in Haight investigation

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady, a Republican, has complied with a request from county Democrats to investigate the Republican Elections Commissioner for perjury.  Grady has completed his investigation of Erik Haight and found that no evidence of perjury exists.

County Democratic Chairwoman Elisa Sumner asked for the investigation last month, asserting that Haight’s October testimony in a case involving polling locations in which he said that changing polling places so close to the general election would lead to voter confusion, was perjury.

Erik Haight

Supreme Court Justice Maria Rosa accepted the testimony and declined to allow a polling place to be moved.  Two days later, Haight and his then-counterpart Democrat Beth Soto moved two other polling places in Red Hook.  Bard College then appealed Judge Rosa’s original ruling.  Justice Rosa reversed her decision, saying in part, “The basis for this court’s decision and order has now been eliminated since the primary factor identified by Commissioner Haight and relied upon by this court was simply untrue.”

Sumner cited Rosa’s language as the basis for the perjury allegation and wrote to Grady. “We ask that you open a fair, impartial, and thorough investigation into these matters to determine whether perjury and other charges or sanctions are warranted.”

DA Grady responded, in writing to Sumner on February 4, indicating that his office conducted an investigation and found no evidence of perjury.  The report asserts that Justice Rosa had an opportunity to refer the allegation of perjury to his office but did not.  “There is specific authority holding that when a record suggests that perjury has been committed, the Court may, in its sound discretion, refer the matter to the District Attorney for investigation. No such referral was made,” stated Grady.

Grady noted that Haight’s testimony was based upon the commissioner’s experience as a commissioner and it was his opinion.  His four-page decision concluded by saying, “Opinion is not perjury. A statement that is opinion even if ambiguous or nonresponsive cannot be perjury. Moreover, perjury is not committed by failing to submit an affidavit, no matter how relevant or material such statement, if made, might be to the subject matter at hand. Therefore, no justiciable fact or facts exist which would provide the basis for any type of criminal prosecution or sanction. There is no evidence of perjury in any degree committed in these proceedings.”

After being informed of Grady’s decision, Haight said “I think Mr. Grady arrived at the obvious conclusion because obviously, I didn’t perjure myself, and never have whenever I’ve been put under oath and testified.”

The Republican also took aim at the Democratic Chairwoman, saying “Sumner’s attempt to weaponize the District Attorney’s Office was a futile attempt to harass and intimidate me but she will never succeed. The rank-and-file Democratic voters of Dutchess County are ill-served by her so-called “leadership,” however I’m hoping she stays in her position due to the profound success the Republican Party has had during her tenure.”