Spitzer Camp Rejects Accusation, Says It 'Took Great Care'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Eliot Spitzer is facing a challenge to his bid to get on the ballot in the city comptroller’s race, after a Republican strategist contested the ex-governor’s petition signatures.

E. O’Brien Murray filed an objection shortly before a midnight deadline Monday. He said he reviewed the more than 27,000 signatures that Spitzer, a Democrat, gathered in a four-day burst and found errors. Murray has a week to file details of his claims.

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“Eliot Spitzer has returned to politics the way he left it – with lies, deceit and who knows, possibility illegal and fraudulent activity,” Murray told the New York Post, who first reported the story.

“Everyone has an opportunity for redemption. I understand that. [But you can’t] buy an election and possibly commit fraud collecting your petitions,” Murray told the Daily News.

Spitzer’s campaign said Tuesday it’s not worried about its petitions, which count more than seven times as many signatures as needed.

“Anyone can file General Objections without showing a scintilla of substance for the challenge,” Martin O’Connor, a lawyer for the campaign, said in a statement. “The Spitzer campaign took great care in the petitioning process and filed far more than the number of valid signatures required by law.”

Spitzer’s Democratic rival for the comptroller’s office Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said he wouldn’t challenge Spitzer’s signatures.

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Five years after resigning amid a prostitution scandal, Spitzer embarked on his surprise campaign to return to politics July 8, four days before the deadline to submit signatures. His self-financed campaign paid canvassers to gather them.

Murray, known as “O’B.,” managed Republican Bob Turner’s successful campaign for Congress in a 2011 special election and conservative Democrat Simcha Felder’s successful state Senate run last year.

Petition signature problems can include missing dates, unclear addresses, voters or canvassers who aren’t registered in the candidate’s party, or voters who already signed a petition for another candidate in the same race.

If Murray files detailed objections by next week’s deadline, city Board of Elections staffers will review them and examine Spitzer’s petition signatures. The board will hold a hearing, starting July 30, to decide whether to invalidate any signatures.

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