Atlantic City’s Craig Callaway charged with mail-in ballot fraud

Atlantic City's Craig Callaway charged with mail-in ballot fraud

ATLANTIC CITY — Political operative Craig Callaway was arrested Thursday and charged with procuring, casting and tabulating fraudulent mail-in ballots in the November 2022 general election.

Callaway, 64, of Atlantic City, made his initial appearance Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Skahill in Camden, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Known for working for both political parties on get-out-the-vote efforts, Callaway is a former Democratic City Council president who was convicted of taking bribes and pleaded guilty to conspiracy for helping blackmail a fellow councilmember. He spent about three years in prison, getting out in 2010.

“Holding free and fair elections is a bedrock principle of our democracy,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in the release. “As alleged in the complaint, the defendant attempted to deprive New Jersey residents of a free and fair election by fraudulently procuring and casting ballots.”

The November 2022 election included a congressional race, countywide races for Atlantic County commissioner seats and local races, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, has said he paid Callaway about $50,000 to be his adviser and help with get-out-the vote efforts in his reelection bid in 2022.

It is not known how many other local or county candidates Callaway may have worked for during that election.

“Congressman Van Drew received nearly 140,000 votes in the November 2022 general election, only 851 of which came from vote-by-mail ballots in Atlantic City,” said a news release from Van Drew’s campaign Thursday.

Van Drew’s margin of victory was 45,000, the campaign said, and his Democratic opponent, Tim Alexander, got many more votes through vote-by-mail from Atlantic City.

“We never have and never would condone any illegal activity,” the release said.

Callaway signed a contract agreeing that “all work and services provided shall adhere to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations,” according to the Van Drew campaign.

n Atlantic City, Van Drew received a total of 2,103 votes to Alexander’s 3,761.

Megan J. Davies, a solo practice attorney in Collingswood, Camden County, said Thursday she was appointed by the court to represent Callaway. He was released Thursday, and there are no scheduled court dates set yet, she said. She could not comment on whether she would remain his attorney.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr., a longtime political foe of Callaway who has filed a slander lawsuit against him, declined to comment Thursday.

About a month before the Nov. 7, 2022, general election, the complaint alleges Callaway and others working for him approached many people in Atlantic City, offering them $30 to $50 to act as purported authorized messengers for vote-by-mail voters.

Under New Jersey law, messengers are required to deliver mail-in ballots they receive directly to the voters who requested them, but these supposed messengers actually gave them to Callaway or his subordinates, the complaint states.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said many of the mail-in ballots collected were ultimately cast in the names of people who say they did not vote in the 2022 general election.

The complaint from the U.S. attorney outlines how investigators set up with cameras in front of the Mays Landing office of the Atlantic County Board of Elections and County Clerk, and watched “messengers” come out with vote-by-mail ballots and hand them to Callaway.

It also describes four “purported voters” who say they didn’t vote but ballots in their name were delivered to the Board of Elections through “messengers” aligned with Callaway.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Atlantic City Police Department worked with the FBI and its Atlantic City Resident Public Corruption Task Force on the case.

“As the chief law enforcement official in Atlantic County, I am extremely grateful for the work done by our detectives in this case along with all partner agencies,” Prosecutor Will Reynolds said Thursday.

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Written by colinnew

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