The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics formally asked the U.S. attorney's office yesterday to prosecutive a WRC radio news reporter for what one member called the "heinous" crime of registering her dog to vote.
Board officials said Donna Penyak, the reporter, was reportedly gathering information for a story on purported flaws in the city's voter registration system when she filed a registration for her dog, Sasha N. Penyak, on Sept. 26. The official said no story ever was broadcast.
"This is one of the high crimes, one of the most infamous crimes . . . particularly at these times . . . I think it is heinous," board member Jeanus B. Parks Jr. said.
James L. Denson, another member, agreed. "It was a bonehead error," he said, but "she is an adult of sound mind and a representative of an industry that has been less than kind to the District government and to the board of elections, on which I serve."
Denson said he wanted to find out the identity of an elections board member who reportedly gave Penyak the idea by telling her that "the voter registration system was so 'screwed up' you could register your pet."
Winfred R. Mundle, the board's general counsel, said Penyak could face charges of "perjury, false registration and other lesser offenses."
If convicted on the false registration charge, Penyak could be sentenced up to five years in jail and fined up to $10,000.
Penyak could not be reached for comment. WRC's newsroom referred calls to John Sturm, a staff attorney for the National Broadcasting Co., which owns the stations. "I don't like to say 'no comment,' but that is what I guess I have to do," Sturm said.
On another matter, the board agreed to conduct a recount of the Ward 6 Democratic primary election results at the request of Patricia Rice Press, who apparently lost to incumbent City Council member Nadine P. Winter by 100 votes. The recount probably will be done on Monday.