The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics yesterday removed four candidates allied with sex tabloid publisher Dennis Sobin from the Sept. 9 Statehood Party primary ballot, but ruled that Sobin and another associate had qualified by submitting the minimum number of nominating petition signatures.
Board Chairman Edward W. Norton said the four were disqualified after a notary public testified in an affidavit that she had not signed the declarations of candidacy submitted by the four, although her purported signature was on the documents.
"It appears to represent at minimum fraud," said Norton, who said that board would refer several issues raised during the two days of hearings to the U.S. attorney's office for possible prosecution.
The decision to allow Sobin, who is running for mayor, and Michael Jarboe, a candidate for an at-large D.C. Council seat, to remain on the ballot was a setback for longtime Statehood Party members who had pressed to have all six members of the Sobin slate removed, citing inconsistencies in signatures and confusion about whether some of the signers are residents of the District.
Longtime members of the tiny Statehood Party, which has about 1,200 members, are concerned that Jarboe's candidacy could threaten incumbent council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), who generally has won her primaries with only a few hundred votes.
Jarboe said his campaign would now step up efforts to get about 500 persons to register in the Statehood Party. Jarboe is campaigning as the only openly homosexual person seeking a seat on the council.
"We were wounded, but not killed," Sobin said after the hearing at the District Building. "They should have killed us. A wounded animal is much more dangerous."
Sobin previously ran for mayor as an independent in 1982, drawing a small fraction of the votes. He said he faces charges of running a bawdy house in a case that will be heard this fall in D.C. Superior Court.
Charles Mason, Hilda Mason's husband and adviser who sat through yesterday's hearing, and other Statehood Party members said they were disappointed by the ruling, but did not suggest they would appeal the decision.
The board's ruling turned on the requirement that candidates for city-wide office in the Statehood primary submit 13 valid signatures of registered party members.
Sobin and Jarboe submitted the same list of 18 names on their petitions, six of which were challenged by veteran Statehood members. However, the board disqualified only five, leaving both Sobin and Jarboe with the minimum number required.
The four candidates whose names were stricken from the ballot are Robert Sorkin and Carolyn A. Wilson, who had sought to run for council chairman; Deborah Scott, a candidate for the Ward 6 seat, and Gladys Yeldell-Burks, a candidate for the Ward 1 council seat.
Yeldell-Burks, who lives in Maryland, submitted a sworn statement last week that she had never signed campaign documents bearing her name that Sobin submitted. Sobin said she simply didn't remember. Norton said the case would be referred to the U.S. attorney's office along with other questions about the Sobin slate's filings.