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Meng was certified the winner of the September Democratic primary in spite of the questionable registrations, but the Board of Elections maintained that some of the illegal registrations listed a commercial business owned by Meng instead of residential addresses as required by law. He was elected to be the first Asian legislator in the statehouse, representing the heavily Chinese district of downtown Flushing. At the time the ballots were called into question last fall, his campaign workers contended that perhaps voters listed his bookstore as their home address by accident because of language barriers. Grace Meng, the assemblyman's daughter, pointed out that on English-language ballots there is a line for "home address," but on Chinese ballots it just asks for an "address." Meng's camp also said the disputed voter registrations dated back to the late 1990s, before he was even seeking office. He first ran in 2002 against Barry Grodenchik, who won the seat for a first term, but then lost it to Meng in November. "It is clear that any suggestion of impropriety is utterly false and without merit," Jerry Goldfeder, Meng's attorney, said. "Assemblyman Meng continues to represent his district with passion and vigor and will not be distracted by character assassinations or political detractors." Goldfeder said it appears that a political figure might be behind the recent publicizing of this case, but he would not name any specific elected official. "I am concentrating on working hard for the people of Flushing. Everyone in Flushing knows how I won my election, plain and simple - honestly, with lots of hard work, effort and enthusiasm, every day, in every part of Flushing," Meng said. In the September primary, Meng unseated Grodenchik, who has since left government for the private sector. He has taken a job with Parkside Group, a political consulting firm that helps coordinate campaigns in Queens. Meng's primary win was not jeopardized by the 160 ballots, said Chris Riley of the Board of Elections. "I don't believe any of those people even came out and voted," he said. "Even if all 161 of them did, it wouldn't have swung the election." Meng beat Grodenchik by more than 500 votes in the September primary before soundly defeating Republican challenger Meilin Tan and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou in the November general election. The Board of Elections began investigating the questionable registrations in October before handing the case to District Attorney Richard Brown in December. "We made no allegations against Mr. Meng," Riley said. "All we did was turn over the information that we had on the registrations, so we don't know if he's going to go after Mr. Meng." A spokesman for Brown said he could neither confirm nor deny whether the investigation involved Meng or the individual voters who listed commercial addresses in downtown Flushing. By law, a voter must reside in the Assembly district in which he or she wishes to vote. During the investigation into the voter registrations, the Board of Elections found that several people had listed the same address, more than could possibly live in one apartment. "In December, the Board of Elections referred information to the district attorney's office. The DA's integrity bureau has undertaken a review of the information which involves allegations of election regulations irregularities," the spokesman for DA Brown said. "So far the review is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached as of possible criminal charges." Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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