Ben Waxman, the former communications director for state Sen. Vince Hughes, woke up this morning to the news that someone had filed paperwork to begin his run for City Controller.
It was a particularly surprising revelation to Waxman, a onetime 182nd district state Rep. candidate, who says he didn't file any campaign paperwork.
“I did not authorize anyone to go on your website and put in my name as a candidate for any office, including Philadelphia City Controller. I also did not do this myself,” he wrote the city’s elections supervisor. “I would like to know who did this, because it seems to be fraud.”
But the Philadelphia City Commissioners office, which handles campaign filings, confirmed that someone had indeed created election petitions using his full name and home address at 3 a.m., listing Waxman’s occupation as “activist.” (Waxman currently serves as the executive director of Wage Change – a nonprofit that advocates for private sector wage increases.)
“It’s extremely problematic to take someone's middle initial and home address and create some fake government document – that’s no joke,” Waxman told City&State PA. “I take that seriously.”
Waxman speculated that the petition filing was a hoax.
Both scenarios are theoretically possible. Candidates for office must gather signatures in order to run for office, and a commissioners employee said the office had launched a new service this year that allows individuals to create tailored petitions online, rather than in person.
The online option was meant to save time and effort for the already laborious process of circulating petitions. But the new system also means anyone could log on to the website to create a petition for, well, anyone.
A commissioners petition database obtained by City&State also showed previously created Controller petitions for “Mickey Mouse” (Occupation: “Entertainer”) and District Attorney petitions for “Cupid” (Occupation: “Matchmaker”).
Waxman underscored that he was not interested in taking on City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
“I am not running for City Controller,” he said, noting that he hadn’t done any city fundraising.
Sources said there may be a little more to the story. Several said the bogus petition was filed as part of a longstanding feud between Waxman and allies of his erstwhile political opponent, 182nd district state Rep. Brian Sims.
Another anonymous party created a short lived “BrianSims4DA” Twitter account last week, which some in Sims’s camp reportedly blamed on Waxman. Some suggested the phony petitions were a form of payback.
Sources also said whoever is responsible for the fake Twitter account or petitions should get a life.
“While entertaining, who had this much free time?” mused one insider.