Trump’s Russian Speaking Lawyer Once Represented Local District After Winning Voter Fraud Suit
Back in 1993, a special election was held to fill the 2nd Senatorial District seat due to the death of State Sen. Frank Lynch earlier that year. The Democrats nominated Bill Stinson, the leader of the 33rd ward, while the Republicans nominated Bruce Marks, who had done well in the previous election versus Lynch in 1990.
The Democratic Machine was worried. Despite the 1992 gerrymandering of the 2nd District, which eliminated the neighborhoods Marks beat Lynch in, Stinson wasn’t well known in the new areas. The battleground areas coincide with what makes up the 197th state representative district today, particularly the 19th and 42nd wards.
Stinson may be known to some locals as he eventually became part owner of Finnegan’s Wake at 3rd and Spring Garden Streets.
“We ran an aggressive campaign,” Marks told Spirit News. He pointed out that Republican Ron Castille was “at the top of the ticket” and the Democrats were afraid his popularity would help Marks. So, according to Marks, “they decided to steal the election through a massive absentee ballot fraud, which was targeted at the Latino Spanish-speaking part of the district.”
“Most of that house district, then and now, was in my [senate] district,” Marks said. “At that time, in ‘93, the State Rep. was Ralph Acosta, who is Leslie’s father,” referring to Leslie Acosta, the former representative of the 197th who was convicted of a felony. Marks says Ralph Acosta was not in on the fraud as “he never fit in with the Democratic Machine… and [had] no positive relationship with Carlos Matos.” Marks couldn’t remember if Matos led the 18th or 19th ward, but he did point out it was before he went to prison in Jersey.
“The Democrat Machine and the Stinson campaign had a scheme to get people knowingly or unknowingly to vote by absentee ballot,” Marks said. Part of the scheme included paying people a dollar to sign an application, telling people they could win a new refrigerator, or would get a free magazine subscription. Oh, and they hand-delivered the ballots to the City Commissioner’s office (a state law no-no), which didn’t matter because then City Commissioners Marge Tartaglione and Alex Talmadge were in on the scheme, according to Marks and the decision of Federal Judge Clarence Newcomer. “It was just a brazen fraud,” Marks said.
A sitting City Councilman at that time, who Marks described as a “reformed Democrat,” tipped Marks off to the absentee ballot scheme. “There was a very, very large number of absentee ballots in an area where there was typically [low-voter participation] and that sent up all kinds of red flags,” Marks said. “We tried to challenge the absentee ballots at the polls, [but] the Democratic committee people and election officials wouldn’t let us into some places. They threatened [us]. As it turns out they were also voting people — it’s called ‘ringing them in’ — where [voters] didn’t actually come to the polls, but before the polls opened or afterwards they would just [sign them in and vote for them]. Well, as it would turn out, a couple of [those voters] were dead. A couple people are so patriotic that they continue to vote after they die.”
Marks continued: “We went to the City Commissioners. They were involved in the fraud, but we didn’t know it at the time. They tried to cover the whole thing up and we got nowhere, then they illegally seated Stinson, even though we had a challenge pending. We didn’t try to get a hearing… in Common Pleas Court because the judge was a former Democrat Ward leader who said I had to put up a $50,000 bond if I wanted to proceed… so we went to federal court [instead].”
According to the lawsuit, “The conspiracy conducted by Commissioners Talmadge and Tartaglione, and Supervisor of Elections Dennis Kelly, and their approval of such conduct by other government workers and Stinson Campaign officials, was an unlawful policy designed to assist the Stinson Campaign and deprive voters of their constitutional right to vote in a free and fair election.”
“The Federal courts don’t like to get involved in ‘garden-variety disputes’ like a ballot here or ballot there type of thing, but if you can show systematic fraud, which we were able to do, [they will get involved],” Marks said.
So the Feds threw out the absentee ballots and went to the voting machine results, which Marks won.
Fast forward to present day: Could Lucinda Little or Cheri Honkala benefit in a similar way? Well, local lawyers Linda Kerns and Samuel Stretton are going to try.
Marks admits he doesn’t know the specific facts of the current predicament in the 197th, but he thinks they have a tougher battle than he did.
“The Democrat [Emilio Vazquez] got a huge amount of the votes,” Marks said. “Fortunately I won on the machines,” he said. “We had a statistical expert … who did a sampling” and was able to establish that the fraud gave the win to Stinson.
So it’s a no-go for the 197th? Marks sees some hope.
Despite the landslide result, he said that “if you could show that the illegal activity was widespread, and that government officials were in on it, like judge-of-elections, it would taint the election,” and maybe overturn the election.
Back to 1994, Marks took office and finished out the term.
Stinson, who served a few months between the election and the Federal Court decision, ran Finnegan’s Wake with his partners for several years. He apparently kept his State-issued State Senate vehicle license plate on his car for at least a decade. He passed away a couple years ago.
Marks is currently a Philly lawyer who speaks Russian and has an office in Moscow. The Donald Trump campaign hired him this past year, so all’s well that ends well.
Wait, what? Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop the clock! You’re telling me Marks works for Donald Trump and has a Moscow office? Say hi to Vladdy for us. And Snowden too, I guess.
Marks chuckled and said it’s really no big deal. He majored in Russian at UPenn and has been doing business in Moscow and Ukraine since 1998. “Between London, Russia and Ukraine, I’m there about a week a month or so,” Marks explained.
He doesn’t know Trump from Russia or any Russia-related business. He actually knows him from right here in Philly.
Back in ‘94, after he prevailed in the election fraud case, Marks needed to quickly run for re-election. The Dems, having had their own City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione implicated in the previous election’s shenanigans, did the obvious thing and ran Marge’s daughter Christine against Marks.
So the Republicans called in the big guns and asked Trump to come down to the City of Brotherly Love for a fundraiser for Marks. Trump gassed up his black Sikorsky helicopter and took Marla Maples on a Philly date night.
“They flew in from New York in this huge helicopter,” Marks said. “It was like an army helicopter painted black… so cool.”
Trump and Marks loosely kept in touch over the years. Marks even attended the 2016 RNC in Cleveland with the PA delegation. “We had great seats,” Marks said.
But when both the Republicans and Democrats began talking election fraud last year, Marks reached out to mutual friends again and offered his services.
The friend said, “Bruce, I know, you’re the guy to handle this.” The friend put Marks in touch with Don McGahn, then Trump Campaign general counsel, now White House Counsel.
“Of all things, Don [McGahn] worked as a volunteer in our election suit [in ‘94]. He was a law student at the time,” Marks said. “So Don said, ‘Yeah, of course, I know your case and how well you handled it.” Conveniently, McGahn’s law firm, Jones Day, didn’t have a Philly office, so Marks got the job and helped handle a filing.
Okay, so no really cool Russian spy stories, huh? Well…
“I got a call from the FBI [last year],” Marks started, adding that he would get calls from them asking what he was doing in Russia from time to time, but could rarely comment due to attorney-client privilege. But this time “they asked me if I knew a [specific] guy.” Marks didn’t recall the person, but the FBI told him, “‘He has your business card.’” The man was a Russian spy. Marks realized it was a banker he met two years ago at a conference while trying to drum up business for his firm.
Marks told the FBI agent that this situation angered him. The FBI asked, “Why?”
“Why did they have some guy talk to me instead of some pretty female spy?” Marks joked. “I mean, I get some banker as opposed to some hot model. I mean, give me some respect.”
While fraudulent Philly elections and Russian spies are things Spirit News staff would happily talk about all day, the interview had to end.
“I gotta go … I’m off to Russia tonight,” Marks said. •