The city’s Board of Elections has suspended an employee who is a top official in the Queens Republican Party after being notified that he was caught on tape soliciting a $25,000 “finder’s fee” from a company competing for a $65 million contract in 2009, The Post has learned. Several sources said the Department of Investigation provided information to the board that Stephen Graves, first vice chairman of the Queens GOP and a $66,392-a-year board employee, asked for the money from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems as it was battling rival Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., to sell the city its first electronic voting machines. “He was recommending the use of a particular lobbyist,” said one source. “In exchange for that he wanted a finder’s fee.” The lobbyist, who was not identified, was supposed to receive $250,000 a year for five years, the source said. Dominion didn’t make any payments, and ES&S ended up winning the fiercely fought contract in a 6-1 vote on Jan. 5, 2010, with two board commissioners abstaining.
Dominion officials later filed a complaint with the US Attorney’s Office and, sources said, turned over a copy of their taped conversation with Graves. “We are fully cooperating with the authorities, but don’t have any particular comment at this time,” a company official told The Post. The board’s commissioners voted Tuesday to suspend Graves, a systems analyst since 2007, and to bring the matter to the Manhattan DA’s Office.