If you can’t beat ’em … fake ’em out? Two Democratic Party leaders in Michigan face nine felony counts after prosecutors allege that they forged documents to put fake Tea Party candidates on the ballot. Unlike other schemes where Democrats allegedly recruited candidates to run on ersatz Tea Party organization identities, these “candidates” had no idea they were on the ballot at all, some of them only discovering it after receiving delinquency notices on filings. Fox News in Detroit reports that the grand jury is still probing the matter and that there may be more indictments coming:
Two former leaders of the Oakland County Democratic Party are facing a total of nine felonies for allegedly forging election paperwork to get fake Tea Party candidates on November’s ballot. …
Former Oakland County Democratic Chair Mike McGuinness and former Democratic Operations Director Jason Bauer face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.
“Some of the people didn’t even know they were on the ballot till they began receiving delinquency notices of filings that were required as a candidate,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
The sheriff says 23 statewide races had questionable Tea Party candidates on the ballot and the investigation may go beyond Oakland County.
The charges involve forgery, fraud, and perjury. The prosecution alleges that the two signed candidacy materials under false pretenses, forms which require people to acknowledge that they are under oath to provide truthful and accurate information. If they signed the forms themselves under the names of people who didn’t know what the two Democrats were doing, those charges should be easy to prove in court. The two will face years in prison.
The question will be whether this was part of a larger operation to dilute the ballot to help Democrats, a scheme that failed anyway. If McGuiness and Bauer end up facing the long end of a 14-year sentence, they may be highly motivated to tell prosecutors about any wider plans in Michigan to defraud voters. Fox notes that the grand jury continues to probe this even after the indictments against the two Oakland County Democratic Party leaders, which might mean more indictments will be forthcoming. We will definitely keep an eye out for further developments.