Press Roundup: James Craig, Tudor Dixon, and Perry Johnson Face Multiple Allegations of Fraudulent Behavior, Forged Signatures, and the Exploitation of Deceased Voters

“I have never seen such evidence of forgery and fraud in a petition drive in nearly 40 years of practicing election law in Michigan.” – leading Michigan election law attorney Mark Brewer

This morning, Michigan outlets detailed multiple challenges filed against the nominating petitions submitted by Republican gubernatorial candidates James Craig, Tudor Dixon, and Perry Johnson. 

The extensive evidence of reported fraudulent behavior that could keep all three from qualifying for the August primary ballot includes signatures from deceased voters, signature irregularities, and a forgery ring perpetrated by a specific group of petition circulators, among other blatant campaign finance violations. 

Read below for coverage on the petition issues plaguing the irresponsible candidates making up the “largest gubernatorial primary race in Michigan history.”

MLive: Democrat Challenge Could Disqualify Top Gop Candidates For Michigan Governor

James Craig, Perry Johnson and Tudor Dixon turned in enough signatures to get on the primary ballot for Michigan governor this August, but they could be disqualified if new challenges from the Michigan Democratic Party are successful.

The MDP filed more than 250 pages worth of complaints to the state on Tuesday, April 26, prior to the 5 p.m. deadline for challenges to candidates’ nominating petitions.

The Democrats allege dead people signed the petitions, some people signed multiple petitions, names were forged, people signed who are not registered to vote and petitions were filled out incorrectly. […] 

Craig’s petitions were littered with problems, the party said. Some were signed with incorrect dates – one was dated March 15, 1983, and another was dated December 2022, for example.

“Michigan statewide elections have never seen a set of petitions as flawed as those of James Craig,” the official complaint reads.

Spelling was also an issue. Petitions indicated they were circulated in counties like “Oatland,” “Macob,” “Musken,” “Washtnew” and “Washnow.” […]

Johnson’s petitions also have “extensive irregularities,” per the complaint, including many of the same issues. A handful of names on Johnson’s petitions were allegedly signed by people who are dead – including one person who died in 2018. […]

Dixon’s petitions have a few issues as well, the party claims, although the MDP says the most pivotal is that the heading above all 29,735 of her signatures is incorrect. It states the governor term expires in 2026, when it actually expires Jan. 1, 2027.

The complaint says all of Dixon’s signatures should be tossed out because of that.

Detroit Freep: Michigan GOP Candidates Hoping to Unseat Whitmer Face Challenges to Nominating Petitions

The challenges against former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon and Oakland County businessman Perry Johnson could threaten their candidacies if successful.

The complaints — three from residents represented by Democratic attorneys and one from a conservative PAC — allege that all three candidates included signatures from dead voters and may have relied upon petition circulators who forged signatures. […]

The complaint filed by Brewer alleges that of the signatures Craig filed, nearly 7,000 signatures were forged, over 300 were duplicates, nearly 200 came from non-registered voters, 30 came from deceased voters and nearly 2,000 were otherwise defective. As a result, Craig failed to file sufficient signatures to appear on the August primary ballot, the complaint asserts. […]

“The extensive evidence of fraud and forgery found throughout the nominating petitions submitted by James Craig, Tudor Dixon, and Perry Johnson indicate not only that their irresponsible campaigns are grossly negligent, but that they are not capable of being accountable leaders,” she said. “The fraud uncovered in just a matter of days demands a full review of nominating petitions from the entire field of gubernatorial candidates.”

Detroit News: Michigan Democrats Challenging Petitions of 3 GOP Candidates for Governor

Mark Brewer, a longtime Michigan elections attorney and former chairman of the state Democratic Party, signed the challenge to Craig’s signatures. Craig’s “petitions fall well short of providing the necessary 15,000 valid signatures necessary to qualify for the primary election ballot,” Brewer wrote.

In his challenge, Brewer claimed eight petition circulators had “forged or permitted the forgery” of 6,933 signatures. […] 

[Perry Johnson]  irregularities included signatures from dead people, apparent forgeries, extensive signature errors, a high number of duplicate signatures and numerous address and jurisdictional issues, Liedel’s complaint said.

Liedel identified an “apparent forgery” in the signature of Betsey Hage of Royal Oak. Hage submitted a sworn declaration, saying she hadn’t actually signed Johnson’s petition although a signature using her name was included. […]

Crain’s Business Detroit: Craig, Dixon and Johnson Face Challenges to Ballot Petitions

Steven Liedel, an election attorney at Dykema Gossett PLLC, filed a separate challenge on behalf of Democrats of Dixon and Johnson’s nominating petitions, citing wrong information in Dixon’s nominating petitions, and forgeries, a handful of deceased voters and other irregularities in both Dixon and Johnson’s petitions. […]

The State Board of Canvassers, a panel of two Republicans and two Democrats, will have to sort out whether Craig, Dixon and Johnson gathered the minimum number of valid signatures. If any of the candidates’ petitions are deemed insufficient, they would be disqualified from appearing on the August primary ballot, which could significantly shake up the race for governor. […]

Brewer’s complaint contains numerous examples of signatures with the similar hand-writing styles across dozens of different pages in Craig’s nominating petitions. […]

Liedel’s complaint of Johnson’s signatures said six of Craig’s eight petition circulators also gathered signatures for the Johnson campaign, calling into question those signatures for Johnson’s bid to get on the ballot.

Associated Press: Dems Challenge 3 Michigan GOP Governor Candidates’ Petitions

The Democratic-drafted complaint alleges that at least eight of Craig’s circulators engaged in a forging technique known as “round-robining” — when a small group of people signs names and addresses in turn, one per sheet, using a voter list. More than 6,900 of his 21,000-plus signatures were obtained that way and should be invalidated, according to the filing. […]

The challenge to Johnson also alleges forgery, noting his campaign used six circulators accused of forging Craig’s petitions. 

Bridge Michigan: James Craig Accused of Gathering Fake Signatures in Bid to Make Michigan Ballot

The most serious allegations, however, center around James, the former Detroit police chief who has led early polls of the GOP gubernatorial race but, like all candidates, has not yet been guaranteed a spot on the ballot. […] 

“I’m a neophyte,” Craig told reporters. “I’ve never run for political office. So there are things about this work that I don’t know. Had I known what I know now, I probably would have started getting petitions signed in July of last year.”

MIRS: BREAKING NEWS – Dems Challenge Signatures For Dixon, Craig, Johnson 

MDP Chair Lavora BARNES said they found “extensive” evidence of fraud and forgery that shows their “irresponsible” campaigns are “grossly negligent.”

“The fraud uncovered in just a matter of days demands a full review of nominating petitions from the entire field of gubernatorial candidates,” Barnes said. “The Bureau of Election and the Board of Canvassers should conduct a thorough examination to ensure they possess the integrity to stand up against Michigan election law.”

MIRS: PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Challenges James Craig Signatures

A political action committee backing Tudor DIXON challenged the signatures turned in by fellow gubernatorial candidate James CRAIG today. […] 

“After our review of Craig’s petitions, we concluded that the combination of incompetence, invalidity, unregistered voters, and apparent fraud means that there is a strong probability that Craig submitted insufficient signatures to qualify as a Republican candidate for governor – and it’s likely that the Craig campaign knows it,” said Fred WSZOLEK, a spokesperson for Michigan Strong. […]

“We hope any fraud that is encountered will be referred to the Attorney General, as well. Clearly, the overwhelming demand for election integrity from GOP voters wasn’t communicated to Craig’s campaign,” he said.

Gongwer: Pro-Dixon PAC Challenges Craig Signatures

The challenge log detailing alleged defects in submitted signatures show about 7,100 signatures cited being from a person not registered to vote and mistakes like the wrong county or municipality on the sheet.

Another 172 signatures were cited as duplicates. […]

Fred Wszolek, spokesman for Michigan Strong PAC, said it has submitted a detailed inventory to the Bureau of Elections and hopes any fraud encountered will be referred to the Department of Attorney General. He also said the signatures included “obvious cases of circulator forgery.”

“After our review of Craig’s petitions, we concluded that the combination of incompetence, invalidity, unregistered voters, and apparent fraud means that there is a strong probability that Craig submitted insufficient signatures to qualify as a Republican candidate for governor – and it’s likely that the Craig campaign knows it,” Mr. Wszolek said. […]

At the beginning of the race, Mr. Craig was viewed as the Republican frontrunner, but he has been fading as 2021 came to a close and the election year opened.

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