Yesterday, the Board of State Canvassers held multiple deadlocked votes on the Bureau of Elections recommendation to exclude James Craig, Perry Johnson, Michael Markey, Donna Brandenburg and Mike Brown from the August primary ballot due to significant fraudulent and forged signatures on their nominating petitions.
Throughout the meeting, candidates and representatives of their campaigns repeatedly refused accountability for the clear and significant fraudulent activity. Notably, they did not deny that the signatures were fraudulent and conceded they had no quality control measures in place.
The lack of accountability from gubernatorial Republicans didn’t sit right with several members of their own party, who shared their clear-eyed reactions.
Several Republicans Did Not Buy Fraudulent Candidates’ Arguments That They Shouldn’t be Held Responsible for the Thousands of Forged Signatures They Submitted
NRSC political director Stu Sandler: MI politics trying to get in the way of my day job.Looking to twitter to keep me updated on how the chief law enforcement officer of MI largest city & the self-proclaimed quality guru defend their 1000s of forged, fraudulent signatures along with the MRP that wrongly backed them
NRSC political director Stu Sandler: The Michigan Republican Party I knew believed in personal responsibility and accountability. It didn’t stop because the candidate I supported/worked for/shoved on others wouldn’t do the hard work required.
NRSC political director Stu Sandler: Totally agree w/former SOS Candice Miller and Ruth Johnson. Here is the way they stop fraud:hire competent professionals, manage the process, have supporters that help, and run a competent organization. Period. End of sentence. Candidates with no money can do this. It’s not hard
NRSC political director Stu Sandler: Spare me. The Michigan Republican Party candidates ran garbage operations. The fact the Michigan Republican Party is defending all this fraud is embarrassing.
Former Gov. Engler press secretary John Truscott: The fact that the @MIGOP is not standing up for the rule of law and election integrity is shameful and embarrassing. Time for new leaders.
Republican strategist John Sellek: The system worked. Candidates that didn’t have the organization or support to collect the signatures didn’t get onto the ballot, that’s the cold, hard truth
Mark Cavitt (The Oakland Press): Rocky Raczkowski, Oakland County GOP Chairman: “A candidate has a responsibility to download the State Qualified Voter file, or buy a list of voters to confirm that petitions are correct. It goes back to personal responsibility.”
Dixon campaign advisor Fred Wszolek: The Bureau of Elections found 68,000 obvious forgeries on petitions. They then double checked more than 7,000 of them against the voter file, and did not find a single valid signature in that batch of 7,000. Not one.
Members on Both Political Sides of the Board of Canvassers Struggled With the Candidate’s Attempts to Pass Blame
Paul Egan (Detroit Free Press): More from [Michigan Elections Director Jonathan] Brater: Elections staff threw out signatures after checking petitions line by line, not based on a random sample. Still no evidence that even one of the tens of thousands of signatures thrown out was valid.
Laina G. Stebbins (Michigan Advance): GOP gubernatorial candidate Donna Brandenburg calls the process an “arbitrary goat rodeo,” which is my new favorite phrase. “…There’s no truth in any of this.” The Board of Elections determined this week that 63% of her submitted signatures were invalid.
Eric Lloyd (9 and 10 News): Michael Markey just used Jose Canseco’s steroid use as an analogy to his petition signatures. Add that to “goat rodeo” and an attorney saying, “This sucks” to today’s surprising quotes.
Zach Gorchow (Gongwer): This whole scene at the canvassers today defies reality.
Devin Scillian (WDIV): I’m watching meeting of the Board of State Canvassers and unless I’m missing something it seems the argument is like a group of students telling the teacher the reason they got the answers wrong was because the person they paid to do their homework gave them the wrong answers.
Alyssa McMurtry (Gongwer): Board member Tony Daunt, who has been outspoken about his disappointment with MIGOP leadership, said he rejects any claims from either side of the aisle that the elections staff processed the signatures with a partisan angle.
Samuel J. Robinson (Axios): Canvasser Mary Ellen Gurewitz: “So you’re saying that if you submit thousands and thousands of signatures, which you have not validated, that we have to put Chief Craig, Mr. Craig, on the ballot, even though we have no reason to believe that those are valid signatures?”
Samuel J. Robinson (Axios): Gurewitz: “So we have to do the work that you didn’t do, is that correct? Doesn’t the law put the burden on the candidate to submit a sufficient number of valid signatures? Lewis: “Yes, ma’am. It does. And it also puts a burden on the circulators not to commit fraud.”
Alyssa McMurtry (Gongwer): Ms. Gurewitz said she has seen many stories in the newspaper that Mr. Craig said he was a victim of circulators. She added she is troubled by the suggestion that the bureau didn’t have time to “do the work that needed to be done” and should put Mr. Craig on the ballot anyway.
Craig Mauger (Detroit News): James Craig’s attorney says he intentionally doesn’t read the news. He’s being pressed on a number of statements HIS own candidate made to reporters.
Craig Mauger (Detroit News): This James Craig campaign attorney is different from the one who referred to Craig as Clark in a filing with the Bureau of Elections.
Alyssa McMurtry (Gongwer): Chair Norm Shinkle says they have so far heard this same argument from the other candidates and/or their representation
Paul Egan (Detroit Free Press): Democratic board member Mary Ellen Gurewitz to lawyer for James Craig, a #MIGOP candidate for governor facing disqualification: “If you look at these petition sheets, they are obviously fraudulent. What kind of effort did you make (to verify)?”
Reporters Were on Hand to Fact Check the Thin Arguments Stemming Not Just From the Candidates Themselves but the MIGOP
Susan J. Demas (Michigan Advance): Candidates from the party of personal responsibility spent the day in Michigan arguing to an elections board they should be allowed to be on the ballot because fraudulent signatures aren’t their fault. GOP officials’ response? LET’S GOOOOOOOO
Craig Mauger (Detroit News): State Rep. Matt Maddock, speaking before the canvassing board, cites problems to gather petitions caused by COVID-19. “I think the Michigan voters deserve to have these candidates on the ballot,” said Maddock, whose wife is co-chair of the Michigan GOP.
Chad Livengood (Detroit News): An unusual sight…a sitting state lawmaker who recently got booted from his caucus actively lobbying for Republican gubernatorial candidates to be placed on the ballot. To be clear, no campaign is using COVID as an excuse for not being to come up 15,000 valid voter signatures.
Jonathan Oosting (Bridge Michigan): Maddock cited signature accommodations allowed by the state in 2020, when much of Michigan was shutdown because of COVID. There haven’t been COVID restrictions since summer 2021
Zack Gorchow (Gongwer): Multiple ties between the Maddocks and Perry Johnson.
Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press): Lots of lawyers making arguments this morning that the Bureau of Elections failed to presume signatures were valid on candidates’ nominating petitions. Stands in contrast to GOP outcry over Benson’s guidance to clerks to presume voters signatures were valid in 2020 election.