For those who missed it this weekend, late Friday night Michigan officials announced that five-term Congressman Thad McCotter hadn't turned in enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the Republican primary in MI-11--a district that he essentially drew for himself back in 2002 when he was still in the state senate, and appeared to have been nicely shored up for him in the latest round of redistricting. While he turned in the maximum of 2,000 signatures, a preliminary review revealed that fewer than the minimum 1,000 were valid.
Well, the other shoe may be about to drop in this snafu. Late yesterday, the Secretary of State's office announced it is reviewing the possibility that there may have been fraud or forgery in the gathering of signatures for McCotter.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Sunday that the office is reviewing the signatures for possible fraud, but she declined to elaborate.It's pretty murky so far--but the fact this has progressed to the point that the attorney general is even involved is pretty telling. Also telling--McCotter has not only conceded the signatures will be tossed, but is completely oblivious to how this could have happened.
"Yes, it's being discussed," said Gisgie Gendreau, spokeswoman for Johnson.
The secretary of state will turn in a report of her findings in advance of the June 5 deadline of the Board of State Canvassers, which will ultimately determine whether McCotter qualifies for the ballot. If criminal activity is suspected, such as forgery or fraud in the gathering or delivery of the signatures, a criminal referral would be made to the Attorney General's Office, which would handle a potential investigation. So far, the Secretary of State's Office has provided preliminary information to the AG's Office and will continue to work with it, Gendreau said.
He told The News' Nolan Finley last weekend that he's not sure what happened with the signatures and was resigned to the idea they would be ruled invalid. Considering a write-in campaign, he'll figure out his next steps after he returned from a congressional overseas trip last weekend. He and other write-in candidates would have until July 27 to file with the secretary of state.Wow, talk about disengagement. You've been an elected official for 20 years, and you have no clue at all how your petition signatures wound up invalid? Or that you didn't exercise the most basic oversight to make sure your canvassers didn't engage in funny business? To think that this guy not only wanted to be president, but was once the fifth-ranking Repub in the House (he was Republican Policy Committee chairman from 2007 to 2011).
To put this in perspective, it looks like McCotter will be the first sitting congressman since the late 1940s not to qualify for his party's primary. Add that to the fact that over 1,000 out of 2,000 signatures appear to be headed for the dumpster--possibly due to fraud--and this is embarrassment on an unprecedented scale.
Pass the popcorn.