UPDATED: Charges to Be Filed Against 4 of Thaddeus McCotter's Former Staffers in Election Fraud Case
The charges were announced Thursday morning by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced this morning that charges will be filed against four of Thaddeus McCotter's former campaign staffers in connection with a bizarre election fraud scandal leading to the former U.S. Congressman's resignation.
McCotter is not expected to be charged.
The staffers are accused of cutting and pasting some duplicate signatures while falsifying others for McCotter's re-election petition to get on the August 2012 primary ballot. He would have run against Kerry Bentivolio as the Republican incumbent to represent Michigan's 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. When the petition was thrown out by the Secretary of State's office, McCotter announced a write-in campaign which he later suspended. Not long after, McCotter resigned the remainder of his term citing the "nightmarish" toll the election had taken on him. Bentivolio, the only Republican on the primary ballot, ultimately won the election against write-ins including Nancy Cassis.
"The McCotter crew acted as if they were above the law, that the law did not apply to them. They are sadly mistaken," Schuette said in a press release. "Election fraud will not be tolerated and this brazen attitude of indifference by public servants is disgraceful."
According to the press release, four people in McCotter's Livonia office face 34 counts of misdemeanor and felony charges:
- Don Yowchuang, 33 of Farmington Hills, district deputy director, faces 17 counts: 10 counts of election law forgery, one count of conspiracy and six counts of falsely signing a nominating petition.
- Paul Seewald, 47 of Livonia, district director, faces 10 counts: one count of conspiracy and nine counts of falsely signing a nomination petition.
- Mary Melissa Turnbull, 58 of Howell, faces one count of conspiracy and one count of falsely signing a nomination petition.
- Lorianne O’Brady, 52 of Livonia, scheduler, faces five counts of falsely signing a nominating petition.
Schuette, in a press conference this morning, said that the staff workers likely also committed the same petition frauds in the 2008 election, using 2006 signatures, the Detroit Free Press reports.
"In any position of public trust, the elected official has a duty to be engaged or involved," he said, according to WXYZ-TV's coverage of the press conference. Schuette accused McCotter of being "asleep at the switch."
He added in the press release: "If the defendants in this case had put the same amount of energy into collecting signatures as they did executing this elaborate scheme to manufacture fraudulent petitions, the outcome could have been different. Unfortunately, they chose to go down the road of felony election fraud, complete with cut and paste jobs that would make an elementary art teacher cringe."
Schuette said that if anyone else was found to be involved, that his office would not hesitate to charge them, WXYZ.com reports.
This story has been corrected at 10 a.m. on Aug. 10 from an earlier version correcting the charges listed for Lorianna O'Brady and Mary Melissa Turnbull.