Trial begins for officials accused in Obama, Clinton ballot petition fraud
The trial is underway for a former Democratic official and a Board of Elections worker who are accused of being part of a plot that has raised questions over whether President Obama's campaign -- when he was a candidate in 2008 -- submitted enough legitimate signatures to have legally qualified for the presidential primary ballot.
The two face charges of orchestrating an illegal scheme to fake the petitions that enabled then-candidates Obama, and Hillary Clinton, to qualify for the race in Indiana.
Former longtime St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Butch Morgan Jr. faces multiple felony conspiracy counts to commit petition fraud, and former county Board of Elections worker Dustin Blythe is charged with nine felony forgery counts and one felony count of falsely making a petition of nomination. The proceedings began Monday in South Bend.
Morgan is accused of being the mastermind behind the plot, by allegedly ordering Democratic officials and workers to fake the names and signatures that Obama and Clinton needed to qualify for the presidential race. Blythe, then a Board of Elections employee and Democratic Party volunteer, has been accused of carrying out those orders by forging signatures on Obama's petitions.
Two former Board of Elections officials have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme and could testify against Morgan and Blythe.
Former board worker Beverly Shelton, who allegedly was assigned the task of forging the petitions for Hillary Clinton, pleaded guilty in March to charges of forgery and falsely making a petition. The board's former Democratic head of voter registration, Pam Brunette, pleaded guilty in April to felony forgery, official misconduct, and falsifying a petition.
The alleged scheme was hatched in January of 2008, according to affidavits from investigators who cite former Board of Registration worker Lucas Burkett, who told them he was in on the plan at first, but then became uneasy and quit. He waited three years before telling authorities about it, but if revelations about any forgeries were raised during the election, the petitions could have been challenged during the contest. Any candidate who did not qualify with enough legitimate signatures at the time could have been bounced from the ballot.
The Indiana trial has raised questions about whether in 2008, candidate Obama actually submitted enough legitimate signatures to have legally qualified.
Under state law, presidential candidates need to qualify for the primary ballots with 500 signatures from each of the state's nine congressional districts. Indiana election officials say that in St. Joseph County, which is the 2nd Congressional District, the Obama campaign qualified with 534 signatures; Clinton's camp had 704.
Prosecutors say that in Obama's case, nine of the petition pages were apparently forged. Each petition contains up to 10 names, making a possible total of 90 names, which, if faked, could have brought the Obama total below the legal limit required to qualify.
Prosecutors say 13 Clinton petitions were apparently forged, meaning up to 130 possibly fake signatures. Even if 130 signatures had been challenged, it would have still left Clinton with enough signatures to meet the 500-person threshold.
An Indiana State Police investigator said in court papers that the agency examined the suspect Obama petitions and "selected names at random from each of the petition pages and contacted those people directly. We found at least one person (and often multiple people) from each page who confirmed that they had not signed" petitions "or given consent for their name and/or signature to appear." The case was charged citing 20 forgeries -- not the total number of possible fake entries -- because that was considered a sufficient amount to prosecute.
Numerous voters told Fox News that they never signed the petitions.
What does all of this mean? What are these signatures and what if Obama didn't get 90 signatures illegally? What would it all mean? And what would it mean now if it is proven that Obama did indeed get 90 signatures illegally in Indiana?
To be honest, nothing will happen to anybody but the guilty parties (Obama exempted).
In 2008, Obama and H Clinton were required to have 500 citizen signatures to be included on the Indiana ballot for president.
Without the 500 signatures, Indiana would not have voted for them.
Would he have still won the election without Indiana? I can't say for sure.
But even if he would have lost, the Democrats will make sure this get's swept under the rug.
Nothing will happen to him. Sadly.
Man! America sounds more like Argentina everyday. Politicians get away with murder. The populace doesn't give a crap.
Can't argue with you Nico.
Although, there are many of us here who really do care. It's just very difficult for us to do much about it.
Sorry, didn't mean you guys. I meant the majority that voted for Obama and his cronies.
No need to apologize. I know at times it can seem like the people in the US are very apathetic.
The people who voted for Obama are like robots. Doesn't matter what he and his party does, really.
But then again, that has been the Democrats disease for many years.
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