May 25, 2022 - Politics

Widespread petition fraud rocks GOP governor's race

Illustration of an elephant wearing Groucho glasses.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Thousands of suspected fraudulent petition signatures submitted by GOP candidates could upend the governor's race.

Why it matters: Former Detroit Police chief James Craig, a frontrunner in the Republican primary for governor, is among the candidates facing disqualification from the Aug. 2 primary ballot, according to a Bureau of Elections report released Monday.

  • The bureau recommended five of the 10 GOP candidates for governor be disqualified for insufficient valid signatures after finding fraudulent petition sheets from 36 circulators and at least 68,000 invalid signatures across 10 sets of nominating petitions.

The intrigue: The bureau "does not have reason to believe" that candidates were aware of the fraudulent petition activities, according to the report.

What they're saying: "The Bureau is unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures, nor an instance in which it affected as many candidate petitions as at present," the report reads.

The other side: "I do believe this was a well-planned and orchestrated effort to get me off the ballot," Craig told the Detroit Free Press, adding that he welcomes a criminal investigation. "I'm being robbed of the opportunity to be on the ballot and let Michigan voters decide who should represent the GOP."

State of play: First Choice Contracting, headed by Shawn Wilmoth of Warren, is linked to the improper signatures, per the Free Press.

  • Michigan State Police Capt. Mike Brown, a candidate now ending his campaign, told the Free Press he hired First Choice to help collect signatures and spoke with Wilmoth several times.
  • Wilmoth has a history of election fraud.

What's next: The Board of State Canvassers meets Thursday to weigh the bureau's findings.

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