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4 Indiana Dems Charged With Election Fraud In 2008

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4 Indiana Dems charged with election fraud in 2008
By Eric Shawn @ Fox News

Felony charges related to election fraud have  touched the 2008 race for the highest office in the land.

Prosecutors in South Bend, Ind., filed charges  Monday against four St. Joseph County Democratic officials and deputies as part  of a multiple-felony case involving the alleged forging of Democratic  presidential primary petitions in the 2008 election, which put then-candidates Barack  Obama and Hillary  Clinton on the Indiana ballot.

The officials are accused of taking part in a scheme  to fake signatures and names on the primary petitions needed to run for  president. Court papers say the plan was hatched by local Democratic  Party officials inside the local party headquarters.

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Among those charged is the former long-time chairman  of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party, Butch Morgan, who allegedly ordered  the forgeries. He was forced to resign when the allegations were first made  public last October, even though his lawyer, Shaw Friedman, told Fox News at the  time that Morgan did not do anything wrong.

The St. Joseph County Board of Voter Registration‘s  Democratic board member, Pam Brunette, Board of Voter Registration worker  Beverly Shelton and Democratic volunteer and former board worker Dustin Blythe  also face charges.

According to affidavits, St. Joseph County Voter  Registration Office worker Lucas Burkett told investigators that he was part of  the plan that started in January 2008 “to forge signatures on presidential  candidate petitions instead of collecting actual signatures from citizens.”

The documents state that Burkett told investigators  that “he was heavily involved in St. Joseph County political activities with the  local Democratic party,” and that “he had, in fact, personally forged several  such signatures,” and had attended meetings at the local Democratic party  headquarters, where it was agreed to forge the petitions. Morgan, the County  Democratic Chairman, allegedly “instructed Mr. Burkett, Pamela Brunette, Beverly  Shelton, and Dustin Blythe to forge ballot petitions for presidential  candidates,” and that “all of them agreed to follow these instructions” by  copying names and signatures from old election petitions.

According to affidavits, Burkett told investigators  it was his job to “forge petitions for candidate Barack Obama,” Shelton “was  assigned to forge petitions for candidate Hillary Clinton” and Blythe “was  assigned to forge petitions for candidate John  Edwards.” When Edwards dropped out of the race at the end of January 2008  and Burkett refused to continue the forgeries, Morgan allegedly ordered Blythe  to then forge petitions for Barack Obama.

Indiana State Police investigators identified a  total of 22 petitions that appeared to be faked, yet sailed through the Voter  Registration Board as legitimate documents. The signature of the board’s  Republican supervisor, Linda Silcott, which is required for legal certification,  appeared to be rubber stamped on the documents. She told investigators that she  did not remember signing or authorizing her rubber stamp to be used.

Silcott also told investigators that she recognized  the handwriting on the alleged forged Obama petitions as that of Blythe’s.

The South Bend Tribune and independent political  newsletter Howey Politics Indiana have reported that a handwriting analyst  concluded last fall that Blythe’s handwriting matched some of the alleged Obama  fakes. When Fox News caught up to Blythe as he left the Voter Registration Board  last November and asked him if he forged any signatures or faked any petitions,  he repeatedly replied, “I don’t have anything to say.”

The case raises the possibility that the president’s  campaign and that of Clinton’s, could have been legally challenged in Indiana if  the alleged forgeries were discovered during the race.

Under state law, presidential candidates need to  qualify with 500 signatures from each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts.  Indiana elections 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.

But the signatures, which were certified by the  elections board, were never challenged. If the number of legitimate signatures  for Obama or Clinton fell below the legal requirement of 500, they could have  been bounced from the state ballot. Reports have previously put the number of  phony signatures for both candidates at about 150, but state investigators  plucked names from the petitions at random and cited only 20 individual alleged  forgeries as part of their case. They say their investigation of the petitions  continues.

Multiple voters, including Indiana’s former  Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan, told Fox News that their names and signatures were  phonies.

“That’s not my signature,” Charity Rorie told Fox  News as she sat in her kitchen in Mishawaka, Ind.. The mother of four was  stunned that her name and signature, and those of her husband, appeared on one  of the Obama petitions. She said they “absolutely” were fakes and was troubled  that personal details such as their address and birthdays were also  included.

“It was shocking,” she said. “Why did they do that,  and where did they get it from?”

“I did not sign for Barack Obama,” Democratic voter  Robert Hunter told Fox News as he stared at the Obama petition that included his  name and purported signature supporting the candidate. While he observed that  the scrawl looked “very close” to his real one, it was not.

“I always put ‘Junior’ after my name, every time…  there’s no ‘Junior’ there,” Hunter told us. “I don’t like anybody using my name  for anything other than myself.”

“It’s scary,” Charity said. “A lot of people have  already lost faith in politics and the realm of politics and that solidifies our  worries and concerns.”

As for Burkett, a 26-year-old lifelong Democrat, “he  is the whistle-blower in this,” his lawyer, Andrew B. Jones, told Fox News.
“Lucas really is the hero in this situation. He is someone who stood up for  good government, and has cooperated with the state police and will continue to  do so.”

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