A tea partier listens to Tim Pawlenty at a Boston, Mass. rally (Winslow Townson/AP)Former Oakland County Democratic party official Jason Bauer pleaded no contest Monday to five felony charges related to an alleged 2010 plan to place "fake" tea party candidates on multiple election ballots in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Under the alleged scheme, dummy third-party tea party candidates would help siphon conservative votes away from Republican candidates. The resulting split in the conservative vote would, according to the plan, boost the candidate on the Democratic ballot. Several of the people listed as tea party candidates said they didn't even know that they had been listed on the ballots, the newspaper reports.
Bauer, the former operations director for the Oakland County Democrats, was charged in March with corruption in the tea party case, together with the county Democratic chairman, Mike McGuinness. Other related charges in the case included forging signatures on candidate affidavits and perjury. Bauer drew an additional charge of notary fraud in his indictment. McGuinness pleaded no contest to two felony charges last month.
Adding insult to felony for the two defendants, the alleged Oakland County scheme wasn't even successful. The state Supreme Court disqualified the phony local tea-party slate prior to the elections.
With the rise of the tea party in 2010, similar accusations of scheming Democratic officials backing bogus tea party candidates cropped up across the country.
In addition to the Oakland County case in Michigan, another corruption case involving a dummy tea-party organization came before the courts in Florida. In that case, then-Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson was accused of propping up Democrats posing as members of the Florida TEA Party. Several of the cases against the TEA Party-- including one federal suit--were dismissed.
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