Four members of former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's staff were formally charged with election fraud on Thursday, as reported by MLive and other media outlets. The charges, which were announced by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, included some 34 counts of felony and misdemeanor forgery and fraud.
The Detroit Free Press quoted Schuette on Thursday as he affirmed that "criminal acts were committed." He went on to say that the four staffers in question likely committed the same acts in McCotter's 2008 election as well. The four are charged with allegedly submitting both false and reproduced signatures on petitions that were submitted to the state in order to place McCotter on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
Here is some of the key information to come out of Schuette's announcement on Thursday.
* Schuette's announcement was preceded by the release of the official report detailing the state's investigation into the allegations.
* In the report, the state investigator lists in detail some of the instances in which signatures from previous petitions were allegedly cut-and-pasted, as well as instances of forgery.
* McCotter's former Deputy District Director, Don Yowchuang, features prominently in the investigator's report, and he faces the most charges related to the former representative's ballot petitions, according to the Detroit News and the Associated Press.
* Yowchuang faces 17 counts in total, 11 felonies and six misdemeanors. District Director Paul Seewald faces an additional 10 counts, which include one felony and nine misdemeanor charges. District representative Mary Melissa Turnbull faces one felony and one misdemeanor charge, while former scheduler Lorianne O'Brady faces five misdemeanor charges. All four reportedly worked in McCotter's Livonia office earlier this year.
* Schuette told the media on Thursday that McCotter would not be facing charges at this time, saying that there was no direct evidence that he was involved firsthand in the alleged forgeries or other fraudulent actions of his staff. He did place some blame on the former U.S. representative however, for being "asleep at the switch," as quoted by MLive.
* Schuette also criticized McCotter for what he referred to as "disgraceful" conduct, and promised that despite the lack of charges against McCotter himself, if new evidence were to come to light going forward his office would investigate it without regard to political affiliation, according to the Detroit News.
* McCotter himself released a statement on Thursday thanking the state attorney general's office for its "earnest, thorough work on this investigation," and stated that he and his family would now return to the "enduring blessings of private life," as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.
- Politics & Government
- Crime & Justice
- Thaddeus McCotter