Calls for criminal investigation with 'unprecedented' fraud poised to sideline 5 Michigan gov candidates

May 24, 2022, 3:58 PM

James Craig at his 2021 campaign launch (Photo: Michael Lucido)

State Republicans and Democrats are requesting a criminal investigation into an unusually high number of invalid petition signatures submitted by GOP gubernatorial candidates seeking to get on August's primary ballot.

Norm Shinkle, a Republican on the Board of State Canvassers, tells The Detroit News: "We have to be serious about putting several people in jail," after 10 candidates submitted a total 68,000 invalid petition signatures. The Elections Bureau has said it has no reason to believe the candidates or their campaigns were aware of the problem.

Elections officials describe the level of fraud as unprecedented. From The Washington Post:

Some of the fraudulent petition sheets tended to show “no evidence of normal wear,” or showed evidence of having been “round-tabled,” a practice in which each person in a group takes turns signing one line of a petition in an attempt to make the signatures appear authentic, the bureau said.

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, one of the five candidates at risk of being sidelined over the invalid signatures, called on Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate in a Detroit Free Press interview:

"I do believe this was a well-planned and orchestrated effort to get me off the ballot," Craig said. ... "I'm being robbed of the opportunity to be on the ballot and let Michigan voters decide who should represent the GOP."

On the other side of the political aisle, former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer agreed that any witting forgerers, including campaign employees or petition companies, should be prosecuted.

“The proof just keeps piling up of a massive forgery scheme,” he told Bridge Michigan. Brewer challenged Craig's petitions.

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