An Indiana State Police investigation into potential petition fraud by a volunteer for Democrat presidential candidate Dean Phillips’ campaign continues in St. Joseph County, where the local Democratic Party leader was convicted a decade ago on a petition forgery scheme.
St. Joseph County Clerk Amy Rolfes told The Federalist that she and her staff late last month discovered hundreds of what appeared to be fraudulent petition signatures and addresses. Rolfes alerted state elections officials and the State Patrol, which last week launched an investigation.
“They are making progress,” Rolfes said. “I know it’s not sitting. They’re taking it very seriously.”
Indiana State Police Sgt. Ted Bohner told The Federalist on Wednesday that he could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but said the review “is probably going to be lengthy.”
Rolfes said she knows the identity of the campaign volunteer but cannot release details at this time.
The clerk said the Phillips campaign volunteer showed up at the end of the business day on Jan. 25 with about 80 petition documents to help get Phillips on Indiana’s presidential ballot. The Minnesota congressman is running an improbable campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination against incumbent President Joe Biden. Indiana’s primary is scheduled for May 7.
Rolfes said many of the petition papers were lacking information, and that the campaign volunteer was advised to complete the forms and return. She was back at 11 a.m. the following day with 53 pages, all completed, Rolfes said. But the clerk and her staff noticed some problems right away.
“Curiously, there were addresses that simply did not exist. The streets did, but not the house numbers,” the clerk said. “We would look through and compare the signatures but there was nothing like them in the statewide system.”
Indiana’s local election offices are able to review voter signatures from a statewide database. The St. Joseph County staff seemed to be particularly diligent, although Rolfes said the discrepancies were “glaringly apparent.” They found phony zip codes and other anomalies.
“We kept saying, ‘That’s not valid. That’s not valid.’”
Rolfes’ office alerted the Indiana secretary of state’s Election Division. They were instructed to continue processing the remaining petitions and then call the State Police, she said. Rolfes and her team completed their review and agents were on the scene a few days later.
The Phillips campaign did not return The Federalist’s requests for comment.
Northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County, home to South Bend and its former leftist mayor-turned-incompetent transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, was the scene of an election fraud scheme in 2008.
Owen “Butch” Morgan, who served as St. Joseph County’s Democratic Party chair, was convicted in 2013 on felony conspiracy charges for forgery and petition fraud over his attempt to place Democrat presidential candidates including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the 2008 ballot. Owens served six months behind bars, according to WNDU. He died in 2023. Three other Democrats were also convicted.
Rolfes suspects “absolute apathy” was involved in the latest incident of alleged petition fraud.
“They thought, ‘They’re never going to look.’ That had to be the mindset. It’s like cheating on homework,” the clerk said. “What I know is we were doing our jobs. … I feel that’s the first line of defense in election integrity: do your job. If more people did, maybe we would see more of this stuff coming to light.”
St. Joseph County Councilwoman Amy Drake, who has previously written for The Federalist, said she and fellow Republican Rolfes campaigned together for their respective offices in 2022 on election integrity issues — particularly former Democrat County Clerk Rita Glenn’s reported violations of absentee ballot room access protocols.
“Glenn is alleged to have entered a secure ballot room the day before the May 3,  primary election without following the proper access procedure. After going into the room, she was seen on video throwing away what looks like rolls of paper, possibly from that room,” ABC 57 reported.
Rolfes went on to win the election, and she got to work on the absentee ballot room locks at the root of the Glenn controversy. She became the first Republican to win the office, according to the St. Joseph County GOP.
“Her message to our county is that she sincerely is focused on election security — at a time when voters really care about this issue because of questions about national election integrity,” Drake said.
Leftist groups and their allies in the accomplice media have long tried to silence stories of election fraud and related malfeasance, declaring such assertions are the fever dream of conspiracy theorists.
“Election fraud is not a conspiracy theory in St. Joseph County. It is real. This incident demonstrates why signature requirements and photo identification are essential elements of ensuring our elections are honest and fair,” Rolfes said.