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Apparent Ballot Petition Fraud Involving Democrat Campaign Discovered In Another Indiana County

‘Most of what they turned in to us were not even registered voters,’ Roush said. 


The plot thickens in the ballot petition fraud investigation in Indiana involving Democrat presidential candidate Dean Phillips’ campaign, with a second county now reporting potentially hundreds of bad signatures. 

Meanwhile, the Phillips camp blames an outside firm for the faulty petitions in what’s starting to look like Michigan’s unprecedented petition fraud scandal that knocked several candidates for governor off the 2022 ballot. 

Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush told The Federalist that a petition carrier working on behalf of the Phillips campaign turned in 42 pages of petitions with approximately 400 names.

“Most of what they turned in to us were not even registered voters,” Roush said. 

The clerk added that only 149 of the individuals listed on the petition were registered to vote in the county. Many of the pages included incomplete or suspect information and several signatures appeared to be from the same individual on closer review, she said.

Roush called the police. 

“This whole thing is junk,” the clerk said. 

West-central Indiana’s Tippecanoe County, home to Purdue University, is at least the second Hoosier State county raising red flags about apparent petition fraud involving Phillips’ campaign. 

As I reported last week, Indiana State Police have opened up an investigation in St. Joseph County, where Clerk Amy Rolfes and her staff late last month discovered hundreds of what appeared to be fraudulent petition signatures and addresses. 

Rolfes said a Phillips campaign volunteer showed up on Jan. 26 with about 53 pages of petitions to help get the candidate 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. 

Many of the signatures appeared phony, and the petitions included street addresses and zip codes that do not exist, Rolfes said. Ultimately, the clerk’s office could only validate 19 of the 530 individuals that signed Phillips’ petition. 

The county clerks told The Federalist that they dealt with different petition submitters. 

Michigan Again?

Phillips campaign officials have said the “small business” hired “to conduct signature collection, as many campaigns do,” is responsible. 

“The campaign has been made aware of evidence that this third-party business was fraudulent in its representations of signature collection to the campaign. The campaign is exploring legal action,” Phillips’ campaign told ABC 57 following revelations of apparent petition fraud in St. Joseph County. 

The campaign has not returned The Federalist’s multiple requests for comment over the past week, including an email on Tuesday asking for the name of the contractor and whether the campaign has sought charges against the firm.  

Indiana State Police Sgt. Ted Bohner said he could not comment on the ongoing investigation. 

For some, the petition fraud complaints are beginning to look a lot like Michigan 2022, when former Detroit police chief James Craig and wealthy businessman Perry Johnson, among others, missed making the ballot in Michigan’s race for governor after state elections officials found thousands of invalid signatures on their petitions. Perhaps best known for his “Two Cents to Save America” U.S. debt relief plan, Johnson dropped out of a long-shot campaign for president last fall. Craig was perhaps the GOP’s most well-known gubernatorial candidate. 

Both claim they were duped by Shawn Wilmoth, his wife Jamie Wilmoth-Goodin, and Willie Reed. Wilmoth and Reed have been charged with conducting a criminal enterprise to defraud several political campaigns. In all, the three operatives are accused of defrauding six campaigns for Michigan governor and three judicial campaigns. They charged more than $700,000 combined for valid signature collection, “then knowingly delivered thousands of forged signatures on nomination petitions,” according to the Michigan attorney general’s office. Seven of the candidates were disqualified from appearing on the ballot, while another candidate withdrew. 

At a preliminary hearing last month, the disqualified candidates testified that the tens of thousands of signatures collected cost their campaigns $11 apiece, Bridge Michigan reported.

Shawn Wilmoth has a record of election fraud. In 2011, he was convicted on two counts of election fraud in Virginia after being “accused of instructing employees to fraudulently sign petition pages.”

“A statement of facts entered as part of the plea reveals that Wilmoth hired two ex-cons, who were ineligible to collect petition signatures under state law, and asked them to not only collect signatures but to sign as a witness on dozens of petition sheets filled with signatures they did not collect,” reported at the time. 

While the Indiana county clerks who discovered the apparent petition fraud could not identify the signature collection firm in question, Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush said the main carrier who brought in Phillips’ petitions is from Illinois.

The Federalist has reached out to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office for comment.  

Rolfes said the overarching problem is a lack of oversight in the petition collection trade, which has had its share of troubles over the years. She thinks a change may be coming, demanded by political campaigns. 

“This is an instance where people are going to start asking for a little more accountability,” the St. Joseph County clerk said. 

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