The man at the center of it was convicted of election fraud in Virginia involving…fraudulent signatures.
The top two Republican candidates for Michigan governor and three other candidates might not make the ballot due to invalid signatures.
From The Detroit News:
Former Detroit police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, two of the top candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, didn’t submit enough valid petition signatures to make the ballot, according to findings from the Michigan Bureau of Elections.
The bureau’s revelations Monday evening shook up the 2022 race to be Michigan’s governor, potentially leaving Republicans without their most well-known candidate, Craig, and without their wealthiest hopeful, Johnson.
If the bureau’s reviews hold, five of the 10 candidates who submitted signatures to run for governor wouldn’t make the ballot. Three other GOP candidates for governor were also found to have insufficient signatures: financial adviser Michael Markey of Grand Haven, Michigan State Police Capt. Michael Brown of Stevensville and entrepreneur Donna Brandenburg of Byron Center.
The Bureau of Elections tied the fraudulent signatures to 36 circulators and one company. The bureau does not think the candidates had any idea what happened or had involvement in the scheme.
The report only mentioned the “head of the firm” as the person responsible. It linked to articles about Michigan man Shawn Wilmoth and his company First Choice Contracting LLC. Wilmoth had some legal troubles in Florida and Virginia concerning fraudulent signatures:
The Free Press reported in 2017 that Wilmoth was a one-time officer of Signature Masters — a company hired to collect signatures for the problem-plagued Clean Michigan petition drive to create a part-time Legislature — and was convicted of election fraud in Virginia in 2011.
Wilmoth pleaded guilty in September 2011 to two felony counts of election fraud and was sentenced to two concurrent five-year sentences, with four years and eight months of the sentence suspended on the condition of good behavior and repayment of court and extradition costs, according to a 2011 report in the online publication Arlington Now. Wilmoth also was placed on probation for three years.
According to Arlington Now, Wilmoth admitted to hiring two people with criminal records who were ineligible to collect petition signatures under Virginia law and asking them to both collect signatures and sign as witnesses on dozens of petition sheets filled with signatures they did not collect.
Brown admitted he hired First Choice and had conversations with Wilmoth:
But Brown said he completed his signatures early and believes those he received from circulators associated with First Choice were legitimate. Those circulators — and all their signatures — were disqualified for work they later did for candidates scrambling to meet the filing deadline, Brown said he believes.
“It appears that after my campaign’s signature gathering was complete, individuals independently contracted for a portion of our signature gathering and validation jumped onto other campaigns and went on a money grab,” he said. “They were involved in allegedly fraudulent signature gathering activities with these campaigns causing the Michigan Bureau of Elections to declare all of the signatures connected to those individuals as invalid. I cannot and will not be associated with this activity.”
Brown could not reach Wilmoth on Monday night, determining the man is “in the wind.”
Craig claimed he did not hire Wilmoth or First Choice “to his knowledge.” He said he will investigate if “Wilmoth might have been involved as a subcontractor.”DONATE
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