Things only get worse for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, as there is no way for them to definitely prove they didn’t receive extra signatures. This is from the Steve Christopher for Attorney General campaign:
Yesterday, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner issued a press release entitled, “SECRETARY BRUNNER RESPONDS TO UNFOUNDED ALLEGATIONS.” In this release, Secretary Brunner stated that she did not know why Steve Christopher would not contact her office. In fact, a representative for the Christopher campaign did visit the Secretary of State’s office on Monday regarding this situation. In this meeting, it was reiterated by Secretary of State personnel that the 788-signature count would stand. Election laws are very specific and if Christopher would have waited for a resolution, he would have lost his legal recourse to be placed on the ballot. Christopher retained legal representation to ensure his right to be on the ballot. Christopher’s legal counsel is attempting to arrange a meeting with the Secretary of State’s office, and will discuss the issue of the campaign’s copies of its petitions.
Secretary Brunner states, in this same press release, that the number of signatures purported on the receipt is given by the candidate. The number of signatures on the receipt given to Christopher was filled out by a Secretary of State employee. The employee accepting these petitions does this for a living and could easily detect a discrepancy of almost 2,000 signatures, merely by size of the stack of paper.
Today we obtained an Excel spreadsheet file that was created and distributed by the Secretary of State’s office to all 88 Ohio county Boards of Elections. This spreadsheet was created on February 18th at 5:51 PM, over five hours after Steve’s petition submittal. We can produce this document upon request, pending the approval of the campaign’s attorney.
It sounds like total incompetence at the Secretary of State’s office, which is backed up by reports from those who personally went around their neighborhoods collecting signatures…
First, from Phil Herzing in Dayton:
I see that a narrative has developed: Steve Christopher is crazy. He can’t count, and wasted all his time going to the Sec. of State’s office to turn in a pile of signatures that he ought to have known was inadequate. Except that I called the S.o.S. office myself to inquire after the location of the signatures I myself gathered (about 90). Montgomery County Board of Elections only received 4 (you read right: FOUR) for validation. A nice young lady named Alison in the Brunner’s office claims that the candidate never turned them in.
Fair enough, I said to her. “Suppose in a couple years I want to run for some office, and I have to turn in my nominating petitions in the Secretary of State’s office, like Christopher did last month. What process do I have to follow to ensure that I don’t end up in the same boat that he’s in now, holding a receipt for 2750 submitted signatures, but being subsequently told that I only turned in 788?”
(A Their word against mine. More precisely, their word on Feb 18th versus their word now!)
“What procedure does your office have in place to prevent discrepancies like this?”
The answer I got: “We don’t have one.”
“In other words, the receipt you give out is worthless. Is that what you’re telling me now?”
So, in the absence of any verifiable proof that Brunner’s office is telling me the truth, I guess I’m free to believe whom I choose. Since I gathered nearly 100 signatures myself, I choose to believe that the Candidate turned them in. Why shouldn’t I?
And this is from Thea Shoemake, Vice Chair of the Clermont County GOP Central Committee:
On Wednesday, February 17, Steve Christopher spoke to the Clermont County Central Committee in Batavia. He was very well-received. In addition to the signatures I procured for him in Clermont, a few other people who had been circulating his petitions here as well as in neighboring counties, came to the meeting that night to hand-deliver them to Steve. I’m estimating that he had – from that stop alone – approx. 300 signatures from Clermont, Warren & Hamilton counties (combined). It was my understanding that Steve was going to drive to Columbus after the meeting – petitions in hand – and would file the next day. Somewhere between then and March 5th, those signatures ceased to exist, including my own and other committee members’ (which I know are valid).
Here is the information that I have confirmed with our county Board of Elections:
1. The SoS’s office sent out a worksheet of estimated signatures from all candidates, parties & races (ours reads 2,750 for Christopher).
2. The next step in the process dictates that the SoS then sends the candidates’ petitions back to the respective county BoE’s for validation.
a. Attached is the Directive sent by the SoS regarding Steve Christopher’s petitions. Near the end it reads:
§ “Please return the original completed certification form and part petitions to this office by a trackable method; e.g., in person or by certified U.S. Mail, U.S. Post Office Express Mail, UPS, or Fed EX.”
b. But according to our BoE, none were ever received from the SoS office. So where are those Clermont petitions? Where are the others? This isn’t about the validity of the signatures, it’s about signatures that never made it back to the counties for validation.
While we could speculate ad nauseam about other scenarios and their suppositional motives, at the end of the day, the issue at hand is that many Ohioans just got “lost in transmission,” and it is in the best interest of everyone involved to get definitive answers and an acceptable resolution.
And from Kimberly Fletcher, President and Founder of Homemakers for America, in Dayton:
I would be happy to comment on this issue.
I opened my home for an entire day during those huge snow days and despite the terrible weather I had 65 people file in my house apologizing all the way for tramping through my living room wet snow covered boots. And I just looked at them and said with a big smile, “You just bring those patriotic, snow covered boots right in her and sign. This is much important than a floor or carpet.”
I collected signatures at church, community events, door to door for a week in the snow. My friend Phil and I organized signing parties. He took south Dayton and I took north. I had all the petitions and I needed to get them to him but I was heading to Cleveland for a speaking engagement (where I also collected signatures) so we coordinated a drop site. I told him I would just drive down I 75 find a good place and leave the envelope and then let him know where to pick it up. I found an old abandoned building just off the Main St exit downtown Dayton. He picked them up that afternoon and started gathering signatures. He had over 100 people meet him at Starbucks to sign petitions. It was like this over the state.
Once we had our petitions done we organized drop sites for Steve to pick them up. I took all my petitions and the ones people collected from north Dayton to Miami county where there several more waiting. Others dropped theirs at the south drop point. The Steve drove through and picked them up. It was amazing. Because of all our efforts we collected over 2000 signatures in four days. Steve already had 800 he had already had turned in to him. This is the power of the people in action. Ms. Brunner and ever corrupt politician out there should be shaking in their boots. We the people are rising up and in America the people rule. Ms. Brunner might want to remind herself of that. We are her boss. And the boss is not happy with her performance.
And this is just the surface of dedicated conservative activists who worked hard to collect signatures, but somehow Secretary of State Brunner’s office lost them. But with at least 2000 of the signatures photocopied and in the hands of Steve Christopher, he has a strong legal case to make here.
Stay tuned for more details!