Now that Steve Christopher stopped legal challenges because he couldn’t possibly end up on the ballot, the American Spectator picks up on the story.
Last night, Attorney General Steve Christopher was on the Matt Patrick show on WTAM to explain just how badly it appears Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner screwed up his petitions.
Click here to listen.
From the Steve Christopher for Attorney General Campaign:
As of today, March 12, 2010, Steve Christopher has given his attorney, David Langdon of Cincinnati, photocopies of all of the petitions that were filed with Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office on February 18. Langdon attempted to work with the Secretary of State’s office in an effort to find a resolution to the lost or misplaced petitions. It was Christopher’s intent to have these petitions sent to the proper county Boards of Elections so that the signatures on the petitions could be properly validated.
A fair and equitable agreement could not be reached with the Secretary of State’s Office. Steve Christopher has authorized Langdon to proceed with court action to secure his rightful position on the May Republican primary ballot. Due to the extremely restrictive time restraints regarding election laws, Christopher has no further time to wait for a resolution. Langdon has filed a complaint for writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court on Christopher’s behalf.
And Dennis Willard has a good column on it today in the Akron Beacon Urinal:
Jeff Ortega, a spokesman for Brunner, said the office does not count or check the signatures because that responsibility falls on the local boards.
”Nothing was lost. Nothing was misplaced. Everything was handled according to a proper chain of custody and we can prove it,” Ortega said.
He said an employee asked Christopher how many signatures were collected and, after hesitating, Christopher said ”2,750” and that was the number written down.
Ortega said the 788 total signatures were sent out to be checked and the local election boards reported back to Brunner that Christopher had collected 638 valid signatures and 166 invalid signatures.
Ahem, that’s 804 total signatures. Ortega said he would check on those figures and he responded via e-mail.
Ortega emphasized the focus is on valid signatures.
”Those numbers were double-checked by our office. The number of valid signatures is what is reflected in the letter notifying candidates whether they are or are not on the ballot,” he wrote.
But the numbers don’t add up.
”There may be some discrepancies in some of the numbers sent to us by the counties, but these are minor calculating errors that will be addressed via amended work sheets that counties will submit in the near future,” Ortega wrote.
He noted that ”Medina County reported 96 valid signatures, 18 invalid, adding up to 104. It should have been 96 valid, 8 invalid, which does add up to 104. One other county, Hardin, reported 101 valid, 6 invalid, but added it up as 101. Of course, it should have been 107.”
Of course. Why didn’t I see that in the first place?
”Again, these are minor discrepancies that do not affect the number of valid signatures,” Ortega wrote.[...]
By the end of the day, Christopher did what any self-respecting attorney always does. He sued Brunner.
Rankin succinctly pinpointed the situation now.
”The numerous allegations made by Mr. Christopher and his supporters must now be proved in a court of law, where the party bringing the charges bears the burden to prove them,” Rankin noted.
In other words, this is no longer a ”he said, she said” debate.
Christopher is going to have to prove he was bumped from the ballot either through omission or commission in Brunner’s office.
For Christopher, this is the chance of a political lifetime. By winning, he can show he was wronged and demonstrate he has the skills, an abundance of skills needed, to actually be attorney general.
Relevant documents documents can be found below the fold:
And he hired a prominent conservative lawyer to make sure she does her job:
Attorney David R. Langdon, representing Christopher, said he has sent Brunner’s office copies of the 140 part-petitions that he says were not sent to county boards and is asking Brunner to forward them.
If Brunner doesn’t respond or refuses to act, Langdon said he will file a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court today seeking an order to force Brunner to send the part-petitions to the counties and to have the counties put Christopher’s name on the ballot in case Christopher is later certified.
Brunner’s office is reviewing what Langdon submitted today, spokesman Kevin Kidder said. But he said the office still stands by its contention that Christopher turned in only 104 part-petitions.
There are more than enough signatures and personal accounts of signature collectors to completely demolish anything Brunner’s office can say. And no matter if this situation is corrected, we already see that Ohio has an incompetent Secretary of State.
Steve Christopher Update- Confirmation of the Excel File & Personal Reports from Signature Collectors
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!
As an update to my post from this morning, I have it from unimpeachable sources that the Sec of State’s office sent a spreadsheet to all the county BoE’s listing how many signatures were submitted by each statewide candidate. Under Steve Christopher’s name, the number was listed as 2,750—which matches the receipt Steve got the day he filed.
It’s a shame that Christopher doesn’t have the extra 734 signatures which the campaign received at the last minute. But the numbers don’t match anyway.
Brian Shinn and others in Secretary Jennifer Brunner’s office should be updating their resumes now. Heads are about to roll…
Over the weekend, I made fun of a few kook suggestions that Board of Election’s purposefully ruined Ohio AG candidate Steve Christopher’s petitions. But ever since, the buzz has been that there was a good old fashion example of incompetence, and as more details come out- Secretary of State Brunner is looking worse.
From James Nash in The Dispatch:
Nearly 2,000 petition signatures simply vanished in the hands of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a man whom Brunner disqualified from the May ballot for attorney general alleged yesterday.
Kenton lawyer Steve Christopher, a conservative Republican who had sought Ohio’s top legal job, was one of five candidates Brunner scrubbed from the ballot Friday for failing to turn in 1,000 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters.
While three have accepted Brunner’s judgment, Christopher and a U.S. Senate hopeful are accusing the state’s chief elections official of bungling the signature-verification process. The would-be Senate candidate, Traci “TJ” Johnson, had hoped to run in the Democratic primary in which Brunner is a candidate.
While Johnson is alleging a conflict of interest on Brunner’s part, Christopher’s charges are even more explosive. In effect, the lawyer says the secretary of state simply lost petition forms containing 1,962 signatures. His campaign says it turned in 2,750 signatures in all.[...]
Brunner’s office said the phantom signatures never existed.
The secretary of state said Christopher’s campaign submitted 788 signatures, of which 638 were deemed valid by county boards of elections. The candidate turned in 104 part-petitions, with 27 lines available for signatures on each part-petition, so the maximum number of signatures is 2,808, Brunner’s office said.[...]
Christopher’s wife, Jill, said the campaign has copies of about 2,000 signatures that it submitted to Brunner’s office. The campaign doesn’t have records of the 750 others because they were collected in the final hours before they were submitted Feb. 18, she said.
The problem here is, why would Secretary Brunner even bother to check the names at all, if there weren’t at least the minimum requirement of 1000? I think the very fact that she is looking is proof that her office thinks they screwed up.
Below is Brunner’s receipt showing that he filed approximately 2750 signatures… along with his “disqualification letter.”
And below that is the “worklogs,” showing how many signatures and petitions were sent out from Brunner’s office to various counties. The problem here is that they do not match with reality at all. TEA party activists swear that the number of reported circulators in many counties are far too low.
Steve Christopher Receipt for 2750 Sigs
Steve Christopher Sec of State Worklog
Brunner’s office messed up, and is too busy running a partisan office with allowing the homeless to register at park benches and working on behalf of gambling interests…. and not to mention running for the US Senate…. to do the job she was elected to do. Brunner is am embarrassment and I’m glad Christopher isn’t backing down.
If any Christopher petition gatherers want to tell their story and dispute these numbers, please send me an email.
Update: Bill Hershey reports in the Dayton Daily’s political blog:
Christopher’s campaign has said he has copies of a majority but not all of the petitions he submitted to Brunner’s office.
Meanwhile, Phil Herzing of Washington Township said that he gathered about 100 signatures on his own for Christopher’s campaign, most of which came from Montgomery County. Some came from Warren and Greene counties. Including the 100 he gathered himself, he and acquaintances gathered about 400 signatures from Montgomery, Greene, Miami and neighboring counties.
Herzing said he collected 60 signatures gathered by a woman from Mercer County. Brunner’s log showed no signatures from Mercer County.
Brunner’s office released a log that her office sent only four signatures from Montgomery County voters to the Montgomery County Board of Elections for validation and that all four were validated.
Something is rotten in the state of Ohio. And someone, such as Brian Shinn, is about to get fired.
I keep hearing that the buzz is, Jennfer Brunner completely screwed up by misplacing signatures for Attorney General candidate Steve Christopher. Grand conspiracies in government aren’t nearly as common as just plain, old fashioned incompetence. There hasn’t been more media updates about it, but this is what the Dayton Daily News reported yesterday.
And in other news, Jennybenny got slapped down for her latest efforts to try to “expose” a conservative 501c4′s group donors, even though there is no legal precedence for such organizations having to do so (Just ask Progress Ohio!).
The latest development is that Brunner can’t issue subpoenas to people who don’t live in Ohio. She is an attorney and a former judge- How does she not understand the law?
The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order yesterday putting on hold, pending a final determination, the last of the remaining subpoenas from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a dispute about the funding behind a proposed referendum.
Last week, the court delayed enforcement of subpoenas issued to people affiliated with LetOhioVote.org, the group seeking the referendum on whether to add electronic slot machines at horse tracks, as well as to Tim Crawford, president of New Models, the Virginia-based nonprofit that was LetOhioVote.org’s sole source of funding last year.
Yesterday, the court also delayed a subpoena issued to Norm Cummings, identified as a consultant for LetOhioVote.org living in Colorado. Cummings and Crawford had argued that Brunner cannot issue subpoenas out of state.
While state government should always be transparent, here is a classic example of why private political organizations should not have to be. The purpose of Brunner’s witch hunt is a purely political one: to expose donors and make sure they feel political retribution. Basically, this means the state, on your dime, is doing the work on behalf of the gambling interest that Chris and Kim Redfern lobby for- MTR. Does no one else find this outrageous?
I loved the idea of a conservative alternative to Mike DeWine for Attorney General. DeWine’s brand of Republicanism just doesn’t appeal to me.
But this is pure insanity:
Yeah, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner worked with every county board of elections, which each consists of the same number of Republicans and Democrats, to conspire and disqualify as many votes as possible to keep Steve Christopher off the ballot.
I can see the black helicopters over Columbus now.
From Columbus Dispatch super blogger James Nash:
Two conservative candidates for Ohio attorney general have been disqualified from the ballot, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office announced this afternoon.
Steve Christopher, a northwest Ohio lawyer who had sought Tea Party backing in the Republican Party primary against Mike DeWine, did not file enough valid signatures to make the ballot, Brunner’s office said.
Within a range of 5 more or less, I’ve heard different totals as to how many people bothered to show up at the meeting last night. Regardless, as I mentioned, the turnout was low. Compare that to the Ohio GOP, which requires a 2/3rds quorum.
AG candidate Steve Christopher was not invited to speak, even though he was in attention. The rumor is, one person failed to make a timely motion to make sure he could speak. But no matter the reason, it was rude. Cuyahoga County GOP Rob Frost should apologize to Christopher.
Here is the website, which includes a new video of him introducing himself while taking healthy shots at Mike DeWine and AG Rich Cordray:
Gosh, I haven’t heard someone in the Attorney General race sound like a Republican since Yost left. I really hope Christopher keeps this up.
Nothing warms the cockles of my evil conservative heart more than seeing video like this.
Featured in the video is Attorney General candidate Steve Christopher and Mike Wilson, who is running for the 28th Ohio House District seat currently occupied by Connie Pillich.
To all the Right Ohio bloggers. I gave money to Mike DeWine. Back in 2000, I worked on his first senate campaign. I thought he was a conservative; that’s the way he ran. If you could have known ahead of time that he would do what he did, then my hat’s off to you.
Like a lot of conservatives, I misjudged the man. I also contributed and worked on campaigns for other guys. Some stayed true and some didn’t. You quit supporting the ones that sell out. Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils. You can get involved and try to influence the system or just sit back and watch as it gets worse.
I’ve chosen not to sit back and watch. I was early on a supporter of Dave Yost. When he left the AG race, I waited for another conservative to step forward. Nobody did. Reluctantly, I stepped up to fill the gap. Check me out; you should ask questions, whether of me or anyone else who seeks public office. I applaud you for your skepticism. I hope you will accept my explanation. I will never put the people who support me in the position, years later, of having to explain why.
As to my YouTube video, I don’t know who posted it. I had no plans to run for office when I gave that speech. It may not be artful, but it is heartfelt. If you want to know where I stand, start with the YouTube speech.
The YouTubes he is referring to are 3 amateur videos posted of his speech at a local TEA party rally in Kenton (Hardin County). The audio is bad, but he talks about the founding of our country, conservative principles, and gun rights in a style that I couldn’t imagine Mike DeWine repeating without spontaneously combusting into flames.
Thank you Steve for your response.
I have made my strong disapproval of Mike DeWine known. As Ohio’s Senator, he showed himself to be a man who lacks principles and helped destroy the Republican party brand. Since the Attorney General is not on the apportionment board, I couldn’t blame a conservative who doesn’t vote for Mike in November.
So how exciting it was this afternoon to hear that DeWine was going to get some primary heat from the right. And he happens to be a professor from the same school that DeWine attended law school:
Hardin County attorney Steve Christopher today, Feb. 8, said he is running for the Republican nomination for attorney general against former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine of Cedarville.
“I feel like the moderates and conservatives need to have a candidate for attorney general who’s not a professional politician and a liberal, which DeWine and Cordray both are,” Christopher, 51, who is part of the Tea Party movement, said by phone.[...]
Christopher said he is a township trustee in Hardin County where he lives on a farm near Forest. He has law offices in Kenton and Findlay in Hancock County, where he filed his designation of campaign treasurer form.
“The overriding theme (of the campaign) is that we need a conservative on the ballot, someone who understands the constitution,” said Christopher.
He also is an adjunct professor at Ohio Northern University. DeWine attended law school at Ohio Northern.
Great! Pro-constitution! Smaller government! Liberal bashing! All stuff I approve of.
BUT, a quick look at campaign finance reports shows that Mr. Christopher has been quite a fan of Mike DeWine, writing substantial checks to DeWine’s campaigns:
6/29/04 Primary 2006-2006 $5
6/26/02 General 2006-2006 $10
2/11/02 Primary 2006-2006 $1,000
10/3/00 GENERAL 2000-2000 $650
9/8/00 GENERAL 2000-2000 $300
7/12/00 GENERAL 2000-2000 $25
9/2/99 PRIMARY 2000-2000 $1,000
8/10/94 GENERAL 1994-1994 $1,000
3/31/94 PRIMARY 1994-1994 $100
10/26/92 GENERAL 1992-1992 $700
10/22/92 GENERAL 1992-1992 $75
10/22/92 GENERAL 1992-1992 $75
8/24/92 GENERAL 1992-1992 $100
So why would a candidate who embodies the principles of conservatism donate thousands of dollars to a “liberal career politician” like Mike DeWine? That’s not very TEA partyish.
I also noticed he donated at least $1800 to pro-trial lawyer (anti-tort reform) American Association for Justice PAC. hmmmm