Charges filed year after phony signatures roiled Michigan race for governor
Jun 22, 2023, 5:18 AM
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Three people have been charged with forgery and other crimes in an investigation of phony petition signatures that spoiled the candidacies of five Republicans who were running for Michigan governor in 2022.
Attorney General Dana Nessel scheduled a news conference Thursday to discuss the charges, which were filed Tuesday in a Warren court in suburban Detroit.
Shawn Wilmoth, 36, Jamie Wilmoth, 36, and Willie Reed, 37, each face more than 20 charges, including election forgery and conducting a criminal enterprise, according to online court records.
Former Detroit police Chief James Craig and millionaire businessman Perry Johnson were considered to be strong candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, but they were barred from the August primary ballot.
State election officials said their petitions were rife with bogus signatures collected by paid petition circulators and, as a result, they didn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify. Three more candidates were also knocked off the ballot.
No candidate was personally accused of knowingly submitting fraudulent petitions.
The Wilmoths and Reed have not yet appeared in court. They could not immediately be reached for comment, and court records list no defense attorneys who could be asked about the charges.
Business and campaign records show Shawn Wilmoth was affiliated with First Choice Contracting LLC, a signature-collection company that was paid more than $200,000 by at least two disqualified candidates, the Detroit Free Press reported.
After the signature scandal, Tudor Dixon lost the general election to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Johnson lately has his eyes on a bigger prize: He’s been campaigning in Iowa for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.