Last week, the OC District Attorney’s office seized all 10,696 petitions signed to recall Scott Peotter because of “potential irregularities”, which they believe may constitute fraud. Recall Peotter Committee organizer Susan Skinner told the OC Register that “[…] the warrant is sealed, but I understand that one of the paid petitioners allegedly forged signatures,” Skinner said. “This is a big, bad violation of election law and not a smart thing to do. It was not one of our volunteers.
According to California State election code, forging signatures is a misdemeanor.
Without the warrant being unsealed or criminal charges actually being filed, there is no way to know if or how many signatures were fraudulently collected.
The petitioners, thinking they had enough signatures to recall Peotter, submitted the petitions for review, where over 2,300 were deemed invalid, putting them 106 signatures below the 8,445 required for a successful recall. If the signatures are invalid and there are more than 106 of them, it would seem that the paid petitioners have opened themselves up to a lawsuit by the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, because they submitted the total signatures including the potentially bogus signatures believing that they had the number required to recall Councilman Peotter, costing the city $42,000 in fees from the OC Registrar’s office to verify the signatures, and costing the recall committee around $90,000 in private funds for something they believed was completed– but wasn’t.
It would seem that this is a battle which may be just beginning.