DETROIT (AP) — Four campaign staffers were charged Thursday in an investigation into fake and duplicate signatures on nominating petitions submitted by former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, who ultimately resigned after the scandal kept him off this year's ballot.
No specific, direct evidence points to McCotter's involvement and he isn't charged, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said at a morning news conference. But Schuette said McCotter was "asleep at the switch."
Deputy district director Don Yowchuang, district director Paul Seewald, district representative Mary Melissa Turnbull and staffer Lorianne O'Brady face charges ranging from forgery and conspiracy to falsely signing election documents. The four are expected to be arraigned this week, attorney general's spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.
Schuette wouldn't rule out more charges if additional evidence is found.
"The McCotter crew acted as if they were above the law. ... They were sadly mistaken," Schuette said.
The Associated Press left phone messages Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment from McCotter, who has said he would cooperate with the attorney general's probe.
McCotter's resignation last month capped a bizarre political downfall for the guitar-slinging Republican who ran a little-noticed campaign for president in 2011.
The 46-year-old McCotter's failure to submit the needed signatures paved the way for tea party-backed Kerry Bentivolio to win the GOP nomination in Tuesday's primary. Bentivolio faces Democratic Dr. Syed Taj in the Nov. 6 election.
McCotter's staff turned in 2,000 signatures supporting his candidacy, twice as many as needed to be eligible for the Aug. 7 primary ballot. But 80 percent were found to be fake or duplicated. McCotter initially said he would conduct a write-in campaign but eventually dropped the effort.
The attorney was first elected to the House in 2003 after serving as a state senator and county commissioner. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, McCotter also was a loud critic of big government.
He was known among his colleagues and constituents for his flowery rhetoric and humor, and took pride in his talents as a guitarist. He played with a congressional rock band called "The Second Amendments," and after announcing his long-shot bid for the presidency last year, he jammed to a Chuck Berry tune on a guitar designed to look like an American flag. He finished last in the Iowa straw poll.