Who stole your congressional seat? (Part I): Smokescreen gets in your eyes

David Ottenwess Adviser to Thaddeus McCotter
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You’ve been the victim of unprecedented public corruption: Former U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter’s 2012 nominating petitions were sabotaged to knock him off the ballot and steal a congressional seat from you, the American people.

In order to get on a congressional primary ballot in Michigan, a candidate needs to submit at least 1,000 valid petition signatures. Last spring, Michigan’s secretary of state discovered that more than 85% of the McCotter campaign’s 2,000 signatures were fraudulent and/or invalid. The scandal kept McCotter off his district’s GOP primary ballot; he resigned from Congress a few months later.

Yet, after a Michigan attorney general’s investigation that didn’t produce a motive, a credible timeline, or blame (let alone charges) for nearly two-thirds of the fraudulent signatures, the saboteurs who “cut and pasted,” duplicated, and forged these easily obtained petitions still have not been brought to justice for their public corruption. Why?

To mask their 2012 sabotage, the criminals also forged and planted past “petitions” to throw investigators off their tracks and conceal their real motive.

On June 29, 2012 — a month into the investigation — the AG asked the chief saboteur if he took a bribe to sabotage McCotter. The chief saboteur changed the subject by casually claiming he and another staffer (who vehemently denies it) had “done this before” in 2008.

Then, on July 25, 2012 — almost two months into the investigation — acting on an “anonymous tip,” the AG went to a vacant 2010 campaign headquarters McCotter shared with the Michigan Republican Party and “seized” alleged copies of McCotter campaign petitions from 2002 through 2008.

Finally, on August 13, 2012 — after two-and-one-half months of intense media attention and four days after the AG issued his report — Democratic political consultant Mark Grebner claimed to have the only “images” of all petitions “filed” by McCotter’s 2002-2012 campaigns.

Let’s sift through this smokescreen.

First: Not one of the allegedly fraudulent past petitions bears the Michigan secretary of state’s official number stamp. These number stamps are placed on filed and publicly distributed petitions precisely to prevent false accusations of petition fraud by political opponents — or worse. Consequently, in law and in fact, McCotter’s 2002-2010 congressional petitions are certified as valid.

Second: Because the statute of limitations had run out on any 2008 petition-tampering, the chief saboteur lied about a pattern of past petition fraud for which he couldn’t be punished to hide his real motive and present, larger crimes for which he could be punished. He falsely accused the other staffer of past fraud to shroud the identity of his as-yet-uncharged actual accomplice in the 2012 sabotage. And he lied to provide credence to the ensuing steps in the smokescreen: manufactured and planted “petition” copies and “images.”

Third: Not one of the “petition” copies or cut-and-paste “dry runs” the AG “seized” at the vacant 2010 headquarters bears the secretary of state’s official number stamp. It’s exceedingly unlikely that these “petitions” were the only ones the saboteurs forgot to destroy in trying to conceal their crime. And it is exceedingly unlikely that the saboteurs took these old “petitions” from the vacant headquarters, manufactured the 2012 petitions from them elsewhere, and then thoughtfully returned them to the vacant headquarters and collated them for the AG’s investigative convenience. Finally, other than the landlord, guess who held the only key to this vacant campaign headquarters that lacked a computer, printer, copier, and people: the chief saboteur, who also held and destroyed the real, officially number-stamped past petitions.

Fourth: Reprising Dan Rather’s role in the 2004 forged George Bush National Guard letter, Democratic political consultant Grebner neglected to note that not one of his 2004-2010 “images” bears the secretary of state’s official number stamp. Blinded by partisan zeal (at best), Grebner never considers how, if the secretary of state routinely discarded past petitions, the saboteurs would have had no past petitions to cut and paste into the 2012 set. He never explains why anyone would go to such lengths to manufacture blatantly fraudulent petitions, when it is far easier to get valid signatures. He never performs the elementary analysis that reveals the vast bulk of fake “images,” planted phony copies at the vacant headquarters, and sabotaged 2012 petitions were created at the same time by the saboteurs as they cobbled together frauds out of past unfiled, photocopied petitions. Such willful negligence is why Grebner — though he has a partisan motive for manufacturing and disseminating the false “images” — has continued to accuse McCotter of sabotaging his own 2012 petitions, something McCotter had no motive to do.

Enough. It’s time Grebner came clean and revealed if he was willingly duped; and, if so, from whom and when he got these fake “images.”

Presently, though the alleged “past petitions” have never been and can never be “authenticated” by the secretary of state or the AG, the saboteurs’ smokescreen of self-serving lies under oath, planted phony copies, Grebner’s fake “images” (and the cold-blooded, deceitful set-up of three McCotter staffers as human shields to camouflage the sabotage) has so far succeeded. How?

Because too many powerful people have heedlessly agreed with the AG’s novel legal concept for this case: “Motive is immaterial.”

No. Motive matters. Accordingly, in bringing to justice the criminals who stole your seat from “The People’s House,” next we’ll examine motive and unmask the saboteurs.

David Ottenwess, Esq., is managing partner of the Detroit law firm Ottenwess, Allman & Taweel, PLC. He is a long-time adviser to former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter.