January 19, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced criminal charges against a mother-son duo from Grosse Point Park for their roles in submitting false elections paperwork in connection with the 2010 Democratic Primary election for Detroit's 2nd State Senate District. The charges come as the result of an Attorney General investigation conducted after receiving a referral from the Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections.
"Nothing is more fundamental to the democratic process than integrity in our elections," said Schuette. "Secretary of State Johnson and I will work diligently to ensure that Michigan election law is followed."
"Anytime there is a calculated, deliberate effort to deceive or manipulate voters there must be consequences," said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who helped expose, while serving as Oakland County Clerk, the effort to put bogus candidates on the 2010 ballot under the banner of a fake tea party. "We can never forget that integrity in our elections is sacred to democracy."
An investigation by Attorney General investigators revealed Forrest Smith, 46, of Grosse Point Park, and his mother, Rita Smith, 66, of Grosse Point Park, allegedly conspired to file a false affidavit with the Wayne County Clerk's Office. Schuette alleges that the intent was to inflate the number of unknown candidates on the ballot in order to benefit Lamar Lemmons, Jr., the candidate for whom Forrest Smith was employed as a campaign treasurer.
Michigan law requires candidates for office to sign documentation attesting to their identity. This affidavit must also be notarized with the candidate present.
It is alleged that in May 2010, Forrest Smith instructed another Lemmons campaign staff member to complete a false affidavit of identity in the name of her husband, without the spouse's consent or knowledge. After the document was completed by the staff member, Forrest Smith allegedly submitted the affidavit to his mother, Rita Smith, a registered notary. It is alleged Rita Smith notarized the document without the alleged candidate's presence, in violation of state law.
Schuette has filed the following charges against the defendants in Detroit's 36th District Court:
Arrangements are being made for the defendants to surrender themselves to authorities, and arraignment on the charges is expected this week.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.