On Wednesday, I challenged Lisa Furlong’s (or should we just call it Rod Aycox’s now, since his Georgia-based company provided all of the $1.7 million necessary to muscle this trick onto the ballot?) fake 18% rate cap petition. On Friday, KELO-TV tried to explain what that challenge was about to its audience. KELO-TV did… o.k.
“Oaths matter. Petitions matter. The integrity of elections matter. We want to make sure when we put things on the ballot, they get there legally, following the rules,” [Cory Allen] Heidelberger said.
He argues that didn’t happen with Amendment U. In an affidavit submitted to the Secretary of State this week, Heidelberger outlined issues he says make signatures invalid [Erich Schaffhauser, “Secretary of State Reviewing Challenged Petitions,” KELO-TV, 2016.02.05].
Schaffhauser didn’t go into detail on those issues; instead, he lumped them in with the issues raised on the laughably weak challenge brought by payday-lender dupes against the real 36% rate cap petition. I ought to take umbrage, but I’m content that Schaffhauser gave the issue the attention he did.
Angela Kennecke didn’t come to my house, but she picked up the story and started connecting dots. KELO and other media documented the mafia-like intimidation tactics used by the payday lenders last summer against petition sponsor Steve Hildebrand and his café customers. Kennecke caught out-of-staters breaking the law and circulating fake 18% petitions back in September; my readers and I found suspicious and deceitful petition circulators in Brookings, Rapid City, Vermillion, and Aberdeen. Kennecke recognizes that my challenge contends the pattern of dirty tricks flows right into the petition itself:
These are all reasons why Political Blogger Corey Heidelberger has filed an affidavit with the Secretary of State’s office challenging the petitions used to get the Constitutional Amendment U on the ballot.
“Are any of the dirty tricks visible on the petition itself? And low and behold, it looks like it. And I’m not going to stand by and have rich corporations from out of state use dirty tricks to get on our ballot and abuse the constitution or the people of South Dakota,” Heidelberger said.
After reviewing nearly 5,000 pages of the petition, Heidelberger says he found pages and pages of violations that render signatures invalid. Notaries used North American Title Loan as their permanent address. Heidelberger also alleges that some signatures were forged, several petitions were certified before they were circulated and names of petition circulators don’t match [Angela Kennecke, “Petition Challenge to Stop Payday Lender-Backed Amendment,” KELO-TV, 2016.02.05].
Kennecke still can’t spell my name. I’ll survive.
Kennecke includes that link to my petition challenge in her original story. KELO-TV doesn’t use links very much, and almost never to other South Dakota media. I appreciate that nod toward the blog ethos of linking so readers can see for themselves. Links make news stories better.
Kennecke doesn’t quite get the evidence from my challenge right. Let’s be clear:
- My affidavit points out that the addresses associated with frequent petition notaries Antonio J. Puga III and Erin Ageton in the Secretary of State’s notary database are North American Title Loan storefronts (see paragraphs 6 and 15). My affidavit does not claim that those facts render any signatures invalid. My affidavit includes those facts to help the Secretary and law enforcement find those notaries to ask questions, as well as to point out the connection between notaries who violated the rules and the corporation that paid for this petition drive.
- My affidavit does not allege forgery of signatures. The word forgery does not appear in my affidavit. My affidavit contends that the penmanship of certain information on several lines of the petition does not match the penmanship of the signers or the sworn circulator, the only people authorized to write such information on the petition.
But I get it: such details of petition rules are hard to explain in two minutes of television. I’ll survive that, too, because really, I only need two people in South Dakota right now to understand the arguments my affidavit makes: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Attorney General Marty Jackley.
Kennecke focuses on what matters for the general public:
“We want to make sure when South Dakotans get a chance to vote on things, they’re voting on legitimate measure. They aren’t being tricked. They aren’t being lied to; they aren’t being taken advantage of and someone hasn’t broken the law to get their vote,” Heidelberger said [Kennecke, 2016.02.05].
That’s the real story. The Furlong/Aycox petition exhibits a pattern of deliberate petition fraud far more extensive and systematic than the petition violations that hung Annette Bosworth and Chad Haber. The petition fraud here exceeds that of Clayton Walker’s looniness. The evidence on the Furlong/Aycox petition suggests a willful effort by multiple parties bankrolled by the payday lending industry to scam their way onto the South Dakota ballot.
Lisa Furlong has submitted a petition rife with evidence of criminal activity capping the already documented unseemly behavior of her circulators all around South Dakota. This petition is a fraud, and we must not let fraud onto our ballot.