LANSING (WWJ/AP) - The State Attorney General is now investigating possible election fraud in the re-election campaign of longtime Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.
WWJ's Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports McCotter's campaign turned in 2,000 petition signatures -- but there was a problem.
"They found a grand total of 244 of those names to be valid. The rest were not," said Skubick.
Skubick said, according to elections director Chris Thomas, that suggests that there may have been some "padding" going on.
"But he cannot rule on whether fraud was involved here which is why the state attorney general's office is getting involved," Skubick said.
The Secretary of State's office said McCotter's campaign may have used signatures gathered in 2010.
The Congressman will now launch a write-in campaign for re-election.
Talking to the Detroit Free Press Tuesday morning, the Livonia Republican said the alleged election fraud is either a case of "someone panicking...or sabotage."
Talking live on WWJ Newsradio 950, McCotter said he welcomes the investigation.
Live Interview: Thad McCotter
"I'm surprised myself. We had always done it. We've always relied on the same volunteer supervision to make sure it's done, the same grassroots. To have this time of outcome, it's (a surprise)," he said.
"It could be somebody trying to intentionally help me, somebody trying to intentionally harm me," said McCotter. "That's for the attorney general and the secretary of state to determine as to who is responsible and who did what."
McCotter, who briefly sought the GOP nomination to run for president last year before dropping out, made the stunning disclosure Friday that the secretary of state's office informed him he was about 1,000 valid signatures short of the threshold needed to get on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. He had promised to announce on Tuesday the findings of an internal review.
He's running for re-election in Michigan's 11th Congressional District, which runs through parts of Oakland and Wayne counties, including the communities of Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Canton Township, Northville, Novi and Wixom, among others.
The other Republican in the race is Kerry Bentivolio, a Vietnam War veteran, teacher and beekeeper from Milford.
The 60-year-old told The Associated Press on Saturday he was "excited about" how McCotter's miscue might help his own campaign.
"It improves the chances for the average guy," Bentivolio said. "Do I feel different? Yeah, a lot more optimistic. I'm getting a lot of free publicity."
McCotter, 46, is a conservative who first was elected to Congress in 2002. He entered the GOP presidential race last July, but dropped out soon thereafter because his campaign had gained little traction.
William Roberts of Redford Township and Dr. Taj Syed of Canton Township are running in the 11th District Democratic primary.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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