Two former local Democratic party officials from Michigan face up to 14 years behind bars for allegedly forging paperwork to put fake Tea Party candidates on the November 2010 ballot.
Former Oakland County Democratic Chair Mike McGuinness and former Democratic Operations Director Jason Bauer were indicted on a total of nine felony charges this week, local station WJBK reports.
McGuinness and Bauer allegedly tried to put two county commission candidates and a state senate candidate on the ballot without their knowledge, the Detroit Free Press reported, by forging their signatures and falsely swearing under oath about the candidacies.
A Free Press investigation last summer revealed that Bauer had allegedly notarized petitions for a dozen Tea Party candidates statewide, and the Michigan Supreme Court subsequently upheld a ruling to keep candidates associated with the questionable group "The Tea Party" off the 2010 ballot.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said this week there were 23 statewide races with suspicious Tea Party candidates, and the investigation may go beyond Oakland County, WJBK reported.
"It was learned that a scheme was developed by a party leader in Lansing to place on the ballot people pretending to be Tea Party activists and that this was going to be a statewide effort," Bouchard said.
Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said that the indictment was not about politics.
"We stand together, a Republican sheriff and a Democratic prosecutor, to assure the public that this is not a political investigation or a partisan indictment," Cooper said. "The electoral process is sacred."