Sec. of State Ruth Johnson announced two proposals to help prevent fraud

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Secretary of State Ruth Johnson -- in the wake of recent felony charges stemming from the fake Tea Party scheme she helped expose in Michigan last year -- has announced two proposals designed to prevent fraud in regard to establishing new political parties.

“Election integrity is sacred  — it is the foundation of democracy,” said Johnson, Michigan's chief elections officer. “We need to make sure the people and political parties we see on the ballot are who they say they are. Efforts to deceive voters rob every legitimate voter and put our liberties and freedoms at risk.”

A group calling themselves The Tea Party sought political party status last year, but it was not affiliated with legitimate Tea Party organizations. The effort was denounced by true Tea Party leaders as an effort to manipulate the election process.

Johnson, then Oakland County Clerk, requested a criminal investigation after her office discovered questionable candidate filings for the so-called Tea Party as well as apparently forged signatures and at least one "candidate" who lived out of state and said he had never filed to run for political office.

A grand jury convened in Oakland County to investigate allegations of election fraud handed down felony charges last week against two former Oakland County Democratic party leaders. The indictment says the men forged candidates' signatures on affidavit of identity forms and falsely swore under oath to qualify them to run.

Johnson is proposing two political party qualification reforms to prevent this type of deception in the future. In her first proposal, she would require disclosure of petition circulation activities as part of the campaign finance process for qualifying a newly-created political party.

“This transparency will allow all Michigan citizens to follow the money and see who is behind a new political party,” Johnson said. Current law only requires fi-

nancial disclosure for election of a candidate, or qualification, passage or defeat of ballot question.

In the second proposal, she would require public notice to be filed prior to the holding of a convention for a minor political party. The states of Washington and Oregon already require notification of a minor party's upcoming political convention in a newspaper at least 10 days prior to that convention. "We do not need to reinvent the wheel to achieve transparency," Johnson said. "We need to institute best practices from across our nation to insure election integrity."

On April 19, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will hold a State of the Secretary of State's Office address in which she will further outline a comprehensive set of major initiatives involving voter integrity, campaign finance and election reform.

For more information about campaign finance regulations and the Secretary of State's Office, visit its website (www.Michigan.gov/sos), and sign up for the official Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/

Michsos) and Facebook updates (www.facebook.com/

Michigansos).

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