Signature Fraud Scandal Deepens While Jon Keyser Hides

We’re awaiting the video from Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger’s latest gobsmacking story on alleged petition fraud committed by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser’s campaign, but the 6PM teaser we just watched is just the preview for tonight’s main event at 10PM.

So as not to bury the lede, we’ll get right to the point: the petition gatherer at the center of Jon Keyser’s forgery crisis was convicted of attempted forgery in New York State.

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Keyser petition gatherer “Maureen” also has a significant record of other criminal convictions on her record that Zelinger briefly described in tonight’s teaser segment. Needless to say, this clearly indicates that no meaningful background check of any kind was conducted on Keyser’s petition gatherers before they were sent into the neighborhoods of Colorado to knock on unsuspecting Republican doors. Or in Maureen’s case, not.

Unless, of course, forgery skills were considered a job skill.

In other news from Denver7, Zelinger’s crew has set up a searchable index of not just Keyser’s petition signers, but those of all four Republican U.S. Senate candidates who petitioned on to the ballot:

If you find your name on a petition and you did not sign that petition, please contact Denver7 at politics@thedenverchannel.com and let us know.

Keyser’s campaign as of this writing continues to hide from reporters, which is increasingly becoming a self-contained public relations disaster:

Prior to Zelinger’s report yesterday, Keyser had been scheduled to attend two primary-race events tomorrow. As of now his appearance is a big question mark–but either way, no-show or not, will be a story all its own now.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports on various possibilities for legal action being contemplated by liberal group ProgressNow Colorado:

Keyser, a Republican, cleared the threshold by just 20 signatures in Congressional District 1 — where the 10 signatures in question were found — and the liberal group ProgressNow Colorado wants the authorities to take a closer look.

“The extent of the petition fraud uncovered in Jon Keyser’s campaign is shocking and exceeds our worst fears,” said Alan Franklin, the group’s political director.

One obstacle for ProgressNow, however, is finding a legal pathway to file a complaint against the Keyser campaign. Because ProgressNow can’t easily claim to be a victim in a Republican primary, it likely needs a proxy, such as another GOP candidate, a registered Republican or one of the 10 voters whose signatures were used.

Look, the technicals of who might have standing are worth noting, but the point here is that Jon Keyser is very likely qualified for the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate primary ballot as the direct result of fraudulent forged signatures. Full stop. No “buts.”

And that can’t be allowed to stand. Right? It’s just not an acceptable situation in, you know, America. Right? We do not live in a Banana Republic, and that means we are obliged to find a means within the law to rectify election fraud when it occurs.

Zelinger reports that almost 500 validated signatures were turned in by “Maureen,” with a large number but as-yet unknown number of those in CD1 where the margin was only 20 signatures to begin with. Based on the number of fraudulent signatures uncovered so far, it is almost certain that there are enough left to find to bring Keyser under sufficiency–Zelinger said he stopped at 10 only because he had to get the story to air. If that’s not enough, it’s possible that all of “Maureen’s” hundreds of validated signatures could be thrown out because they were attested to fraudulently.

We recognize that sometimes shocking events in politics can cause radical whiplashy changes. It can be very hard to accept that a favored candidate is in the race one day and completely destroyed the next. But that’s where Keyser is today as this petition fraud scandal escalates, pending a hard collective realization by everyone who was banking their hope on him for a win against Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Keyser’s campaign is more than over, it’s a cautionary tale now.

But that’s going to take some time to sink in.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Jorgensen says:

    Give us the inside investigative scoop, Marshall! Meanwhile, please note what he didn't tell you. The infamous petition carrier should have been checked by Keyser's campaign staff – the buck stops there regardless of the contractor. The woman in question reportedly gave a false address in registering to vote and on the petition — and hate to tell you, but her Faceboook is like a tribute to Bernie Sanders. She has now disappeared… and I can guess she won't be found easily by anyone. She got her $1 per signature and didn't care how – even if it meant forging names and signatures. My guess is she got the names off of Republican precinct walk sheets – how else would she know who is a Republican voter to forge on the petitions? Yes, the SoS needs to investigate this fraud to the limit of the law – not erase her from the voter rolls.That in itself looks like a coverup. – See more at: http://coloradopols.com/diary/83478/jon-keysers-u-s-senate-campaign-is-basically-finished#comment-606765

    • ohwilleke says:

      Campaign staff generally doesn't do a background check on every independent contract's employee.  Sorry.  Not the way it works. Resources are spread thin and you have to trust that everybody else will do their jobs.

      Sounds to me like Keyser is the victim in this situation of a rogue individual, not a perpetrator. 

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        Oh yeah totally, cry me a river. Which lawyer social club do you and Keyser hang out at again, O'Willeke?

        • ohwilleke says:

          You don't have to use sleazy tactics to try to win partisan fights.  

          Being fair and decent and taking the high road pays off in the end.  I've never met Keyser in my life, but I've worked on plenty of campaigns and have a certain amount of sense about what is and is not fair.  There is no Democratic or Republican way to hire petition gatherers to collect signatures.  It is pretty much the same job and has nothing to do with the agenda a candidate is pushing.

          There is plenty of morally blameworthy conduct to confront. But, you lose all credibility if you cry wolf.

          • bullshit!bullshit! says:

            Yeah that's why Keyser won't return the reporter's phone calls.

            Sorry, I've seen you low-budget political lawyers mysteriously go to bat for each other too many times not to recognize the bullshit. Keyser is responsible for his campaign, you buck-passing stooge. Period.

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        Agree Keyser likely a victim unless evidence surfaces to indicate collusion. But, if he is short a significant # of signatures his candidacy should be disallowed

    • Jorgensen says:

      Clarification, she was on the voter rolls but her address turned out to be a lie.

       

  2. ohwilleke says:

    Sorry.  

    I have a great deal of difficulty getting excited about the fact that somebody hired a petition gathering firm (as just about everybody does), that happened to be sloppy about background checks (which would have been the firm's responsibility not the campaign's), and hired a dishonest employee who acted improperly through no fault of the candidate's own.

    He may as well have been hit by lightening, or showed up late to a meeting because he failed to predict a late April snow storm.  This isn't something that you want to have happen, but trying to smear the candidate in a situation where he did nothing personally blameworthy lacks class and is little more than rabid bullying.  Disagree with the man's politics all you want.  But, don't play the guilt by association game.  I'm quite certain that Keyser was as stunned as anyone to learn that a subordinate employee he'd probably never met, of an independent contractor who was no doubt hired on the recommendation of someone he trusted, had an attempted forgery conviction.  

    Maybe it means that his Petition doesn't pass muster mostly because from his perspective he didn't have enough collected to have the necessary cushion to be safe (although AFAIK only ten forged signatures have been identified at this point out of more than tens thousand).  But, none of that makes him a bad or dishonest guy.

    Ultimately politics should be about trying to treat people with civility if at all possible when it is possible, and I'm certainly not impressed by this little tempest in a teapot.

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      Elliot, is that you? Fucking lawyers.

    • Jorgensen says:

      Nobody has challenged Mr. Keyser's political ideology. Secondly, from your comments it appears that you have very, very limited or no knowledge of campaigns particularly when a candidate chooses to petition onto the ballot. I really can imagine how upset Mr. Keyser is – but just as the buck stops at the top, the bottom line shows his mistake in hiring campaign staff and the petition signature contractor. Both of which he had total control and decision making power. 

      • ohwilleke says:

        I have petitioned people onto the ballot, done far more than my fair share of campaign finance reports, and handled pretty much every other aspect of a campaign over the years.

        Keyser will rise or fall based upon whether enough signatures are collected. But the notion that a candidate has any meaningful ability to prevent a rogue employee from being hired is fantasy.  He has some very limited ability to influence how he handles it once he learns of the problem and its largely too late to do anything about it.  But, that's it.  And, it is pretty common knowledge that some sort of criminal record or another is very common in petition gathering which, when you get down to it, is probably not the worst possible thing for someone with a criminal record to being doing out of all possible jobs.  Attempted forgery may be particularly concerning. But, shit happens and who survives the shit and who doesn't has a hell of a lot more to do with luck than skill.

        But, the hysterical hype over something that does nothing to reflect on the candidates and the attempt to try to make it look like it is blameworthy conduct on his part is full of shit.

        • Jorgensen says:

          You have collected signatures, but you have not worked on the inside of a US Senate campaign that petitioned onto the ballot. Those candidates who made it on the ballot had their staff verify everything regardless of what contractor was hired to run the petition drive. First – no contractor employee even circulates a petition without bringing or sending verification of their voter registration to the campaign, which double checks both. Second, the petitions come in and the campaign staff double checks every signature, address and voter registration – yeah! all 1,500 from each Congressional district.Last, the notary signs and uses their seal to validate every petition before they are sent to the Secretary of State's Office. OK. And why do you think they run these checks and balances? Because the candidate hired them (a good campaign staff) and they want to ensure the candidate makes the ballot and is not hurt, sued or embarrassed by some idiot petitioner who forges signatures or isn't even registered to vote. This is "INSIDE" politics. Keyser made mistakes in hiring his campaign staff, his petition contractors and not keeping tabs on either. 

        • Jorgensen says:

          Ohwilleke, let me also clarify that the US Senate campaign staffers checked not just 1,500 signatures on petitions per CD, it was a minimum of 3,000 signatures and addresses and voter registrations. You strive for double the number you need per district knowing some will not be valid. That's why you take all these precautions which Mr. Keyser's campaign did not. All of the petitions carried by Maureen for Mr. Keyser should be dumped – eliminated – because of her fraudulent voter registration address, not just the forgeries but those too.

    • cpolind says:

      How about accusations of illegally campaigning in uniform? What about Veterans of the military claiming he's embellishing his service record for political gain? What about his two ballot two step from 3 years ago? He claimed the system failed and he shredded the evidence. http://coloradopols.com/diary/50919/jon-keysers-failed-system-so-much-for-that

       

      He's the candidate. He's shown no leadership. These sorts of problems are not something that just popped up with candidate Keyser, as you can see. You know what rolls down hill, right?

      The question, as raised in another topic, is what is the SoS going to do about this ridiculous situation? As that poster pointed out, the SoS is in charge of making sure elections are on the up and up.

  3. Jorgensen says:

    Maureen is now 45 years old and still forging… really? She was 28 years old and plead guilty of forgery in NY to get probation – so apparently Maureen wasn't rehabilitated. How many other states have records on her fraudulent activities? Perhaps we need criminal background checks for petition carriers… why not, you want a job or apartment or loan, you are subject to a criminal background check and in most cases will be forced to pay the vendor for it.

    • ohwilleke says:

      Not a bad idea.  White collar crime registries are percolating up the criminal justice policy agenda and better to blacklist someone who is a potential threat of future harm to others than to have them wasting away in prison at state expense.  More bang for the buck with the Scarlet Letter.

       

      • Jorgensen says:

        Lol! Just making a point about our society's penchant for background credit and criminal checks

        • ohwilleke says:

          I'm not a fan of ban the box.

          It is an empirical fact that background credit and criminal record checks generally have a measurable positive benefit for black and Hispanic (and tattooed and trans and otherwise not out of central casting) apartment applicants, job applicants, etc.

          Why?  Because, in the absence of that kind of verification, decision makers make gut decisions based upon stereotypes rather than decisions based upon accurate factual information.  Employers don't want to be victimized the way that Keyser's campaign was victimized in this case, and if they can't get accurate factual information, they resort to second best solutions and play probabilities and a lot of the time that boils down to conscious or subconscious racial profiling.

        • exlurker19 says:

          I am a small business owner and I have to do background checks on all of my employees.  I also have to verify that contractors I hire to do stuff are insured, bonded and carry workman's comp.  I'm not running for dog catcher. 

          What exempts Keyser  from all the stuff I have to do?  Besides IOKIYAR and the rules don't apply to them?

          • What's to insure? The campaign won't be up on charges unless it can be proven that they cleared each signature gatherer above and beyond what the contractor might have done. All of the liability already falls directly to the contractor or the petition gatherer under the law.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      What?!?  As long as she's still eligible to purchase an entire assault armory, Dudley's happy; everything else is just fluff . . . don't be getting all crazy!

  4. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    It seems clear keyser is more stumblebum than crook.  Still not a great campaign slogan.

     

  5. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    It's sad for Keyser, but the buck does stop with him. It's also sad for him that he put his faith and his money in a petition-gathering firm that doesn't do due diligence on its employees (or contractors).  ohwilleke's right, though, expecting a campaign to check out the petitioners is not S.O. P. But these are not new tactics. About 15 years ago, there was another, very well-known, company that got a very bad reputation for its validity rate. If I were Keyser, though, I would not go silently into that good night. I would be shouting the firm's name from the rooftops- if only to save my party brethren from making my mistake and hiring that lax (or crooked) company.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      cook, you're right that Keyser should blame the petition-gathering firm. Often, the fact that these canvassing firms are crooked is a feature, not a bug, for Republican candidates. Remember in 2012 when voter registration people in Pueblo and the Springs would only register Republicans?

      However, Keyser has a pattern of lying or fudging the truth – his supposed "two ballots" scandal, political advertising in uniform, campaign finance loans from himself, etc. It does not show anyone who can be trusted to represent our district in Washington.

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