Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Diamond Appeals Gingrich Forgery Decision to PA Supreme Court

March 5, 2008

Republican state House candidate Russ Diamond today filed notice of intent to appeal a recent Commonwealth Court decision to allow Mauree Gingrich’s name to appear on the April 22 primary ballot in the 101st legislative district, despite evidence that dozens of signatures on a petition she signed as circulator under oath were forged. The notice was filed in Philadelphia by Diamond’s attorney, Lawrence Otter of Bucks County.

At issue is whether Gingrich intended to deceive the electorate by signing a false circulator’s affidavit and subsequently filing a false candidate’s affidavit in which she swore to “not knowingly violate any election law.” The Commonwealth Court decision was issued by visiting senior Judge Keith Quigley, who ruled that Gingrich’s story about collecting the signatures in question at a “nacho party” at her home was credible.

Quigley seemed to overlook the obvious problem of two groupings of signatures from residents of Oak Street in Palmyra and Shady Lane in North Londonderry Township, which appear in numerical sequence and suggest the use of a street list by the circulator. Gingrich testified that her nacho party invitation went to Republican committee members. The twelve voters identified in the challenge were not committee members. Gingrich could not name the Republican committee members for her hometown of Palmyra.

“A false circulator’s affidavit is inherently deceptive,” said Diamond. “Mrs. Gingrich knew she didn’t collect those 25 signatures legitimately and we believe she knew that some, if not all of them, were outright forgeries. As such, her candidate’s affidavit is also false and her name should not appear on the ballot.”

“Had we been able to present our case, we would have been able to show that the testimony of Gingrich was not credible, but incredible,” added Otter. “We had twelve witnesses in court under subpoena to testify, but the judge only allowed one person other than Gingrich to take the stand. Although that person was alleged to be a close friend of Gingrich’s whose name appears on line 37 of the petition, even she testified she never signed it.”

During the Commonwealth Court hearing, Gingrich’s counsel allowed that the entire petition page 2 signed and sworn by Gingrich could be tossed due to the irregularities.

The case bears a striking resemblance to that of former Democratic state representative Linda Bebko-Jones, who was charged last week by Attorney General Tom Corbett with forgery and conspiracy in connection with her 2006 filing for re-election.

Ironically, both Diamond and Otter were involved in the Bebko-Jones case. Diamond assisted the late Dennis Iaquinta, a PACleanSweep-backed opponent to Bebko-Jones in the 2006 primary, in discovering the alleged forgeries. Otter represented Iaquinta in a subsequent petition challenge. Bebko-Jones withdrew from the race the day before a hearing on the matter was scheduled to be held in Commonwealth Court.

Corbett launched his criminal investigation after receiving a complaint from former state Senator Anthony "Buzz" Andrezeski, whose mother’s name was allegedly forged on Bebko-Jones’ petition. “State legislators are responsible for protecting the public trust and ensuring that they uphold the law and abide by it,” Corbett said in a press release regarding the Bebko-Jones case. “Nobody is above the law in Pennsylvania, and that includes our elected officials.”

The schedule for Diamond’s appeal will be set by the Supreme Court.


For more information: 717.383.3025

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