Well, a fraud riddled petition drive has so far proven to be a worse debacle than even we envisioned. On Sept. 3 The Vote No On Issue One Committee (the Committee, formerly the Citizens For Community Standards or CCS) submitted to the Secretary of State’s office 382,508 signatures on petitions to bring the Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for an up or down vote this fall. The Committee needed 241,366 valid signatures.
We predicted in the earlier article that at least 400,000 signatures would be required for the Coalition to achieve their goal, even with the blatantly fraudulent pitch being used (“would you like to sign a petition to regulate strip clubs?”). In reality we were off by a factor of about 2. Since the political public relations and marketing firm hired by the Committee, the Craig Group was only able to achieve a 31% valid signature rate (a dismal rate by any standard and a complete embarassment to the Craig Group) the actual number of signatures needed to get the minimum number of valid signatures climbs to about 780,000 (an additional 400,000), a virtually insurmountable number.
Starting Tuesday Sept. 25 the Committee has 10 business days to get these additional 400,000 signatures. Of course they will give it their best effort but the chances of collecting enough valid signatures is slim. The committee, which is in reality a coalition of strip club owners and California pornography producers, have another tactic at their disposal. When the petition drive fails they can also file suit in court to force validation of bad signatures. Guess which tactic the Committee is most probably going to end up employing? That’s right. The lawsuit.
The Committee intends to sue the boards of election of Franklin, Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties because these are the counties with the largest number of signatures and are among the lowest in valid signatures (Franklin- 26% valid, Hamilton- 29%, Cuyahoga- 33%). The grounds? That voters in these counties were disenfranchised because the addresses they gave were invalid. Huh!?
No mention, naturally, of the mass fraud the paid signature collectors employed in duping people into signing a petition to “regulate strip clubs.” Fraud so blatant that the Lucas County prosecutor was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch as saying “In 10 years on the job…[i]t’s probably the worst I’ve seen.” It should come as no shock to anyone that a group of strip club owners funded by pornography producers thinks that signatures collected by any and all means, even fraud, should be acceptable. To people who make their profit by exploiting womens’ bodies and mens’ innate sexual desires, and do nothing while a number of the members of their organization either look aside or actively engage in drug dealing, gun running, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, etc., petition fraud is really “no big deal.”
Interestingly, assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Borell, isn’t interested in prosecuting the worst petition fraud he’s ever seen. According to the Toledo Blade,
Mr. Borell said it is unlikely the county would bring fraud action against the petition circulators. It is more likely that supporters of the now-shelved law would make alleged fraud an issue in court should the strip clubs and their dancers succeed in filling the signature gap over the next 10 business days and win ballot certification.
This should raise a number of questions (any journalists out there paying attention?), primary among them why a county prosecutor refuses to do his job, citing fanciful possibilities of private lawsuits to bring criminals to justice. Especially in Lucas County where an extremely intricate high stakes chess match was played out this summer over the control of the Lucas County Democratic Party. The players included State Senator for Lucas County Teresa Fedor and State Rep. Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman. The ostensible reason for the internecine fight for control was a golf outing which featured strippers as drink cart attendants (dutifully supplied by strip club owning Democratic Party donors) who apparently plied their trade.
Senator Fedor feigned shock and outrage at hearing of this and called in Rep. Redfern to issue party discipline. Both Redfern and Fedor had voted against CDA in the Ohio legislature, Fedor going so far as to appear at a press conference in support of a group of strippers calling themselves the “Dancers For Democracy” who were a front for the Committee in launching the campaign against the CDA, proving that their shock and outrage was a not particularly well-designed ruse. This left Fedor in de facto control of the party. Does this fact have anything to do with the Democratically-controlled prosecutor’s office reluctance to bring fraudsters to justice? We know that the Lucas County Democratic Party has received money from strip club owners but does prosecutor Julia Bates have strip clubs or their owners in her campaign donor lists? What about Fedor? Other counties (Ashland, Hamilton, etc.) didn’t hesitate to begin prosecutorial procedures against petitioners who committed open and blatant fraud. Why not Lucas?
Other questions; Why did Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wait an extra day before issuing the letter to the Committee giving them 10 business days to gather the necessary signatures? She knew by the weekend that the initial petition drive was a failure, yet Monday apparently wasn’t good enough to issue the letter to the Committee. Could it be that she wanted to provide an extra weekend for the Committee to gather signatures? And why is she so friendly to the strip club-pornographer coalition? Could it be that her husband, Rick Brunner, does legal work for strip clubs? Rick Brunner is also a registered lobbyist. Is he doing any lobbying work for his strip club clients? Are there strip club or owner contributions in her donor list?
Don’t hold your breath waiting for news media outlets (especially in Columbus and Cleveland) to ask these pivotal questions, but ask them to do it anyway.