Candidate Signature Forgery Hearing Could Have Statewide Implications

Jun 26, 2014

A court fight between two legislative candidates over forged signatures could have statewide implications. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

State Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer

Last week, a trial judge ruled that several signatures on petitions circulated by Toby Farmer in his bid to run for state Senate had been forged. But, the judge said there was no proof that Farmer, who signed an affidavit saying he witnessed all the signatures, actually knew they were fake. Attorney Tim La Sota, representing incumbent state Sen. Don Shooter, conceded he cannot prove that. But La Sota wants the Arizona Supreme Court to rule that there is enough circumstantial evidence to show that there is no plausible explanation other than Farmer must have known.

“In order to believe that he not only witnessed the signatures but knew nothing about it, you have to believe that multiple people decided — five we showed at trial — decided they were going to come up and sign and forge this petition sheet,” he said.

And, La Sota said the names were on the petition in alphabetical order, by street address, something that is unlikely to have actually occurred in a normal signature-gathering process. La Sota warned the justices there are implications in allowing the lower court ruling to stand. He said it would mean no candidate could be knocked off the ballot for misconduct, even with forged signatures, absent video tape, witnesses or an actual confession.