Initiated Measures For Conservation Fund And Medicinal Marijuana Dismissed Over Alleged Petition Fraud UPDATE: NDSU Football Players Charged
Big news coming out of the Secretary of State’s office today:
Al Jaeger said Tuesday said he’s disqualifying a proposal for a state conservation fund, and a measure to make marijuana use legal for medical treatment.
Both campaigns relied on paid petition circulators. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says 11 of them are being prosecuted for fraud.
Jaeger says thousands of names were disqualified, and the two petitions no longer meet the minimum number of names needed to get on the ballot.
Both of the committees backing these measures spent big money to gather signatures. The conservation measure folks spent $145,000 and the medicinal marijuana folks spent $45,000.
Now people are apparently facing criminal charges. That’s a lot of money spent to not only not have your issue on the ballot, but to have it associated with allegedly criminal activity.
I’ll be honest, though. It doesn’t break my heart that the conservation measure won’t be on the ballot. Enshrining environmental activism in the state government with a huge slush fund of oil tax revenues to spend is a bad, bad idea.
Update: Apparently some of the fraudulent signatures were past and current NDSU football players.
Update: Eight members of the NDSU football team, and one former member, are being charged with petition fraud.
Update: More from Valley News Live:
Of the 37,785 signatures submitted, more than 17,034 were deemed invalid, leaving the measure 7,938 signatures short. For the statutory medical marijuana measure, 13,452 signatures are necessary. Of the 20,092 signatures submitted, only 12,533 were determined to be valid, leaving the committee more than 900 signatures short.
Also, the names of those being charged:
Charges have been filed against Aireal Boyd, Josh Colville, Josh Gatlin, Demetrius Grey, Jennifer Krahn, Lane O’Brien, Samuel Ojuri, Brendin Pierre, Antonio Rodgers, Bryan Shepherd and Marcus Williams, for facilitation of voter fraud or filing a false statement. The charges are Class A Misdemeanors.
Update: Press release from the AG’s office below. Also, word from NDSU is that the students were being paid by a company that was tasked with collecting the signature. According to someone who spoke with Gene Taylor, the word from NDSU is that this isn’t a big deal (that is how my source characterized it). Except that lying on a statement like this is sort of a big deal.