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Two Michigan Dems Charged For Alleged Fake Tea Party Scheme

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Newscom / Jim West

Former Democratic Party Chairman Michael McGuinness and ex-operations director Jason Bauer were indicted Wednesday on forgery and perjury charges. Bauer also faces three counts of notary fraud.

John Wisely of the Detroit Free-Press reports:

The indictment alleges that the pair attempted to place two county commission candidates, Aaron W. Tyler and Ruth Ann Spearman, and a state senate candidate, Johnathan M. Young, on the ballot without the candidates' knowledge. The two men forged the signatures on the affidavit of identity and falsely swore under oath to qualify them to run, the indictment says.

"A scheme was devised by a party leader in Lansing to put people on the ballot on the Tea Party ticket," Oakland Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. "It may not be ethical, but it's not illegal. But some folks were placed on the ballot without their knowledge and that's the criminal side."

As TPM has reported, Tea Partiers and Republicans in the state were suspicious that Michigan Tea Party was part of a scheme by Democrats to split the Republican vote, in the lead-up to the midterm elections. Bauer stepped down from his position following allegations that he notarized and filed papers for 13 sham candidates from the Michigan Tea Party.

In September, Michigan Circuit Court judges authorized a one-man grand jury to investigate the allegations. The Michigan Supreme Court also blocked the fake candidates from appearing on the ballot.

The two face up to 14 years in prison, if convicted. They were each released on a $25,000 personal bond, The Detroit News reports.