Energy initiative campaign manager admits submitting invalid signatures

A new court filing in the case against the Proposition 127 ballot initiative led by California billionaire Tom Steyer reveals the former campaign manager and current senior adviser to the campaign admitted under oath that the proponents’ committee lacked enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The filing included a copy of the committee’s internal daily tracking report of signatures gathered. The committee was checking the validity of signatures and petitions throughout the collection process during the months leading up to the July 5 deadline. The daily report tracked the region of the state, shifts, number of paid hours, number of signatures collected, number of signatures checked and the validity rate of those signatures.

The final numbers on the report dated July 3, two days before the signature filing deadline, showed that the committee collected 480,401 signatures, of which they deemed 220,181 “valid.” That’s a 47 percent validity rate.

The minimum number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot for a constitutional amendment is 225,963.

“This is a smoking gun. Based on the initiative committee’s own internal documents and the sworn statements of its campaign manager, it’s clear they lack sufficient valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot,” said Matthew Benson, spokesman for a group opposing Proposition 127 – Arizonans for Affordable Electricity. “When the trial begins Monday, we’re confident the court will take these revelations into account along with the mountain of other evidence we’ve collected.”

This new development was confirmed under oath during a deposition of Jessica Grennan, the former campaign manager for Clean Energy for the Healthy Arizona who now serves as a senior adviser for the campaign. Grennan admitted during the August 14 deposition that the committee had checked 465,712 signatures and on July 3 only 220,181 signatures were deemed valid.

Regardless of the internal tracking, the campaign decided to submit all 480,401 signatures even though it believed only approximately 220,000 were valid.

“The initiative campaign made a calculated decision to submit to the State of Arizona more than a quarter-million signatures it believed to be invalid,” Benson said. “The reason seems clear – campaign officials wanted to flood the system with phony signatures and overwhelm state and county elections employees charged with validating the petitions. A campaign that has engaged in this kind of coordinated fraud and deception against Arizona voters must not be rewarded with placement on the November ballot.”

Arizonans for Affordable Electricity last month filed the initial lawsuit in Arizona Superior Court challenging the validity of more than 300,000 “clean energy” signatures.

The committee’s findings include:

  • 195,339 of signatures were from individuals not registered to vote in Arizona;
  • 74,227 signatures were included on improperly or non-notarized petitions;
  • 20,092 signers did not provide a first and last name or failed to sign their full name, as required by law;
  • 12,591 individuals signed the petition more than once;
  • 20,021 signatures were collected by petition circulators with felony criminal records.

Both sides will be in court Monday to argue the merits of the lawsuit.

Lorna Romero

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