Amid the hubbub of a perp walk and press conference for former illegitimate—and current potentially prosecutable—U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth today, it's easy to forget that Republicans' fourth-favorite candidate in Tuesday's five-way race isn't the only one-time Senate hopeful facing charges.
But Clayton Walker might just run into Bosworth in Hughes County Circuit Court as he faces his own dozen charges (6 of Filing a False Document, 6 of Perjury, each a Class 6 felony) in relation to his invalidated petition to run as an Independent in November's general election.
A look at the investigator's affidavit and the criminal complaint against Walker shows that South Dakota's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) put in some legitimate pavement-pounding in search of addresses and individuals listed on Walker's petitions. In many cases, they found that those addresses and/or individuals simply didn't exist.
My favorite such discovery didn't actually require any pavement pounding at all. It just required Special Agent Dave Stephan to know the Sioux Falls location of his investigative colleagues working for the U.S. Government:
In an attempt to verify several of the addresses and names listed Petition “A”, he [SA Dave Stephan] found the following:
Line 2-the name and signature of Annette Shell lists an address of 311 1st-no such address exists. The actual Federal Building is on this whole west side of the 300 block of 1st Avenue.
Line 3-the name and signature of Marge Lot-lists an address of 313 1 Avenue-no such address exists. The actual Federal Building is on this whole west side of the 300 block of 1st Avenue
Line 7-the name and signature of Sara Braxden-lists an address of 341 1st Avenue-no such address exists. The actual Federal Building is on this whole west side of the 300 block of 1st Avenue. [Affidavit of Pat West, 2014.06.02, pp. 6-7]
Note to any future petition signature forgers: try to choose fake addresses that aren't likely to be familiar to the investigative community in your chosen jurisdiction.
At least one of Walker's supposed signers hasn't been able to sign anything in the last decade:
5. On 5-9-14, SA Steve Ardis attempted to verify addresses and signatures found on the nomination petitions signed in Lawrence County dated 4-6-14. He did the following:
- He traveled to 627 E. Colorado and found that it was vacant. He identified that Mary Herrboldt previously lived at the address. He made contact with Herrboldt and she stated that the signature of the form listed as “Mary Hawks” is the name of her dead aunt, who passed away 10 years ago. [Affidavit of Pat West, 2014.06.02, p. 4]
While Walker doesn't seem ready to follow Bosworth's lead in turning herself in, he does provide a certain Bosworth-ian admittance that he might not have been present for every collected signature:
I [Supervisory Special Agent Pat West] then asked him about the 4-6-14 date in which there were signatures from Butte, Lawrence, Pennington and Minnehaha counties that were collected on the same day and signed by him (Clayton Walker) as the “Signature of Circulator”. Walker stated, “I had some employees and other people that I had hired. Must have got out and got those signatures." I Specifically asked Walker about those dates in question and whether he signed the nomination form as the “Signature of Circulator”. Walker would not answer the question. He then requested that I fax him the forms so that he could look at them. I told him that I was just down the street and would be glad to come right over and show them to him. He stated, “I don't have time right now.” Walke[r] advised that he did not want to talk with me anymore and asked to speak with an attorney. He then continued to rant stating that I was picking on him and not investigating anyone else. Walker then hung up on me. [Affidavit of Pat West, 2014.06.02, p. 3]
Setting aside the fact that he wasn't alone in being investigated (West's boss, DCI Director Bryan Gortmaker was completing his own investigation of Bosworth), Walker could reasonably be expected to be a little out of sorts when SSA West came a-calling. After all, this DCI investigation was over and above the successful challenge from Brookings resident Mary Perpich that provided election officials enough information to invalidate 1,613 of Walker's signatures and render his petition short of the required 3,171 signatures to gain a spot on November's ballot.
But it seems now that Walker would indeed do well to spend some time with that attorney of his. Invalid signatures are one thing, but—as Secretary of State Jason Gant and Attorney General Marty Jackley have said all along—criminal prosecution is something different entirely.