Sixth Circuit Judge John L. Brown will arraign Annette Bosworth at the Hughes County Courthouse in Pierre tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. A guilty plea would bring relief to her and her children—the truth will set you free.
Her husband, Chad Haber, and her media and legal advisor, Les Stranahan, probably won't let a guilty plea happen. Haber is off burning up the family savings on a vacation to Alaska while Bosworth's sister begs for donations for Bosworth's legal bills. Stranahan is playing Bosworth's own Tea Party confidence game, exploiting her publicity and other South Dakota residents and new stories to boost his own profile and fundraising. Seeking JusticeForAnnette.com has too much fundraising potential to be short-circuited by an honest guilty plea.
Bosworth faces twelve counts: six felony counts of offering false or forged instrument for filing (SDCL 22-11-28.1) and six felony counts of perjury (SDCL 22-29-1, 22-29-8, and 22-29-10). According to the affidavit of Division of Criminal Investigation agent Bryan Gortmaker, Bosworth filed a nominating petition for her Senate candidacy that included six sheets on which Bosworth swore an oath that she witnessed every signature but which bear voters' signatures that Bosworth did not witness. I list those sheets below, with the sheet numbers I applied while analyzing and challenging the petition this spring:
|signers not witnessed
|dates not witnessed
We know Bosworth did not witness some of those signatures because Bosworth was in the Philippines on the dates that the voters signed in South Dakota. We also know Bosworth did not witness some of those signatures because fifteen petition signers testified to the grand jury on June 17 that Bosworth did not witness their signatures.
The indictment charges Bosworth with false oath and perjury on four of the sheets that my team identified in the April petition challenge based on what we knew about the Philippines trip. But the Gortmaker affidavit and the grand jury indictment go beyond the Philippines. The Philippines trip had Bosworth out of South Dakota from January 5 to January 15. Gortmaker and the indictment point to 83 improperly witnessed signatures, not the "37 signatures" Bosworth has said were in question. 52 of those 83 signatures took place January 2–4, January 16–17, January 28, and February 19–23.
In other words, when Bosworth talks about "37 signatures," she's not even addressing half of the indictment.
Four of the sheets on which the indictment is based came from Hutterite colonies. Agent Gortmaker thought it "unlikely that candidate Bosworth would visit each of these same colonies numerous days in a row to collect these signatures." Interviewing members of the colonies confirmed his suspicions. Consider what witnesses on the Millerdale Colony told Agent Gortmaker about Sheet #24:
This Colony had been contacted by phone by Dr. Bosworth and one (1) nominating petition came to them by mail, asking that the petition be signed and she would take care of the rest. A follow-up call was also received in which Dr. Bosworth was asking about the nominating petition as she needed them back in her office by the end of February. None of the signatories on the nominating petition that I interviewed signed in front of Dr. Bosworth, and one individual signed for several others on the nominating petition before it was mailed back to her [Bryan Gortmaker, Division of Criminal Investigation, affidavit supporting arrest of Annette Bosworth, 2014.06.03]
Sheet #20 includes one completely falsified signature. Agent Gortmaker testifies that one member of the Riverside Colony near Huron told him and other agents "that their spouse signed it for them and verified the signature on the nominating petition wasn't their signature at all." No charge has been filed for that falsification, but that's exactly the sort of falsification that the circulator's oath exists to check, and that's exactly why we take the circulator's oath so seriously, because it serves as the first, best protection of the integrity of the petition and the ballot.
Notably missing from the indictment is Sheet #203, with first signer Robert Leigh Johns. This sheet bears the signature of Bosworth's sister, Peggy Craig, dated January 7, and the signature of Bosworth as circulator. Our petition challenge cited this sheet as part of the evidence that Bosworth had falsified her circulator's oath. Bosworth has admitted she did not witness her sister's signature, yet the grand jury did not compel Craig to testify, and the indictment does not mention the sheet bearing her damning signature.
Also missing from the indictment is any mention of petition sheets allegedly circulated early at a Hutterite colony south of Plankinton. I broke this story the week before the primary; Shad Olson of KNBN News followed up the day after the primary. Bosworth has since launched an online intimidation campaign against a source identified so far only by first name. Bosworth advisor Stranahan has said this "witness... seems to have a truth problem," yet this "witness" was not a witness before the grand jury. Neither the grand jury indictment, the arrest warrant, or Agent Gortmaker's affidavit make any mention of illegal early circulation of Bosworth's petition.
Team Bosworth has said a lot in the preceding weeks, more than one would expect of a suspect charged with twelve felonies. But a careful reading of the grand jury indictment and available evidence suggests that she herself has not read the charges. Little of what Bosworth and her associates have said pertains to the charges that will be read to her tomorrow in Hughes County. Nothing of what she has said contributes to her defense against these charges... assuming she decides that waging a prolonged defense against these charges will profit her.