About 100,000 unique visitors a day enjoy the wry political observations of Philadelphia-based blogger Duncan Black (known to fans as “Atrios”) at his Eschaton blog, but evidently former representative Babette Josephs is not one of them.
Mr. Black’s name and signature appear on one of former Rep. Josephs’ nominating petitions, but he has attested, both in writing to the Keystone Politics team and in an affidavit submitted today to the Commonwealth Court, that the signature is a forgery.
Black has also confirmed that the signature listed below his, at the same address, is also not a real signature.
Alisa Snyder is not even registered to vote at Black’s address. In fact, according to Black, “Alisa Snyder lived at the address for a bit but she moved to Boston in June 2012. Still there AFAIK. Certainly was not at address on March 2nd,” but acccording to the petition sheets notarized and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of State by the Josephs Campaign, Black and Snyder live together and signed at the same time, in the presence of a Josephs campaign petition circulator, on March 2nd.
“I was home for part of the day on March 2nd. I likely would have signed a petition if someone presented it to me as I generally do sign ballot access petitions whether or not I’m a supporter. No one came to the house on that day, nor did anyone approach me with a petition elsewhere.”
This alleged forgery is just one of over 400 deviations cited by Representative Brian Sims’s legal team in a complaint filed with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court today, which argues that petitions filed by Rep. Josephs’ campaign have major flaws that could disqualify her candidacy in the May 20th primary election.
Some signatures appear to have just one issue according to the Sims camp, while others are alleged to have numerous abnormalities – incorrect date or address information, or handwriting that raises suspicion of multiple signatures completed by one person.
It is unclear whether Former Representative Josephs chose to challenge any of Representative Sims’ signatures. Today was the last day to file such a challenge. We will update our readers with any news of a challenge of Representative Sims’ petition signatures.
While the successful challenge of petition signatures in court does not necessarily mean a direct and intentional crime was committed, forgery is a crime that is punishable under Pennsylvania law. If a charge is brought against a circulator as a misdemeanor in the first degree, the sentence attributed to it is up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
If the charge against an alleged forger is sought as a felony of the third degree, the sentence is much more serious; those convicted could serve up to seven years in prison and be forced to pay up to a $15,000 fine. The highest classification of forgery offenses are as a felony of the second degree, carrying the weight of up to ten years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
Babette Josephs did not return our call requesting comment. We will update the story if we hear from her.
For a refresher on petition challenges, refer back to this excellent piece by KP’s Jake Sternberger, and make sure to follow @ckennedy124 and @keystonepol on Twitter for ongoing updates as this story develops.
UPDATE: Read the Sims petition challenge docs below: