Looking at the Bosworth case from a different angle. What do the signers have to say?
As you might note from the story below, including the comment section, the Bosworth post-election team has moved on from the campaign, into full PR mode, primarily aimed at attacking her detractors, and those who are pursuing a criminal case against her.
If you’re playing catch up at this point, here’s the pertinent portion of the press release that was sent out the day after the election:
Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that two separate Complaints have been filed charging Annette Bosworth, 42 , Sioux Falls and Clayton Walker, 33, Rapid City with election law violations. The Complaints have been filed in Hughes County where the nominating petitions were filed and are accompanied with a Probable Cause Affidavit setting forth the investigation conducted by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. Counts 1A- 1-F of both Complaints charge offering false or forged instrument for filing and constitute Class 6 felonies each punishable maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and/or $4,000 fine. Counts 2A-2F of both Complaints charge perjury and constitute Class 6 felonies each punishable maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and/or $4,000 fine.
According to various news sources, the charges on Bosworth were mainly directed at the petitions that were circulated and had signatures collected while she was on a medical mission in the Philippines.
With the arraignment taking place yesterday, I’d written a piece on some of the other inconsistencies that seem to be evident on Bosworth’s petitions, such as a series of signatories on one petition being from Minnehaha County, and another collected on the same day being from Pennington County. And there was also the one with Minnehaha & Lincoln county signatories signing on, when she was documented by her own website to be in Pennington & Meade counties.
Predictably, the Bosworth people, such as Lee Stranahan disagreed, and left numerous comments, tweets, etc., disagreeing. And that’s fine, I’m here to engender discussion.
But I was pecking through her petitions, I saw several names I recognized, such as former State Rep Mark Venner. He signed her petitions at the Hughes County Lincoln Day dinner, one where she and Joel Arends joined me at the table I was at. She had her clipboard in hand, and was collecting them as she could. I remember it vividly, as it was funny, with Venner being a Stace Nelson supporter and all.
But what about the other names I recognized? There were three of them from vastly different walks of life. I’m friendly enough with all of them to contact them and ask them a very simple question about the circumstances of when they signed the signature. And who was present.
I was a bit stunned at the response I received, to say the least.
“A*.” (*abbreviated for privacy) who I’ve known for many years, is a young mother & small businesswoman who signed Annette’s petition, right above her mother’s name. It stuck out like a sore thumb, as I didn’t know her to be as political as her mom could be, but there was her name on a petition.
So, I asked “A” - I see from looking at a petition that you & your mom signed a nominating petition for Annette Bosworth. You don’t happen to recall if she was the one passing the petition around, or was it someone else?
A.’s response? “It was someone else and not her.” (her, as in Annette was not the one who had her sign.) But, looking at this page of the petition, appearing as the person attesting that they had witnessed A’s signature was signed “Annette Bosworth.”
That brought me to “J*,” a young farmer in South Central South Dakota. “J” has a political pedigree, and forgive my memory, but may have been a TAR at one time. So, he’s very aware of his candidates.
And I posed the same question to him – J, you (or someone with the same name) signed a petition for Annette Bosworth. Was she the one circulating it? And if she wasn’t, do you recall who was?
The reply? “It was at the outdoor show down in sf. Not sure who the people were, they were set up a couple booths away from… the booth for Rounds.”
Just to be sure of his response, I pressed J – “Do you recall if it was Annette herself? I ask because she’s the one who signed off as having circulated it directly.”
His reply? He very distinctly replied “No it was not.”
At this point, two out of two said they signed, but she wasn’t there.
Yet Annette Bosworth’s name appeared at the bottom signing off stating “I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, and that either the signer or I added the printed name, the residence address of the signer, the date signing and the county of the voter registration.”
But “J,” just like “A” said Annette was not the person who witnessed their signature.
Finally (and that’s because it took longer to get in touch with them), I spoke with “C,” a very busy businessperson in Minnehaha County. “C” is in the thick of the political know, and very familiar with the politics and the personalities of Sioux Falls.
And I asked “C,” very frankly, “Did Annette have you sign her petition?”
“C” flat out told me “No. She was not present when I signed, and she was not the person circulating the petition.”
Wow. Three people. All in different parts of the state. All signing three completely different petitions.
All signers of them giving first hand accounts that despite the oath appearing at the bottom of the page being signed by Annette Bosworth, none of them were in her presence when they signed.
Speaking of the oath, on the three separate petitions involved with the A, J, and C – the people kind enough to give their personal accounts of signing the petitions to me? There were two different notaries who witnessed and attested Bosworth’s oath on each. Two had the oath witnessed by Joel Arends.
The other was witnessed and signed by Rodney E. Fitts, Notary Public.
Which doesn’t exactly help her narrative of blaming attorney Joel Arends for all of her legal woes. If it does anything, it brings the entire Bosworth PR narrative seriously into question. Because if the narrative they’re trying to press – “that it was Joel’s fault” that she signed petitions she didn’t circulate – isn’t accurate, it leaves one wondering which version of the story IS the accurate one.
But that’s not for us to decide. Annette should have ample opportunity to discuss the matter before a jury of her peers.