The Citizens Clean Elections Commission decertified a Senate candidate after finding that dozens of his $5 contribution forms had been allegedly forged.
The commission voted at its May 20 meeting to decertify Robert Green and fine him $20,000. Green is seeking the Republican nomination for the LD7 Senate seat.
Green, a business development director for a telecommunications company, is no longer eligible for Clean Elections funding, but said he plans to continue his campaign as a privately funded candidate.
Green acknowledged that the disqualified forms were collected “improperly,” but said they were collected by a campaign volunteer who contacted him through the website Craigslist. He said the volunteer stopped contacting him after about three weeks of work, and he did not keep her name or phone number. Green said he does not know where the volunteer got the $5 contributions that were turned in with the disqualified forms.
“I did have a volunteer gather forms that, it appears, were done incorrectly,” Green said. “And unfortunately, in my naiveté, I put my signature on those forms.”
Green’s decertification came after the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office determined that two of the 12 signatures taken as a random sample were invalid. The recorder’s office ultimately rejected 136 of Green’s 265 $5 contributions. The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office contracted with Affiliated Forensic Laboratory, an independent company with expertise in handwriting and signature analysis, and the lab determined that the questionable signatures were probably written by one to three people.
The CCEC hired The Drake Group, a private firm, to contact the signatories listed on the 136 forms. According to a report written by CCEC Executive Director Todd Lang, 62 said they did not sign the forms or contribute to Green’s campaign, while another 53 could not be contacted. Twenty-one of the rejected forms were found to be valid.
Michael Becker, voter education manager for the CCEC, said the incident demonstrated that the system for verifying $5 contributions worked.
“It was able to catch the questionable forms before any funding was given to the gentleman or anything like that. So the process worked the way it should,” Becker said.
Green said he does not have the money to pay the $20,000 fine, and said he may appeal the decertification. Becker said Green has until June 3 to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge.
“They seem to be going after me with a lot of gusto throughout the whole process,” Green said.
Lang recommended that Green face the maximum fine of $31,000 – $500 for each invalid signature – but the commission reduced that amount. Lang said the CCEC will likely refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office.