Chairman of Ind. County Dem. Party Resigns Amid Scandal

The Indiana Democratic county chairman of St. Joseph County, Butch Morgan, stepped down from his position Monday night amid accusations of a signature fraud scandal. Hundreds of signatures were faked for a petition supporting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. The investigation was spearheaded by South Bend Tribune and Howey Politics.

Butch insisted that he had “done nothing wrong” and that he was stepping down because he didn’t “want to be a distraction to candidates running in upcoming local elections,” according to the South Bend Tribune.

"I regret having to resign and hope no one will misinterpret the reasons for my resignation," he said in a written statement. "I have done nothing wrong and I look forward to an investigation that will exonerate me of any wrongdoing.”

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Morgan had served the Indiana Democratic Party as chairman since 1995. His interim replacement will be the vice chair, Debbie Ladyga-Block.

"I have known Butch Morgan for 32 years and would like to thank him for the work he has done for our Party and community as our chairman," said Ladyga-Block in a news release issued Tuesday.

The election to determine who will permanently replace Morgan will be held on Oct. 28.

One of the false names on the petition was Indiana Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan. According to the South Bend Tribune, Kernan said the signature on the petition was not his. However, his false signature as well as hundreds of others was signed off on by the county voter registration office with the use of a rubber stamp.

Investigations are taking place to determine who was involved in the scandal. On Friday, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb requested a federal probe to be conducted by the Department of Justice.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker said he supports an investigation “to determine how this isolated incident occurred and hold anyone involved accountable.”

Holcomb, however, disagrees.

"While my counterpart continues to call this an 'isolated' incident," Holcomb said according to the Tribune, "it is becoming clearer by the day there was nothing isolated about the forging and certifying of potentially hundreds of signatures in the 2008 Democratic primary."

So far, reports indicate that the questionable signatures are limited to only those on the St. Joseph County petitions.

According to state law, a candidate running for president, senator, and governor must submit petitions signed by at least 500 registered voters in each of the nine congressional districts in Indiana in order to qualify for the statewide primary ballot.

Neither Morgan nor the Indiana Democratic Party could be reached for comment.

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