Nonetheless, The BRAD BLOG has received confirmation from two different state agencies that the 1,500 alleged cases of ballot petition fraud said to have been carried out on behalf of the Gingrich campaign, in their unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Republican primary ballot in Virginia, are now being carried out by the state Attorney General's office.
In late December, after Gingrich had failed to turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, he was caught on video tape telling a supporter in Iowa that the reason for the failure was due to a campaign worker who created 1,500 fraudulent signatures.
"We turned in 11,100 -- we needed 10,000 -- 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud," Gingrich is seen and heard saying in video originally aired by CNN.
The former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives downplayed the incident, by explaining to the woman that the entire affair was "just a mistake," after they had "hired somebody who turned in false signatures."
Neither he nor his campaign, however, has made the name of the alleged "one guy" public, to our knowledge, despite the extraordinary number of fraudulent signatures created and turned in by that "one guy" in what an official at the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) described to us as "definitely an illegal act."
News of the embarrassing criminal investigation is confirmed today, even as voters go to the polls for Florida's 2012 GOP Primary, where Gingrich is facing off against front-runner Mitt Romney who, ironically -- and uncomfortably enough for Republicans -- may also find himself the subject of a criminal voter fraud investigation in the not-too-distant future...
Gingrich fraud investigation confirmed
In mid-January, in a little-noticed blog item by the Washington Post's Anita Kumar, it was reported that the SBE was requesting a probe by the office of VA's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) into what SBE chairman Charlie Judd described as "irregularities" found on the Gingrich petitions.
Late last week, SBE Deputy Secretary Justin Riemer confirmed to The BRAD BLOG both the referral to the AG's office as well as the fact that an investigation into the ballot petition fraud was officially being carried out by the AG.
"We're not an investigative body, but this issue has been referred to the State AG by the State Board of Elections, after learning of allegations of fraudulent signature gathering in that case, and a number of others," Riemer told us by telephone. "My understanding is that an investigation is underway," he said.
When we asked what "other" cases had also been referred to the AG, he pointed us to them for more details, though he characterized the petition signature fraud as described by Gingrich, if true, as "definitely an illegal act."
"We can confirm that there is an investigation underway," Brian J. Gottstein, Director of Communication for the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia confirmed to The BRAD BLOG via email on Monday, "but other than that, we cannot comment about an ongoing investigation."
When pressed as to whether Gingrich and his campaign were cooperating with the investigation, whether they had revealed the name of the "one guy" they claim created 1,500 fraudulent signatures, and what other cases were being probed as a part of the same investigation, Gottstein demurred.
"To maintain the integrity of any investigation, we can't disclose details. Sorry," he wrote.
He also responded that our related requests under the state of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were "exempt" from the act, presumably due to the ongoing criminal investigation.
Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul successfully turned in enough valid petitions to qualify for the GOP primary in VA, which happens to be the home state of Gingrich, formerly a Congressman from Georgia, until he was forced to resign following an unprecedented ethics scandal in which he was fined some $300,000.