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‘Potential irregularities’ prompt DA’s office to seize petitions in failed effort to unseat Newport Beach councilman

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office seized the petitions used in a failed attempt to recall Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter over concerns regarding “potential irregularities,” the city said Friday, Jan. 12.
A search warrant to take the petitions was served on the Orange County Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana, according to an email from City Clerk Leilani Brown to the City Council, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp.
No other details about the seizure, allegations or date the petitions were taken were made available.
“The search warrant was served under seal and we have not received a copy of the search warrant,” Brown’s email said. “I am in contact with the DA’s office and hope to receive more information next week. I will let you know as soon as I have more information.”
District attorney spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden did not immediately return calls for comment.
A group formed to oust Peotter, the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, turned in 10,696 signatures in October in an effort to force a special recall election. More than 2,300 were deemed invalid.
That left 8,339 valid signatures, 106 short of the required 15 percent threshold of registered voters in the city.
Peotter has called the effort against him dishonest, adding that the seizure of petitions “just adds to the discrediting of the recallers.”
Phil Greer, the recall committee’s attorney, said Friday he doesn’t think anyone from the committee acted improperly.
“My understanding is that nobody from the volunteer committee is involved [in the irregularities] or anything of that nature,” he said.
Recall committee organizer Susan Skinner said a third-party circulator may have forged signatures.
“Apparently the warrant is sealed, but I understand that one of the paid petitioners allegedly forged signatures,” Skinner said. “This is a big, bad violation of election law and not a smart thing to do. It was not one of our volunteers.”
Forging petition signatures is a misdemeanor, according to the California election code.
Peotter has maintained that the effort to unseat him is because of his politically incorrect personality.
Recall supporters cited his support for the failed Museum House high-rise project, what they call poor financial decisions, his vote to decline the city’s share of extra gas tax revenue in a protest of the controversial tax hike and his behavior – they said he insulted residents and colleagues.
Source: Oc Register

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