U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser talks around questions about forged petition signatures

DENVER - Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jon Keyser during a forumon Thursday sidestepped questions about forged signatures that were submitted on his ballot petitions for his candidacy run.

The forgeries were uncovered when Denver7 noticed similarities between many of the signatures on Keyser petitions from the first congressional district and that of the woman named “Maureen” who collected them.

When Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger talked to Keyser after the forum and told him he had talked to ten people who said their signatures were forged on Keyser's petitions, the candidate refused to say what he would tell those voters if he met them face to face.

"I’m on the ballot," is how he began his response. "I’m on the ballot, and there are people like you that have done the Democrats work who have spent hundreds of hours on this.  It’s not going to take away from the fact that I’m on the ballot and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet."

That answer is similar to the responses he gave during the forum, when he was the first candidate to get a direct question.

The moderator asked Keyser if he knew some of the signatures were forged and what the consequences should be.

“Here’s the important thing: I’m on the ballot and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet,” answered Keyser. “And I can guarantee you this, the democrats are doing everything they can right now to derail me from being on the primary ballot. I’m not going to let them do it. You know what? I’m taking the bark off Michael Bennet right now and I’m not even started. I’m not even started. The democrats know that I’m the only guy that can beat Michael Bennet and that’s why they are coming after me. They’ve been coming after me for months. And you know what? They can keep it coming, it’s not going to bother me. I’m going to beat Michael Bennet in November. I am on the ballot and I really ask for your vote."

The moderator asked Keyser again if the signatures were forged.

“Again, the important thing is I’m on the ballot. I’m on the ballot. It’s already done,” was Keyser’s response.

The moderator then went into more detail about how men and women have told Denver7 on camera that the signatures submitted with their names and addresses are not their’s.

“I will ask you again, do you believe they were forged, yes or no?”

“Yeah, I’m on the ballot and I am very focused on making sure we beat Michael Bennet folks. That’s what we’ve got to do. The democrats are going to be relentless. They are not going to stop.”

The moderator tried one more time, asking Keyser if he was aware of any criminal investigation into the matter.

“They are not going to stop. I’ve answered your question. They are not going to stop,” said Keyser, who then turned his the attention toward the group that initially found discrepancies in the petitions. “The ProgressNow groups that are funded by George Soros, they’ve done everything they can. They’re going to continue to do everything they can.  We’ve got to have someone who can standup and take this because they haven’t even started yet.  They are doing everything they can. They’ve spent hundreds of hours to try and go through everything they can to derail my campaign. They’re not going to do it. I’m going to beat Michael Bennet in November.”

During a second GOP debate Thursday night, Denver7 reporter Marc Stewart once again pressed the issue of the forged signatures.

"Have you as a campaign done any kind of investigation into the questions about the eligibility and the accuracy of the signatures?" Stewart asked.

"I’ve answered this question, I’ve answered it a number of times now and you know I’m moving forward and that’s what’s really important," Keyser said. 

"But you haven’t answer the question," Stewart replied, to which Keyser replied, "Listen the ballots already set. I’m moving forward with our campaign.”

Asked about if he would want an investigation to look into the allegations, Keyser said, "There’s a very very vigorous process that we have in Colorado. The Secretary of State, they’re tasked with going through each individual signature, they’ve looked at all of them.”

Earlier Thursday, ProgressNow Colorado sent a letter to Mitch Morrissey and Peter Weir, the District Attorneys in Denver and Jefferson County, requesting an investigation into the alleged forgeries.

"We ask that you pursue a criminal investigation of Jon Keyser and his campaign immediately. Colorado voters must have full confidence in the integrity of the election process," wrote ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Alan Franklin.

Denver7 uncovered multiple forged signatures while going door-to-door to the voters' homes to verify the authenticity of the names following a tip last week.

The signatures in question were all turned in by a signature collector named Maureen. Signatures could start being collected on Feb. 4. According to the Secretary of State's office, Maureen registered as a Republican on Feb. 15. As of April 14, she is now listed as an Independent.

Denver7 also discovered that she has a criminal history. In New York State in 1998, she was charged with fraud, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted fraud and sentenced to five years probation. In 2005, she was charged with grand larceny and robbery, but pleaded down to lesser charges.

Keyser submitted 16,067 signatures, with 11,436 accepted. However, he fell 86 signatures short in Congressional District Three. The Secretary of State rejected signatures over technical errors made by a signature collector. The home address the collector provided on the petition affidavit was different than the address on file with the Secretary of State. Keyser challenged the ruling in court and a judge, who is allowed more leniency than the Secretary of State, determined the rejected signatures could count.

Jack Graham is the only candidate who made the ballot by turning in signatures without having to go to court over rejected signatures. He turned in 22,876 signatures, yet only had 12,891 validated.

Robert Blaha turned in 17,844 signatures, with 10,507 deemed valid. The Secretary of State determined that Blaha had fallen short in three congressional districts because of multiple technical errors by signature collectors. The addresses some of the collectors wrote on the petition affidavits were different than the addresses on file with the Secretary of State. Blaha successfully challenged those rejected signatures in court.

Ryan Frazier submitted 18,581 signatures, with 11,108 accepted. The Secretary of State determined that Frazier had fallen short in four congressional districts because of the same multiple technical errors by signature collectors. Frazier sued the Secretary of State, but was only able to get the judge to approve some of the signatures. He did not get enough to qualify for the ballot. He is currently appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court to allow more signatures to be counted.

The winner of the June 28 mail-in primary will take on Sen. Michael Bennet in the November general election.

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