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Florida and Kansas are accusing 2 people of forging signatures for petition drives


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Florida and Kansas officials are accusing two petition circulators of forging voter signatures during campaigns to put an abortion rights measure to a vote in Florida and allow the No Labels party to put candidates on the Kansas ballot.

Jamie Johnson, 47, and George Andrews III, 30, both from Dade City, Florida, in the Tampa area, were in jail Wednesday, each on $150,000 bail. Johnson was being held in Sarpy County, Nebraska, south of Omaha, and Andrews in the Tampa area.

Each faces 20 felony charges in Florida, while in Kansas, Andrews faces 30 felony counts and Johnson, 19.

While Andrews has been in custody in Florida since February, authorities in both states couldn't find Johnson until she was arrested a week ago in Nebraska. Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach announced the arrest Tuesday and said he is seeking to bring Johnson to Kansas for prosecution. She is scheduled to have a July 1 extradition hearing in Nebraska.

Kobach's office said Andrews and Johnson together forged at least 46 signatures on petitions to get the centrist No Labels group recognized as a political party in Kansas, which allows it to put nominees on the November ballot.

Florida officials said Andrews and Johnson submitted a total of 133 invalid petitions in multiple counties during the effort to get the abortion rights measure on the November ballot.

Neither successful petition drive appears to have depended on the signatures the two submitted. In Kansas, No Labels needed more than 20,000, while in Florida, the figure was at least 891,500.

Still, Kobach said that with election fraud, “It doesn't matter how far you run.”

"We will drag you back to Kansas and prosecute you,” Kobach said in a statement.

No Labels chief strategist Ryan Clancy said Wednesday that the Kansas case involves a former vendor's subcontractor and that vendors are required to provide training for petition circulators and have a third party verify signatures.

“No Labels will fully cooperate with any inquiry,” Clancy said in an emailed statement.

A public defender representing Andrews in Florida did not return a telephone message Wednesday seeking comment. Tom Strigenz, a public defender for Johnson in Nebraska, said she does not have an attorney in Kansas and that she will fight extradition to both Florida and Kansas.

Stringenz couldn't say whether Johnson was in Nebraska to circulate petitions for proposed ballot initiatives there. She has no ties the state, he said.


Beck reported from Omaha, Nebraska.