A Virginia Republican and supporter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) pleaded guilty on Tuesday to perjury and 36 counts of voter fraud.
Adam Ward, 28, claimed he collected more than 11,000 petition signatures for Gingrich during the Republican presidential primaries, in an effort to ensure the candidate’s embattled campaign had a spot on the state’s ballot. Over 4,000 of those petition signatures turned out to be fake, according to NBC News affiliate WVIR-TV.
Gingrich ultimately failed to qualify for his own party’s primary in Virginia and instead campaigned in the state as a write-in candidate.
The failed presidential candidate fell short of the 10,000 signatures needed to appear on the statewide ballot because the local Republican Party officials double-checked the signatures to ensure they were valid.
Ward’s fraudulent acts could have given Gingrich enough to close that gap and appear on the ballot, which could have potentially changed the outcome of the Republican presidential primaries.
The only other mainstream GOP candidate in 2011 to fail at signature gathering in Virginia was Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). Nearly half of the 11,900 signatures his campaign turned in were unable to be verified by party officials. However, unlike Gingrich, none of Perry’s organizers have faced criminal charges.
[“Stock photo: A voter casts a ballot,” via Shutterstock.]