A worker collecting signatures to get Republican GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on the Virginia primary ballot turned in fraudulent signatures, Gingrich told a woman at a campaign stop in Iowa on Wednesday.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond confirmed the story, which was initially reported on CNN, and said: "We are evaluating our options."
Of the 11,100 signatures the campaign turned in, 1,500 of them turned in by the worker were false, Gingrich said. He said that the campaign needed 10,000 to be placed on the ballot.
Meanwhile, Rick Perry has filed a lawsuit to get on the ballot. Team Perry claims that requiring those who collect petitions to be in-state residents violates the First Amendment.
Pat Mullins, the chair of the Virginia GOP, responds, focusing on the procedural details of the verification process:
Despite this early notice and RPV’s exhortations to candidates, only one candidate availed himself of the 15,000 signature threshold – Governor Mitt Romney. RPV counted Governor Romney’s signatures, reviewed them for facial validity, and determined he submitted well over 15,000. Never in the party’s history has a candidate who submitted more than 15,000 signatures had 33 percent invalidated. The party is confident that Governor Romney met the statutory threshold.
Rep. Ron Paul submitted just under 15,000, and was submitted to signature-by-signature scrutiny on the same basis as the other candidates who submitted fewer than 15,000 signatures. After more than 7 hours of work, RPV determined that Rep. Paul had cleared the statutory 10,000/400 signature standard with ease.
Two other candidates did not come close to the 10,000 valid signature threshold. RPV regrets that Speaker Gingrich and Governor Perry did not meet the legal requirements established by the General Assembly. Indeed, our hope was to have a full Republican field on the ballot for Republican voters to consider on March 6.
The party will discuss the specific nature of their shortfalls if necessary. But the failure of these two candidates to meet the state requirements does not call into question the accuracy of the Party’s certification of the two candidates who are duly qualified to appear on the ballot.