One of the signatures turned in by a woman who circulated petitions for U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser belonged to a deceased voter.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams says a staffer in his office was notified in mid-April that there were problems with petitions collected by a circulator named Maureen Moss.
Williams says the company hired to review candidate petition signatures noticed similarities in the handwriting of signatures in a portion of a petition she gathered. They also found that one signature belonged to a voter who had died.
The signature said to be from Judy DeSantis was rejected, but the ballot-access manager was unable to definitely confirm that the other signatures in question were forged.
While Denver7 political reporter Marshall Zelinger talked to voters who claimed their signatures were forged last week, Williams says higher ups in his office were not aware until Tuesday that contractor Integrated Documents Solutions first raised questions about some of the signatures back in April.
“As soon as I was made aware of this, I directed my staff to refer the matter of the deceased voter to the district attorney,” Williams said Tuesday.
Signature collector Maureen Moss worked for Black Diamond Outreach until she was let go when the forgery allegations surfaced.
"She is fired as a result of your investigation," Steve Adams, partner of Black Diamond Outreach, told Denver7 on Monday. "And our internal investigation."
"What did you internal investigation find?" asked Zelinger.
"It showed us that there were very suspect signatures. Coupled with the report that you did, [it] gave us reason to believe that they were forged," said Adams.
On Monday, investigators with multiple District Attorneys offices met to discuss one complaint from liberal group ProgressNow Colorado and complaints from two voters who said they did not sign petitions for Keyser.
Those two voters are from Arapahoe County and contacted the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office to complain about their signatures being forged.
Keyser qualified for the U.S. Senate primary ballot by petitioning onto the ballot. He had to go to court after the Secretary of State originally rejected some signatures. A judge allowed those signatures to be counted.
The Keyser campaign hired Clear Creek Strategies to collect signatures to qualify Keyser for the June 28 mail-in Republican Senate primary ballot. Clear Creek Strategies subcontracted some of the work to Black Diamond Outreach. Maureen was an employee of Black Diamond Outreach.
"When we called her in to talk to her, she blatantly denied it and at that point we let her go," said Adams. "She didn't admit to anything."
"Yet you still let her go?" said Zelinger.
"We still let her go. It's like if we get a complaint of a canvasser at the door, and the resident says, 'Your canvasser came to our door (and) smelled like pot,' they get fired. And they can deny it until the cows come home."
On Monday afternoon, Keyser spoke with Denver Post reporter John Frank, giving more detailed answers than the "I'm on the ballot" phrase he told Zelinger multiple times on Thursday.
"It appears, in fact, that some of those signatures were turned in in an improper manner and that's a very, very serious thing," Keyser said to the Denver Post. "It's an extremely serious allegation. I think that speaks to why I was very measured and very disciplined in talking about this."
He also took exception with Denver7 going to his home on Wednesday afternoon, after repeated attempts to reach his campaign by phone, text and tweets failed.
"Like any father, I was upset that my privacy was invaded at my house while I wasn't there," Keyser said.
Black Diamond Outreach collected signatures for Keyser's campaign by going door-to-door, visiting registered Republican voters at their homes.
Marshall Zelinger is a Peabody Award-winning journalist. He covers politics, breaking news and investigations for Denver7 and co-hosts Politics Unplugged on Sunday afternoons on Denver7. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Email your story tips to Marshall at Marshall@thedenverchannel.com.