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Evidence Surfaces That Ward 1 Council Candidate Committed Election Fraud in 2010

by P.D. Lesko

A2P Notes: This is filed under “Scoops & Scores” because you read it here first!

First Ward Council candidate Eric Sturgis often tells voters his political resume includes involvement in politics since the age of 18. It’s an impressive story. However, a closer look reveals disturbing patterns, and a young man who, in 2010, committed election fraud, according to officials in the Oakland County Clerk’s office. When asked, an official in the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office remarked that officials there had been made aware that Sturgis’s name had appeared on the ballots in two different counties in 2010, in violation of state election laws.

This, combined with Sturgis’s record of supporting opposing candidates in the same races, make it’s tough for anyone to know where the 26-year-old really stands on any issue, or whether he is being truthful about the issues in his campaign platform. Who is Eric Sturgis, and what does he stand for, really? He’s a Democrat, he says. The Environment, he says. Transit, he says. Parks, he says. Public Safety, he says.

However, campaign donation records and letters to the editor show that as early as 2002 and as recent as June 2012 Sturgis (pictured, left) has supported both the Republican and the Democratic candidates in the same Michigan political races. He once gave his support to all three Democratic candidates running in the same primary. In 2010, Sturgis donated to the campaign of Republican Rick Snyder, as did Second Ward Council member Stephen Rapundalo. Rapundalo was turned out of office in November 2011 by Democratic voters it is thought, in part, for his support of Michigan’s GOP governor. At a recent candidate forum Sturgis told voters he would be “able to work with John Hieftje.” A few minutes later, Sturgis admitted he had signed the nominating of petition of Hieftje’s Republican opponent. At the same event, Sturgis told the audience he “regretted” supporting Republican Jane Lumm for mayor. Then, a few minutes later, in response to another question, told audience members he was of the opinion that “Jane Lumm is great on City Council.”

Playing both sides, rather ham-handedly, is 26-year-old Sturgis’s political record. So is making unfounded accusations against his political opponents, as he did at a recent candidate forum. There, he accused his opponent Sumi Kailasapathy of supporting “Republicans” for office. In response, Kailasapathy, the former Treasurer of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party, simply pulled from her binder a sheet of paper that showed Sturgis’s 2010 campaign donation to Snyder.

In 2011, when Sturgis ran for student congress at Oakland University, he filed three formal grievances against his opponents Benjamin Eveslage and Elisa Malile, who ran on the same ticket for president and vice president. According to the Oakland Post, the student newspaper:

Sturgis…asserted that the Eveslage/Malile ticket left campaign materials in the OUSC office and also used a printer located in the office for campaign purposes.

“We’re focused on what’s best for OU,” Sturgis, an OUSC legislator, said. “I have been around for four election cycles and never have I seen something this dirty….Sturgis…was also pushing for the impeachment of Eveslage from his current OUSC executive board position. Sturgis expressed concerns to OUSC judiciary committee chair Darrell Boyd via an e-mail sent Tuesday afternoon.

The charges were investigated and found baseless. Eveslage and Malile beat Sturgis and his running mate easily. During this 2011 campaign for student congress, Sturgis told the student newspaper: “It’s my belief that anyone representing OUSC should hold themselves above the standards.”

However, Eric Sturgis has not been holding himself anywhere near the standard required of those who run for office. A2Politico recently uncovered voter registration and election information that shows in 2010 Ward 1 City Council candidate Eric Sturgis ran for election in two different counties. He filled out a notarized Affadavit of Identity in each county in order to have his name appear on the ballots in both localities.

Records available on the Oakland County Clerk’s web site show that Sturgis ran for the position of Precinct Delegate, stating that his address was 2656 Lantern Ln. Apt. 303, Auburn Hills MI 48326. The following link is to the Adobe Acrobat file that includes this information (at page 9):

http://www.oakgov.com/clerkrod/division_committee/elections/20100803_election/2010_democratic_pct_del.pdf

In the same August 2010 election, Sturgis also ran for Precinct Delegate in Washtenaw County. For that race, he provided a Scio Township address – 6655 Jackson Road, #600 Ann Arbor MI 48103. That information is included in the Adobe Acrobat file found at this web address:

http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/clerk_register/elections/2010-elections/democratic-precinct-delegate-results

Sturgis did not win the Oakland County Precinct race, but did win the Washtenaw Precinct contest (tip o’ the keyboard to Glenn Thompson). He submitted conflicting Affidavits of Identity and failed to make timely withdrawal from either election, thus fraudulently appearing as a candidate on both ballots.

It’s unclear whether Sturgis’s political handlers and backers, including County Commissioner Leah Gunn, Fourth Ward Council member Marcia Higgins, Old Fourth Ward Vice President Ray Detter, DDA Board member Joan Lowenstein, and Ward 1 Council member Sandi Smith knew their candidate has a penchant for seeing his name on the ballot by hook or crook. It’s also unclear whether Sturgis’s local Democratic backers knew that he had supported Republican Rick Snyder in 2010. Then again, none of the Dems mentioned above backing Sturgis donated to Democrat Virg Bernero in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

During the past 7 years, Ward 1 Council candidate Eric Sturgis has registered to vote 11 times in 9 different cities. You’ll see his name twice on the Washtenaw County 2012 August ballot. As he did in Oakland and Washtenaw counties in 2010, county records show he is running as a Precinct Delegate. 

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Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=14050

33 Comments for “Evidence Surfaces That Ward 1 Council Candidate Committed Election Fraud in 2010”

  1. On January 22, 2013, Eric Stugis’ nomination to the City of Ann Arbor Taxicab Board by the Mayor was approved by City Council.

    CM Sabra Briere noted his residency on his resume was different than the Ann Arbor residence he cliamed on his city board application.

    Per the Ann Arbor Chronicle, the first thing Eric Sturgis did as a Taxicab Board member was to be absent for the first meeting that Thursday.

  2. All news was not bad for Eric Sturgis on election night.

    He was elected as a First Ward Democratic precinct delegate.

    I salute him on his victory and hope he will run for Sabra Briere’s First Ward seat next year.

    We need Eric Sturgis’ leadership on Ann Arbor City Council.

    • @Kerry, Eric Sturgis lied about his academic credentials and a host of other issues during the campaign. May God bless and keep Eric Sturgis far away from Ann Arbor City Council.

  3. Eric Sturgis recently had a fundraiser in which only four persons appeared – including his grandmother.

  4. Eric will win in August despite the “election fraud.”

    • @Kerry D. Why do you think Eric will win? His endorsements? His experience? His ability to make up stuff as fast as a speeding train? I think his candidacy has hurt his endorsers who look pretty much like horses asses for backing this kid. The fraud is relevant, but his claims to be a student at EMU when he wasn’t is just stupid and dishonest.

  5. @Mark, voter registration records show that Sturgis claimed THESE as his addresses in 2010, when he appeared on the ballot as a Precinct Delegate in two counties:

    5/5/10: Auburn Hills
    7/8/10: Longshire in Ann Arbor
    11/9/10: Scio Township
    6/21/11: Ann Arbor (most recent voter registration)

    He was NEVER registered to vote in Oakland County after he registered in Scio. If he said that, his voter registration records contradict his claims. Eric’s “explanation” raises more questions than it answers and, like you, I am not only concerned with his incompetence but his inability to tell the truth.

    As for Larry Kestenbaum, he’s scared fartless of Leah Gunn, who’s backing Sturgis. Gunn (through her PAC) has been helping Kestenbaum pay down his substantial debt left over from when he ran for office initially. I take what Larry Kestenbaum has to say with a grain of salt. It would have been better reporting to have spoken with someone at the State Elections office. Ryan Stanton is lazy and Kestenbaum is always willing to do a favor.

    • From what you are telling me is that he filed as a precinct delegate candidate in Scio Township when he was not registered in that township but only did so after the August of 2010 election (November of 2010).

      I believe his statement reported on at the last debate is that he lived in Scio prior to moving to Auburn Hills.

  6. At a recent debate, Sturgis claimed that he actually moved to a new residence in Oakland Countyafter filing an Affidavit of Identity to run as a Democratic precinct delegate in Scio Township. He then filed as a candidate in Auburn Hills.

    I largely agree with County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum’s public statement that Stiurgis’
    conduct in this regard did not necessarily rise to the level of election fraud. I however would like to point out that Surgis had he opportunity to withdraw as a candidate in Scio Township by the end of the week after the filing deadline for the August primary election ballot.

    Even though election fraud may be difficult to prove here, it shows us that Eric did not take reasonable remedial action by withdrawing his Scio Township candidacy before filing as a candidate in Auburn Hills. This shows lack of competence on his part that led this controversy to fester.

  7. [...] of his misrepresentation of his status as a student at Eastern Michigan University, as well as an election fraud complaint filed against him by an Ann Arbor resident. In 2010, Sturgis appeared on the ballot as a Precinct Delegate in both [...]

  8. @Mark, Dave Askins is not really qualified to contradict a County Clerk’s Office, though I’m sure he’d love to think he’s an expert in everything. He spent months trying to get AnnArbor.com to admit a reporting mistake. Then, when that didn’t work, he and Morgan ratted A2.com out to the Associate Press. Crazy stuff. Funny.

    You were not at the event, but for me the most interesting part of his “chronicle” was the casual way he described Sabra Briere’s two hours of heckling. It was unreal. Mike Henry should have told her to keep quiet or leave, but I guess he’s not that kinda moderator. Stanton left her crazy outbursts out completely, probably because she’s one of the only Council members he can get to return his calls for quotes.

    The event was audio-recorded, however, and it would be fun to splice together her better moments, such the one during which she yelled at Sumi in the middle of an answer to a question about the DDA’s continued “interest” in a convention center.

  9. The comments section to the recent article in the Ann Arbor Chronicle on the Sturgis-Kailaspathy debate make multiple references to the election law controversies alluded to herein.

    Dave Askins has opined in one of those comments that “election fraud” is too strong a word to describe being listed as candidate on the ballot in two separate counties.

    Joan Lowenstein and Leah Gunn posted comments to that article but ignored the election law controversy regarding the candidate they endorsed.

    So far nothing in annarbor.com …………………..

  10. [...] his degree at Oakland Community College, a fact which is pending conformation by school officials, A2Politico uncovered evidence that in 2010 Sturgis had placed himself on the same August ballot for election as a Precinct [...]

  11. money&buildings

    After quite a bit of reading, I feel similarly about the Ward 5 race – Chuck Warp’s endorsers (the mayor, etc.) must be afraid of the expertise, track record, and intellect of Ms.
    Armentrout. Also, it looks like Jack Eaton in Ward 4 has an excellent understanding of the city budget and law. Both Eaton and Armentrout stress bringing back basic
    services and reponsible spending, and both have a good grasp what the mayor & gang want to do with Fuller Park.

  12. @money&buildings (still the best screen name EVER IMHO) I actually thought Sturgis presented himself relatively well. Of course, giving Hieftje credit for bringing Ann Arbor through the worst recession in 80 years makes me want to laugh. President Obama brought the United States through the Great Recession. Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor benefitted from $750,000,000 in federal stimulus money. Hieftje, whom the Ann Arbor News once editorialized “sprints to take credit” for other people’s work, is taking credit for the fact that the University of Michigan has kept Ann Arbor afloat, not the brilliance of John Hieftje, who has quadrupled the city’s debt.

  13. money&buildings

    Eric’s election record and history aside, he presented himself in the debate last week as immature and not able to grasp the depth of issues. He began about half of his answers with, “As a democrat I believe that…”. Evidence of the ability to think independently was absent. Other answers were very obviously from the mayor’s playbook. Answers were
    generally superficial. Ann Arbor will not be served well (an understatement) if he wins office.

    Sumi K. is an intellect with a strong understanding of the (unnecessarily) complicated budget. One of her degrees is in political science from Wellesley College. She showed a
    proclivity for nuance, and for taking time to think through a problem. That Ann Arbor has the chance of electing someone of her caliber for our local council is quite amazing. The endorsers of Eric must be shaking in their boots.

  14. Alan Goldsmith

    So where IS Sturgis? I’d love to hear his comments, but if we have to wait until the next debate, that would be a rather bonehead campaign move. And…tick tick tick…still waiting for our journalist friends (rolling on the floor laughing here) to pick this up @ the Newhouse blog. Or the Chronicle. Or the Observer. Or…never mind. Sturgis is probably too busy pulling up campaign signs to respond.

  15. @Kerry, as always, thanks for your comment. These aren’t allegations. The piece provides links to public documents on the websites of both the Washtenaw and Oakland County Clerks’ offices. On both of these documents, Eric is listed as running for Precinct Delegate. He ran in two counties at the same time. He won in Scio and, as a result, is a Precinct Delegate for that Township.

    Here’s what the Charter says: “Pursuant to City Charter, candidates for Mayor and City Council must be registered electors of the City (mayor) and a resident of their ward (councilmember) for at least one year immediately preceding election.”

    Eric Sturgis, according to county clerk documents, has been resident in Ann Arbor for about 15 months over the past SEVEN YEARS. He registered to vote in Ann Arbor in 2004, and was not registered to vote in Ann Arbor again until 7/8/10. Then, he was registered in Scio on 11/9/2010 until 6/20/2011. Between January and March 2012, Sturgis lived in Ohio and attended Marietta College. It’s not clear at all whether he meets the residency requirements set forth in the Charter.

    He was registered to vote in Ann Arbor, but was in Ohio during the period in which he would have had to be “a resident of their ward (councilmember) for at least one year immediately preceding election.”

  16. I would like to place a few words in defense of Mr. Sturgis, whom I endorse in the August primary:

    (1)Eric Sturgis has not had an opportunity to defend these allegations and is entitled to a presumption of innocence;

    (2)There is no proof cited that he is not a current Ann Arbor resident or that he is currently ineligible to be on the ballot for the First Ward City Council seat;

    (3)If he is currently a Democratic Party precinct delegate that has moved to Ann Arbor in 2011, all he needs to do is notify the Washtenaw County Democratic Party so they can note that he has vacated his office by his change in residence;

    (4)The Oakland County felony indictments cited above involved not only persons with fraudulent residence addresses but false notarizations on election forms and massive scale improprieties;

    (5)The apparent inconsistencies in filing for the ballot in two separate counties could be explainable by innocent mistake or inadvertence, not fraudulent behavior.

    I do not see this story as a “death knell” of the Sturgis campaign – only a capaign issue that will be hashed out in the public eye with the electorate being the final arbiter of its importance on Election Day.

    I have supported Eric Sturgis in the past and will continue to do so.

  17. glenn thompson

    I concur with Mark, Sturgis won in Scio Twp but lost in Oakland county.

    Another point about Mr Sturgis is that he was attending Marietta college and playing on the tennis team as a Junior
    in March of this year. http://pioneers.marietta.edu/roster.aspx?path=mten

    Does simply being registered to vote in AA satisfy the residency requirements to run for office? Is it what the voters expect?

    • The voters expect professionalism.

      Sturgis is an American-born local guy.

      • @Kerry, between 2004 and 2012, Sturgis has been registered to vote in Ann Arbor only about 15 months, total.

      • “American-born local guy”

        I asssume that is in contrast to the fact Ms. Kailasapathy is originally from a foreign country.

        I believe that you are likely corrct that some voters may want to vote for someone American-born more than an immigrant. The mentality that Eric Sturgis “is one of us” could help him in the August primary in the First Ward. If Eric does win, which I believe is improbable given his lack of qualifications, then it will be due to that mentality.

  18. Alan Goldsmith

    The Mayor’s buddies were so desperate to field a Candidate in the
    1st Ward, they obviously took anyone with a pulse. It will be intersting
    to see how they and the local media handle this. So far, the silense
    is deafening.

  19. @Junior, I have been informed that an Ann Arbor voter is planning to file official complaints against Sturgis with the Oakland County Clerk’s office, the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office, as well as the Secretary of State.

  20. @Glenn, thanks for the clarification. I was looking only at his appearance on the ballots on Oakland and Washtenaw Counties in the same election.

  21. @Junior, according to voter registration records, Sturgis registered to vote as a resident of Ann Arbor on 6/21/11. He has moved around quite a bit, and registered to vote at multiple addresses since 2004. One question voters might ask is whether Eric Sturgis, the candidate who’s “from Ann Arbor,” is planning to be here in six months. If, as @Glenn points out, he won in Scio, then there’s the questions of whether someone who’s been elected in Scio can run in Ann Arbor. It’s pretty messy, and all it takes is a look at his academic and voter records to see this is a guy who may be from Ann Arbor, but since 2004 has only been registered to vote here for a little over 15 months, total.

  22. @Alan, in doing research for a piece about Sturgis, I found this information. Officials in the County Clerks’ offices in Oakland and Washtenaw County were pretty horrified, which should tell you something. The Oakland County Clerk said there was absolutely no way Sturgis’s name had been listed in error. The Washtenaw County Clerk’s office confirmed the same thing. Basically, I asked : “Can a candidate run for Precinct Delegate in two counties? Both times officials were very clear that to do so was illegal and election fraud. Eric Sturgis is a pawn in a very sad game played with someone who, obviously, is not ready to run for elected office. The elected officials backing him obviously didn’t do their homework. Either that, or they don’t care if the candidate they’re backing defrauded voters.

  23. Thank you for this important story. I had previosly heard that Eric lived with his grandmother in the First Ward of Ann Arbor. I also had heard that he was attending Eastern Michigan University.

    Two leaders of the Oakland County Democratic Party were indicted and pled guilty to felony election fraud. They received sentences of probation. The charges arose out of a fake Tea Party that was later disqualified from the ballot. So this not the only allegation of election fraud arising out of Oakland County.

    The purpose of a precinct delegate convention election is so that the county Democratic Party can elect and deliver state convention delegates to the Michigan Democratic Party. If Sturgis were eelected as a precinct delegate in both races this would create the conceivable possibility that he would vote twice on behalf of each congressional district delegations at the state party convention and even at the national convention if elected by members of his congressional district committee.

    The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections office in Lansing should be notified of this as well as the County Clerk’s Election Division offices in both counties.

    I would hope that Mr. Sturgis addresses these weighty allegations. Please advise us on follow-ups to this most important story.

  24. glenn thompson

    Actually I think Mr. Sturgis was elected to both of the positions. Quite simply it was case of “vote for not more than two” Mr. Sturgis came in second out of only two
    candidates.

    • @Glenn Thompson:

      In checking out respective county election division records, it does appear that Sturgis was indeed elected to a precinct delegate slot out of Scio Township, however he did not win either of the precinct delegate openings in the Ninth Precinct of the City of Auburn Hills as he garnered only 23 votes and finished last, behind the first and second place finishers, who won.

      Interestingly, the Affidavit of Identity document in order to be listed on the Democratic or Republican party primary ballot in the August election requires the precinct delegate candidate to certify that he is a registered elector in his precinct. He obviously cannot be a legally registered voter in two separate counties, which begs the question of how all this occurred.

      • @Mark, one imagines that it was a combination of the Secretary of State and Sturgis, himself, who never withdrew from the Oakland County race.

  25. Alan Goldsmith

    Good job! Let’s guess how long the rest of our local media ignores this one.

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