The Orange County District Attorney’s Office seized the petitions used in a failed attempt to recall Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter over concerns regarding “potential irregularities,” the city said Friday, Jan. 12.
A search warrant was served on the Orange County Registrar of Voters office in Santa Ana, according to an email from City Clerk Leilani Brown to the City Council, City Manager Dave Kiff and City Attorney Aaron Harp.
No other details about the seizure or allegations were made available.
“The search warrant was served under seal and we have not received a copy of the search warrant,” Brown’s email said. “I am in contact with the DA’s office and hope to receive more information next week. I will let you know as soon as I have more information.”
District attorney spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden did not immediately return calls for comment.
A group formed to oust Peotter, the Committee to Recall Scott Peotter, turned in 10,696 signatures in October in an effort to force a special recall election. More than 2,300 were deemed invalid.
That left 8,339 valid signatures, 106 short of the required 15 percent threshold of registered voters in the city.
Peotter has called the effort against him dishonest, adding that the seizure of petitions “just adds to the discrediting of the recallers.”
Phil Greer, the recall committee’s attorney, said Friday he doesn’t think anyone from the volunteer committee is involved in the irregularities.
“My understanding is that nobody from the volunteer committee is involved or anything of that nature,” he said.
Recall committee organizer Susan Skinner said a third-party circulator may have forged signatures.
“Apparently the warrant is sealed, but I understand that one of the paid petitioners allegedly forged signatures,” Skinner said. “This is a big, bad violation of election law and not a smart thing to do. It was not one of our volunteers.”
Forging petition signatures is a…