DETROIT (AP) — Ex-Michigan U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has sued a former top aide and an ex-intern, saying they deliberately submitted forged nominating petitions in his name to keep him from seeking re-election, the Livonia Republican's lawyer said Thursday.
McCotter lawyer David Ottenwess said he filed the suit Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court against Don Yowchuang and Dillon Breen. Yowchuang, 34, was McCotter's deputy district director, and Breen, 20, was a student intern working for the congressman.
Elections officials discovered bogus signatures on the Livonia Republican's petitions, keeping him off the 2012 primary ballot. McCotter quit Congress in July. Yowchuang pleaded no-contest to forgery charges and was sentenced Jan. 18 to probation and community service. Breen was not charged.
In a statement, Ottenwess said the two men "purposefully submitted forged petitions in order to keep McCotter off the ballot and, thereby, denying him the opportunity to appear on the August 2012 Republican Primary ballot." The lawyer said he said he would use the subpoena power in the civil proceeding to "get to the bottom of what really happened to sabotage ... McCotter."
Reached by phone Thursday night, Ottenwess said he expected the civil suit would pry loose information that has yet to emerge in the criminal investigation.
"A lot of new facts are going to come out, and we will get to the bottom of this," he said.
The Associated Press left email and voice messages Thursday night for a lawyer for Yowchuang, Timothy Dina. Yowchuang, a resident of New Hudson, has no listed phone number.
AP also left phone and Facebook messages for Breen, who lives in Livonia.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing a Wayne County judge's Jan. 18 dismissal of conspiracy charges against Yowchuang and another former McCotter aide, Paul Seewald. Seewald, pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor charges of falsely signing a nominating petition as a circulator. Another staffer, Lorianne O'Brady, pleaded no contest to falsely stating that she had collected signatures.
Ottenwess said the petition fraud denied McCotter's constituents the democratic right to choose their representative in Congress.
"The people of the 11th District will get the justice they deserve," he said.
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