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GOP senses politics in forgery case

– Republican officials are questioning whether a Democratic special prosecutor should handle the criminal charges related to the alleged forging of signatures on state ballot petitions for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

A St. Joseph County judge appointed former Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stanley Levco to oversee the case after former St. Joseph County Democratic Chairman Butch Morgan and others were charged this week with conspiracy to commit forgery and other counts.

Investigators contend in court documents that Morgan told former workers in the county voter registration office to forge voter names and signatures onto Obama and Clinton petitions to place them on the state’s 2008 presidential primary ballot.

“We’re not insinuating any impropriety right now or making any wild accusations we can’t substantiate,” Jake Teshka, the St. Joseph County GOP’s executive director, told the South Bend Tribune. “What we’re doing is simply asking some questions. We want to make sure this trial is done in a fair manner.”

County Republicans pointed out that Levco and Morgan were both delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, said he knows Levco well and vouched for his fairness.

“He’s the go-to guy when you’ve got a tough case,” Zoeller said. “I’d say he’s above reproach when it comes to credibility. I can vouch for the fact that Stan Levco is way above politics.”

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Michael Scopelitis said he appointed Levco based on his experience.

Levco, who was prosecutor in the southern Indiana county that includes Evansville from 1990 to 2010, said he had been a special prosecutor in at least 100 cases and had prosecuted other Democrats before.

“If I thought I couldn’t serve in this case, I wouldn’t have agreed to it,” Levco said.

Nevertheless, GOP officials want a Republican co-prosecutor appointed in the case to ensure “justice is the main issue and not politics,” Teshka said.

Morgan resigned in October after 16 years as county chairman after journalists found hundreds of questionable signatures on the Obama and Clinton petitions.