116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS --- The Linn County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the election petition of Linn-Mar school board candidate Geralyn Jones, who has said she allowed wives to sign their husbands’ names on her nomination papers.
Jones is one of six candidates, including two incumbents, who have filed papers to be in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan election for three seats on the Linn-Mar Community School District board. During an election objection hearing last week, Jones said when she went to houses to collect signatures so she could get on the ballot, multiple women signed for their husbands.
“When I approached the houses for signatures, all of the women … it was the same thing across the board: ‘Can I sign on behalf of my husband? And I said, ”Sure.’ It was as simple as that,” Jones said during the hearing.
According to Iowa law, nobody can falsely or fraudulently sign nomination papers on behalf of another person. Doing so could result in aggravated misdemeanor charges against a candidate and the signers.
Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said Monday that his office is in the initial stages of an investigation and does not have a timeline for its conclusion.
The sheriff’s office opened the investigation at the request of Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who is required by Iowa’s election law to report such incidents or be subject to a fine himself.
Miller told The Gazette he was notified of affidavits presented last week indicating that husbands gave their wives permission to sign the papers for Jones. Between the affidavits and Jones admitting in the hearing that other people signed the papers, Miller said he had enough information that an investigation was warranted.
“That’s a violation,” he said. “It’s pretty black and white. Don’t sign for someone else. Once I gave those documents a look and saw the husbands signed the documents, I thought they basically incriminated themselves. This person is now going to be on the ballot, and if those signatures in question had been struck, she wouldn’t have had enough signatures to qualify.”
Though Jones admitted to allowing people to sign for other people on her nomination papers, the board overruled the challenge brought by Linn County Democrat Chair Bret Nilles.
Nilles said he is concerned that accepting the nomination papers will set a bad precedent. “There is no lesson learned here as the law was not enforced and would open the door for other exceptions that are not allowed,” Niles said.
In a Facebook post Monday, Jones wrote she is being “dragged through the mud.”
“Our county auditor and county chair are democrats and are actively seeking to smear and discredit a strong, conservative republican woman,” she said. “I run my campaign on honesty and integrity. I have absolutely nothing to hide. … My heart aches that my constituents are being targeted and potentially facing aggravated misdemeanor charges even though it was cleared for no ill or fraudulent intent.”
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