COEUR d'ALENE - A Latah County deputy prosecutor has determined there was nothing criminal about an allegedly forged proxy ballot cast during a vote held in February by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.
The 31-30 roll call vote of elected precinct committeemen favored rescinding an invitation to Richard Mack to speak at the county GOP's March 24 Lincoln Day Dinner.
A proxy ballot bearing the name of Kelly Chadderdon was examined in early March by a private investigator at the request of party officials, including Central Committee chair Tina Jacobson. The private investigator determined the signature was not Kelly Chadderdon's and the matter was turned over to police.
Kelly Chadderdon's proxy vote to rescind the Mack invitation was given to Julie Chadderdon. Duane Rasmussen carried the proxy ballot into the meeting, but had no knowledge of the handling of the signature.
"The evidence in this case does not prove Ms. Chadderdon had the necessary criminal intent to defraud another when she signed Kelly Chadderdon's name to the proxy," wrote Mia Vowels, Latah County Deputy Prosecutor. "Kelly Chadderdon stated he gave Julie an open ended proxy and although he did not sign his name or give her permission to sign his name to this particular proxy, he said he would have signed it had she asked him to. The outcome of the vote, therefore, would have turned out the same. Kelly also said that he is OK with Julie voting in his stead."
Vowels wrote that while Julie Chadderdon should have handled the proxy differently, her actions do not justify criminal charges.
Julie Chadderdon was not available for comment.
Prior to completion of the police investigation of the allegedly forged proxy ballot, GOP committee leaders overturned the vote to rescind Mack's invitation and Mack subsequently spoke at the Lincoln Day Dinner.
Rasmussen told The Press in March that he carried several proxy ballots into the meeting. They were given to him by someone he trusts, he said, so he did not examine them or question their validity.
"I'm pretty upset about this," Rasmussen said Tuesday. He said he's troubled that party leaders attempted to have this prosecuted "without thoroughly investigating it, without looking at Robert's Rules of Order and the committee's bylaws."
Rasmussen said he thinks Jacobson and others "have done more than any Democrats to hurt the Republican Party in Kootenai County," and said he is "appalled they would put people's reputations on the line like that."
Several Central Committee members requested the February vote after signing a letter opposing the invitation to Mack, a self-described "Constitutional conservative" and frequent speaker on the national Tea Party circuit. Mack was a sheriff in Arizona and now lives in Texas where he recently lost a GOP Primary race for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives now held by Republican Lamar Smith.
The Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office sent the case to another jurisdiction because Prosecutor Barry McHugh is a precinct committeeman and participated in the original Central Committee vote in which the proxy ballot was cast.