Denham requests investigation into recall campaign

The campaign to boot state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, from office may head to the courts.

Friends of Jeff Denham Against the Recall filed a complaint with Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office earlier this week alleging that the signature gatherers have been violating state elections code in their effort to oust the senator.

“I expect the attorney general to investigate anytime there’s any wrongdoing,” Denham said in a phone interview, “and when he finds any wrong doing to prosecute to the letter of the law.”

On his anti-recall Web site, Denham posted taped conversations between his campaign workers and the people in front of shopping centers collecting signatures, who admit that they’re from out of the area — from as far away as Michigan.

The workers, some paid $3 a signature, also mislead the residents by explaining that their signature is needed to make upgrades to Highway 99, according to the conversations.

State election code specifies that only voters within the elected official’s district may gather signatures, and the punishment for breaking the law includes fines and possible jail time.

While the attorney general reviews the complaint, California Democratic Party campaign adviser Bob Mulholland pledges that the effort will continue and hints that they are almost done collecting signatures.

“Denham is not going to have a good holiday season,” he said. “The numbers are coming in. There will be an election in 2008 to recall Jeff Denham.”

The Dump Denham campaign, spearheaded by Sacramento Democrats, needs to turn in 31,084 signatures by Feb. 13 to put the recall on a ballot.

Read the full story in the Saturday Merced Sun-Star.