Ald. Zach Brandon filed an ethics complaint with the city of Madison Wednesday, alleging that Michael Quieto forged signatures on campaign finance reports while he was working in the city clerk's office.
Quieto was hired as a temporary worker by the city clerk's office during the spring election. He also works for the Teaching Assistants' Association's political action committee. Brandon contends that Quieto falsified signatures on the group's campaign finance reports filed in March.
Brandon compared the signatures of "Ryan Lipscomb," the PAC's treasurer, on various campaign reports and claims they did not match. In one report, dated March 25, 2007, someone began to write "M-I-C-H," then scratched it out and signed Lipscomb's name instead.
The handwriting on the group's March report -- allegedly filed by Lipscomb -- appears to match that of a report filed last year by Quieto. In addition, the Lipscomb signature from the group's registration form, filed in July, is radically different from the Lipscomb signature on campaign reports filed in January and March.
"There's obviously a forgery," says Brandon.
Brandon has been questioning whether Quieto's job in the city clerk's office was a conflict of interest with his duties for the Teaching Assistants' PAC.
"When your job is to certify and review campaign finance reports and you're falsifying them, it's certainly a problem," says Brandon. "If you're willing to falsify signatures, what else are you willing to do?"
Quieto declined comment, saying he had not yet seen the ethics complaint. A message left for Ryan Lipscomb was not immediately returned.
The Ethics Board could consider the matter at its May meeting. Quieto could also face criminal charges for forgery. Brandon says he spoke to District Attorney Brian Blanchard last week and "Blanchard thinks there's enough evidence to merit looking at it."
Brandon is also working on legislation that would prohibit political operatives like Quieto from working in the city clerk's office or in polling places during elections. He notes that similar rules are already in place at the state and federal level.
"The basis of our society is that we have faith in the outcome of our elections," says Brandon. "That's why we have rules that prohibit even the appearance of a conflict of interest. No matter what else, we have to have the sanctity of our elections."