Election case twist

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:59 PM

Both men say their association with the other was a mistake.

Chris Houghtaling, an attorney and president of the Grand Haven school board, said he is continuing to cooperate with authorities as the case against his former associate, Brandon Hall, moves through the court system.

Hall, 23, is charged with 10 counts of election law forgery for putting names on petitions needed to qualify Houghtaling to run for a District Court judge seat last year.

Hall said Houghtaling knew what was happening, and even encouraged it.

Houghtaling said he didn’t know until after the fact that Hall was forging signatures on the judicial candidate petitions.

A stipulation of facts — an agreement made between opposing parties prior to a pending hearing or trial — has been reached by the state Attorney General’s Office and by Hall’s attorney, Donald Hann. The stipulation states that on May 1, 2012, Hall was writing names on the petitions as Houghtaling drove him to Lansing to submit the forms.

Houghtaling said he was “absolutely not” aware of what Hall was doing.

“He was sitting in the back seat of my car,” Houghtaling said.

Hall said he and a friend sat in the back seat on the ride to Lansing so they could work together on the petitions. It came down to the last minute because Houghtaling never made it clear how many signatures were needed to get on the ballot, Hall said.

“I think when all the facts and evidence come to light, it will be crystal clear what was going on in the back seat,” Hall said.

Hall claims that when he informed Houghtaling of the situation, the attorney gave him the impression that he didn’t care how the signatures were accomplished.

Houghtaling said Hall is lying.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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