Brandon Hall faces charges
Jul 21, 2015 at 12:41 PM
Brandon Hall was arraigned on the felony charges in 58th District Court on May 22.
The investigation centered on fraudulent signatures on a ballot petition for a Grand Haven attorney, Chris Houghtaling, who was running for a vacant judge seat in Ottawa County's 58th District Court last year. Houghtaling was removed from the ballot after the signatures were flagged by the attorney general’s office.
Judicial candidates had to submit a required number of signatures from registered voters in the county by May 1, 2012, to be on the primary ballot the following August. Some of Houghtaling’s ballot petition signatures were deemed invalid, and he fell below the required number of 1,000 to get his name on the ballot, election officials said.
According to an article by the MIRS News service, the circulator at the center of the ballot controversy is former Grand Haven school board member Brandon Hall.
Hall resigned from the school board in 2010 after being convicted of stealing several hundred dollars from a Grand Haven Area Public Schools fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
The MIRS News article said Hall signed his name as the circulator for nearly half of Houghtaling’s 90 petition pages, and the penmanship is similar on many of the signature pages.
“It appeared that one or more individuals signed multiple times under different names,” Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said in the article.
Houghtaling said on Tuesday that he was not aware that Hall had been charged, but he was optimistic that the courts would reach the right decision in the case and that justice would be served.
“I’m certainly disappointed in my decision to allow Brandon to work on my campaign," Houghtaling said, "or to assist in getting signatures.”
Houghtaling declined to comment further, saying he had an obligation as an attorney not to try to influence the court process.
Houghtaling said he does not rule out seeking another elected office in the future.
"I'm cooperating in the ongoing investigation," Hall said. "I have no further comment at this time."
A conference between attorneys in Hall's case scheduled for Tuesday morning was postponed at the defendant’s request so that he could find a new attorney, said Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. Once the conference is held, a preliminary examination on the charges will be scheduled, she said.
Tribune reporter Alex Doty contributed to this story.