Lawmaker Accused of Forging Voters’ Names Resigns From Turning Point Action

Lawmaker Accused of Forging Voters’ Names Resigns From Turning Point Action

A senior director for the pro-Trump group Turning Point Action resigned from his post on Thursday and abruptly withdrew his re-election bid in Arizona, three days after being accused in a court complaint of forging voters’ signatures.

It was dramatic turnabout for Austin Smith, a House member in his first term representing parts of northwestern Maricopa County. He has been a vocal election skeptic in Arizona, a battleground state.

On Monday, Mr. Smith was named in a complaint filed in state Superior Court by one of his constituents, who said that dozens of signatures on Mr. Smith’s petitions to qualify for the July 30 Republican primary ballot had resembled Mr. Smith’s own handwriting.

Mr. Smith, 28, who has repeatedly attempted to sow doubt about the results of the 2020 election in Arizona, denied any wrongdoing in a post on social media on Thursday, but said he could not afford the financial burden of defending himself in protracted litigation. He said Democrats had engineered the complaint against him.

“If they could convince a judge that any one signature was forged, all of my signatures would be invalidated and I would get kicked off the ballot,” he wrote on X. “And as per Arizona law I would also be banned from seeking office for five years.”

He added: “To protect my family today, I’ll withdraw as a candidate.”

Mr. Smith’s campaign website prominently features a section on election integrity and photos of him with former President Donald Trump and Kari Lake, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who has refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election and her 2022 defeat in the governor’s race.

In a social media post last May, Mr. Smith impugned the process for checking voters’ signatures.

“Signature verification in Maricopa County is a joke,” he said at the time.

Mr. Smith did not immediately respond to requests on Friday for further comment.

His resignation from Turning Point Action, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was confirmed by a spokesman for the group on Friday. The organization is a political arm of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump grass-roots group focusing on millennial conservatives that was founded by Charlie Kirk.

The Arizona secretary of state’s office said on Friday that it had referred the complaint, along with 12 other cases, to the Arizona attorney general’s office for review. Both positions are held by Democrats.

“The determination of fraud or forgery and potential charges is currently in the hands of the attorney general and those prosecutors,” Adrian Fontes, the secretary of state, said in a statement.

A spokesman for Kris Mayes, the state’s attorney general, said on Friday that the office could not comment about a potential criminal investigation.

Clint L. Hickman, a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a Republican, who has faced threats for refusing to help Mr. Trump overturn his loss in Arizona during the 2020 election, said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Smith should leave office.

“I’m not one to hold back or mince words so I will say what is as clear as day: House Representative Austin Smith should resign immediately,” he said. “This is a man who has lied to the people of Legislative District 29 and the entire state about our election operations for at least three years. And now he is accused of lying about the signatures he personally collected to get on the ballot again.”

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