Former St. Joseph County Democratic Party Chairman Butch Morgan today had a chance to face his accuser.
Morgan and co-defendant Dustin Blythe are both on trial for an alleged plot to forge signatures on petitions needed to get Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Indiana’s 2008 Primary Election ballot.
Today, the whistle blower who came forward with the allegations was questioned extensively about his motives for doing so.
The defense was quick to contend that Lucas Burkett narrowly escaped legal problems of his own in August of 2008.
That’s when Burkett was working for St. Joseph County Voter Registration and was given an ultimatum by Morgan: Resign or face prosecution for ghost employment.
On the witness stand today, Lucas admitted that he deserved to be fired because he was a “bad worker” who was “nervous, afraid, and goofed off on the computer.”
Burkett also testified that he followed the orders of Butch Morgan when he forged signatures on petitions in support of Barack Obama.
However, Burkett could not find any examples of his specific forgeries in the petitions that were ultimately submitted and certified.
Defense attorneys also questioned why Lucas Burkett waited two and a half years to go public with his forgery allegations.
Burkett said he eventually became “afraid that Butch Morgan was going to do something” to him. Burkett first mentioned the situation to a friend at a wedding in May of 2011.
Burkett’s relationship with Morgan further deteriorated nin 2011 when the two backed competing South Bend Common Council Candidates, and Burkett’s candidate (Andrew Jones) lost.
By November of that year Burkett first talked to Indiana State Police, although he first took his allegations to the press—not police.
Burkett cited a politically charged climate in reasoning that the press was more likely to do something about the situation.
The day began with the prosecution saying Morgan thought he was above the law, and when someone called him on the illegality of the situation, Morgan told them “don’t worry about it.”
The defense suggested that Lucas Burkett was too good as a witness. Burkett proudly reported that he was a part of two Adams High School Mock Trial teams. Burkett served as a witness in helping the team to bring home two national championships.
Burkett also admitted today that he did not personally see co-defendant Dustin Blythe forge any signatures, although Burkett was sure Blythe did attend at least one gathered where forgery was going on.