A state appeals court affirmed Thursday a political consultant's perjury conviction related to forged signatures on a nominating petition in the 2005 race for Milton Township assessor.
Rod McCulloch of Westmont was sentenced in June 2008 to serve two years' probation and 150 hours of community service after he was found guilty months earlier of felony perjury and a misdemeanor election code violation.
Jim Gumm had hired McCulloch, a 20-year political consultant, to circulate petitions on his behalf so he could appear on election ballots as an independent candidate for Milton Township assessor. Some of the signatures later were deemed forgeries. Gumm dropped out of the race because, he said at the time, it'd be wrong to submit the bogus petitions.
McCulloch blamed the discrepancies on homeless men he hired to help pass the petitions. He maintained the signatures were gleaned in his presence while he observed from a nearby van. McCulloch let his crew take the petitions home at night, where he believes they concocted more signatures to increase their pay.
In the March 2008 trial, DuPage Circuit Judge Michael Burke acquitted McCulloch of forgery after determining the use of the crew prevented him from knowing that the signatures had been forged.
Burke did find McCulloch guilty of perjury, stating that if the crew committed the forgeries without his knowledge because he was not supervising them well, he could not also maintain that he saw the signatures being made and thus should not have signed off on their validity.
McCulloch argued there was insufficient evidence for Burke to convict him. The Second District Appellate Court, in an opinion written by Justice Donald Hudson, disagreed. Burke is now an appellate court justice, but he did not take part in the opinion.