The office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is investigating the petition signatures turned in by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as part of the Republican's failed attempt to qualify for the Virginia presidential primary ballot.
Gingrich alleged that there were mistakes and fraud when one of his supporters turned over signatures that the Republican Party of Virginia deemed invalid. Neither Gingrich nor Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- who has since dropped out of the race -- reached the 10,000-signature threshold required to make it on the ballot.
Among the 10,000 signatures needed, at least 400 signatures had to come from each of the commonwealth's 11 congressional districts.
"We can confirm that there is an investigation underway, but other than that, we cannot comment about an ongoing investigation," wrote Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein in an e-mail on Tuesday.
Cuccinelli, a Republican, originally sided with the GOP candidates who did not qualify for the Virginia ballot but then changed his position as pressure mounted from within his own party for the attorney general to defend to the laws of the commonwealth.
The story of the investigation broke in the liberal blogosphere on Tuesday morning and was confirmed by Gottstein.
Only Rep. Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney qualified for the March 6 ballot in Virginia. There is no write-in option in Virginia on primary election ballots.
Judges twice rejected Perry, who was supported by Gingrich, in federal courts. Absentee ballots have already been mailed out from the commonwealth in order to comply with federal election law.
Perhaps the ultimate irony of the situation is that, of the remaining four major candidates for the GOP, the two who are not qualified for the ballot have the strongest ties to Virginia. Gingrich lives in the affluent northern Virginia community of McLean. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was born in Winchester.