INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — County Commission candidate Charlie Wilson said Wednesday that he plans to address the recent arrest of his son and his son’s girlfriend for petition fraud in connection to an investigation into forged signatures of elections petitions used to help Wilson qualify for the commission race.
Wilson, who had previously scheduled a press conference for this afternoon said he would comment on the recent arrests at that time.
Christopher Tracy Wilson, 23, was arrested Wednesday morning on warrants for felony petition fraud and forgery, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s spokeswoman Kristin Chernosky. His girlfriend, 23-year-old Valerie Salvati was arrested on the same warrants at the county jail on Tuesday.
FDLE spokeswoman Chernosky could not immediately comment on the arrests of Christopher Wilson and Valerie Salvati or say if any other arrests or charges could be forthcoming.
On April 1, Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem filed an elections complaint to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, calling into question several hundred petitions that appeared to have forged signatures.
In the weeks since, candidate Wilson has denied having any personal involvement in forging the signatures or having knowledge of someone else forging them prior to submitting the petitions to Clem’s office.
In March, Wilson’s campaign volunteers began collecting petitions so that he could qualify as a candidate for the County Commission District 2 seat. Among those volunteers were his son, Christopher, and his son’s girlfriend, Salvati.
Candidate Wilson turned in 700 petitions at the time, but was notified by Clem that 300 of them had signatures that did not match voting rolls.
Though he first called the petition fraud allegation a political vendetta, by May Wilson told VeroNews.com and Vero Beach 32963 that he began looking into how the petitions were gathered – and began suspecting members of his own family.
While he had no explanation for how the discrepancies might have occurred, he said at the time that procedures had since changed in the Wilson campaign office with regard to petitions.
Despite the questionable petitions, the Wilson campaign has submitted the required number of verified petitions to get on the ballot. He is expected to run against incumbent Joe Flescher and former Sebastian City Councilwoman Dale Simchick in the August Republican Primary.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.