Former South Dakota candidate says at trial she was a novice

AP News
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Posted: May 22, 2015 8:01 PM
Former South Dakota candidate says at trial she was a novice

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Former U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth said Friday shortly before testimony ended in her trial that it wasn't her intention to mislead anyone when she attested to signatures on campaign documents that she didn't actually witness.

Bosworth is seeking to avoid conviction on charges of violating South Dakota election law. The jury will reconvene next week to receive instructions and hear closing arguments.

Bosworth has said she was out of the country on a medical mission while some of her nominating petitions were circulating. She has also admitted that she didn't personally gather signatures from some Hutterite colonies, despite attesting on documents that she had witnessed people signing petitions.

Lawyers for the two sides elicited testimony over the trial that has provided contrasting portraits of Bosworth to the jury.

Bosworth's defense team has cast her as a political novice who did her best to follow complicated regulations but violated South Dakota election law under the guidance of her former attorney and political consultant, Joel Arends. Bosworth testified she hadn't reviewed the requirements well enough when she affirmed she had witnessed people sign certain petitions. She called her actions "careless."

"I was doing everything possible to get it right," Bosworth said. "I felt like I did a very good job trying. Clearly I'm sitting here because we screwed up."

Bosworth's attorneys say Arends told her she could properly call herself the petitions' "circulator" because they were circulated under her direction. Bosworth said Arends advised her on the subject during a specific instance at her medical office in 2014.

She appeared calm while testifying, at times smiling.

"Were you trying to pull a fast one on anybody?" Defense attorney Bob Van Norman asked Bosworth.

"No," she replied.

Arends testified Thursday that Bosworth is more knowledgeable about the political process than she is letting on, and called it "a lie" that he had advised her she didn't need to witness signatures. Ethan Crisp, a former campaign staffer who has been in a financial dispute with Bosworth, testified that Bosworth has the reputation of being "not truthful and deceitful."

Defense attorney Dana Hanna said Crisp was "here for a little revenge."

Bosworth has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of perjury and filing false documents. A conviction could jeopardize her medical license.

She received just 6 percent of the vote in a five-way Republican primary in 2014 that was won by former Gov. Mike Rounds. Rounds went on to win the U.S. Senate seat in the general election.