A major element of the Republican National Committee’s overall attempt to game the 2012 elections by trying to affect who gets to vote and who does not, has just been stopped dead in its tracks.
Along with it, a criminal election fraud complaint has now reportedly been filed with law enforcement in the state of Florida against a Republican firm, owned by a paid Mitt Romney consultant, which was hired by the GOP to carry out partisan voter registration operations in at least five battleground states.
Millions of dollars were spent on the aborted effort by the GOP over the last two months —- their largest single expenditure in several of the states where the scheme was in full tilt —- to seek out Romney supporters only, and sign them up to vote.
The strategy resulted in (or included) fraudulent registration forms collected by the firm and then submitted in Florida by the state GOP with voter addresses, signatures and party affiliations changed. Election officials in the state have told The BRAD BLOG that they fear the scheme could result in the disenfranchisement of a still-unknown number of otherwise legal voters, and they are taking extraordinary measures to try and contain the potential damage.
The fraudulent voter registration forms have so far been discovered in “at least 11” FL counties at this hour, all submitted by the state Republican Party and collected by the RNC’s top voter registration firm, a shell company formed in June called Strategic Allied Consulting, as owned by a notorious GOP operative named Nathan Sproul.
Another matter we’ve been looking at, is the claim that this scandal is contained to only five battleground states —- Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado —- where Strategic Allied Consulting is known to have been operating before being fired. There is evidence, however, that they and/or other Sproul companies, may still be operating in other states, such as California and Oregon, and that the specific type of rather offensive registration work they were doing —- lying to potential registrants and only offering Romney supporters the opportunity to register to vote —- is not necessarily their own strategy, but that of the entire Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign.
In any event, AP is now reporting that the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), —- whose largest expenditure this election cycle, $1.3 million, was on Strategic Allied Consulting —- filed an election fraud complaint against the company on Friday. It’s now in the hands of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Of course, that’s the same law enforcement outfit who chose not to prosecute one-time Republican superstar Ann Coulter for voter fraud and voter registration fraud, despite the open and shut case against her, reflected by hard documentation showing that she purposely lied on her voter registration form, on her FL drivers license, as well as knowingly voting at the wrong precinct back in 2005 —- in Palm Beach County, coincidentally enough. Her crimes amounted to two 3rd degree felonies and one 1st degree misdemeanor in all, according to the report from the Town of Palm Beach Police Department obtained by The BRAD BLOG back in 2007. The PBPD said, at the time, they did not have jurisdiction in the matter, and it moved up the food chain for years to state authorities and others. Thanks, in no small part to her Republican friends in FL, and a very close friend at the FBI, Coulter was able to run out the statute of limitations clock, and was never held accountable for her election crimes in FL.
Joseph Tanfani, Matea Gold and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times, who have been doing some excellent reporting on this matter, reported on Saturday that “potentially fraudulent voter registration forms submitted on behalf of the state GOP” have now been uncovered “in at least 11 Florida counties.”
“I don’t think we’ve ever had this number of counties that have had this number of cases all at the same time,” Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections tells the paper.
She says that, in addition to those initially found in Palm Beach County, “problematic voter registration forms turned in by the GOP,” as the LA Times describes them, have been discovered by election officials in Lee, Bay, Clay, Santa Rosa, Escambia and Okaloosa counties.
Chris Cate, who serves as spokesman for both the State Election Division as well as the Sec. of State (the Director of the State Election Division left office just before the August primaries, for reasons unknown, and so the Sec. of State’s office has been designated as point person for issues that would normally go to the Election Division while the top spot there remains remains unfilled, just over one month before a Presidential Election) says that more “possibly fraudulent forms have also been reported in Charlotte, Walton, Miami-Dade and Duval counties.”
That’s 11 counties in Florida in all, to date. The number has been growing daily since Tuesday.
The problem has left county Supervisors of Elections scrambling in Florida to repair their voter files before the election, and in advance of October 9, when all changes to the voter database are supposed to be locked down by law.
One Florida election official tells The BRAD BLOG that the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections is scrambling to organize a conference call to try and establish “a uniform, statewide plan to repair our voter file before the election.”
AP reports that “The Florida Democratic Party called on the state to “revoke” the ability of state Republicans to continue to register voters while the investigation continues.”
“It is clear that the Republican Party of Florida does not have the institutional controls in place to be trusted as a third-party, voter registration organization,” Scott Arceneaux, Executive Director of the state Democratic Party said.
Though the Strategic county supervisors have logs detailing which applications each of their registration workers turned in, they have yet to turn over that database to county officials, Bucher tells us, making the chore even more difficult at an already hectic time at election offices just one month before the Presidential Election.
But Florida is not the only state where Strategic was contracted to work, and where reports of troubling registrations have begun to emerge.
The LA Times reports…In Colorado, an attorney for the firm alerted the secretary of state’s office last week that an employee had torn up a completed voter registration form; the elections office sent that report to state prosecutors for investigation.
In Nevada, the secretary of state’s office is investigating a complaint from Gina Greisen, a Democrat and animal rights activist. Earlier this month, she said, she witnessed a man tear up a woman’s voter registration form that identified her as a Democrat and instruct her to fill out a new form without any party affiliation. Greisen said an employee from the Clark County Department of Elections determined that torn form (which Greisen retrieved from the trash) was registered to Strategic Allied Consulting.
Destroying Democratic registration forms is just one of many things that Sproul’s companies, such as Sproul & Associates and Lincoln Strategy Group and now Strategic Allied Consulting, have been accused of in the past, in election after election, in state after state. (We summarized many of the specific allegations against Sproul’s company going back some ten years in our initial report on the scandal last week.)
It should be noted that while Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VA) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) requested that George W. Bush’s then U.S. Attorney General “launch an immediate investigation into the activities of Mr. Sproul and his firm” in 2004, no charges were ever brought. Instead, as Lee Fang observed at The Nation, the Bush Administration (who had spent millions hiring Sproul for similar work in 2004) “literally welcomed Sproul and his wife into the White House for a Christmas party in 2006.”
But the most laughable part of the GOP response to all of this came from RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, who is quoted in an NBC video report on Thursday saying, with a straight face:“We, at this point, have an allegation. That mere allegation has caused us to act —- act swiftly and boldly —- and sever our ties with this firm because we have a zero tolerance [policy] when it comes to this. The other side clearly engaged for a long time in inappropriate behavior. We don’t believe that that’s appropriate. And we wanted to make a swift and bold action to illustrate that.”
Setting aside his unsupported smear that “The other side clearly engaged for a long time in inappropriate behavior”, when there is known comparison to any similar activities by the Democratic National Committee or any of its state parties to our knowledge, the most absurd part of Spicer’s declaration is the assertion that his party acted “boldly”.
On Friday, the LA Times reported Spicer’s comment about having acted “boldly.”
Yet three grafs earlier, in the very same piece, they report that “Sproul said he created Strategic Allied Consulting at the RNC’s request because the party wanted to avoid being publicly linked to the past allegations.” Very ‘bold’ of them! And very ‘zero tolerancy’ too!
In the meantime, in Virginia, Strategic Allied Consulting, was paid $500,000 this summer to register voters, according FEC disclosures reviewed by Richmond’s CBS 6. The company was registered as a corporation in Virginia in June of 2012, without Sproul’s name on the registration. But a visit by CBS 6’s Joe St. George to the Glen Allen address listed as the corporate home of the outfit resulted in the firm that is actually located at the address, telling him that “they have never heard of the group.”
Of course, there is no real comparison to ACORN. Unlike Sproul’s outfits, the non-partisan community organizing group was never hired by the Democratic Party to do voter registration work. Moreover, it was ACORN themselves who discovered fraud by a handful of its more than ten thousand workers and notified officials of the fraud and the names of those who had defrauded them.
As perhaps best described by former Republican Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, during a 2009 voter suppression hearing: “The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”
But the pathetically amusing aspect here is watching, and waiting, for the same Rightwing media who turned false allegations against ACORN into a crusade to destroy the four-decade community organization (simply because they had the temerity to legally register millions of low- and middle-income voters who had the damnable tendency to vote for Democrats), to even cover this scandal at all.
Now that the things they falsely accused ACORN of doing for so many years are actually being done, by the Republicans’ top voter registration outfit, the Rightwing media has fallen silent.
In ACORN’s case, there is no evidence that any of the fraud by any of their workers either resulted in a single fraudulent vote or in anybody ever being disenfranchised. Right now, given the addresses changed on existing voter records to places like Shell stations and Land Rover dealers, as is the case in Palm Beach County, Election Supervisor Susan Bucher told us she’s very worried that an unknown number of voters may find themselves disenfranchised when they go to vote on November 6, only to find that they are no longer registered at the precinct where they have voted for years.
Bucher told us on Friday night that she and her staff are madly working through some “37,000 plus address changes and 23,000 new and updated signatures that have occurred in Palm Beach County” since the beginning of August, to determine which ones submitted by the state GOP are legitimate and which ones might be fraudulent and result in a legal voter losing their right to have their vote counted this year.
This is real fraud, and the Republicanist media couldn’t care less.
And, once again, in this year’s election cycle, Sproul was hired by the Mitt Romney campaign who paid him nearly $80,000 late last year for work as a political consultant.
Since the scandal has emerged, the Romney camp has attempted to downplay his relationship to Sproul. NBC reports that Romney spokesperson Sarah Pompei says only: “We used this vendor for signature gathering services during the primary but have not used them since 2011.”
In fact, “this vendor” served as a surrogate for Romney in the media on at least one occasion during this year’s primary debate season.
In February of this year, AP quoted Sproul and described him as “an Arizona political consultant who is working for Romney’s campaign.”
Perhaps someone should ask the GOP nominee when, if ever, Sproul stopped working for his campaign, and why it is that his spokesperson now claims that they haven’t used “this vendor…since 2011”.
On Friday night, FOX31 in Denver “confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company.”
FOX31 goes on to quote Miller telling them that “We are not aware of any voter registration irregularities from our efforts to register voters.”
The local news outlet then wisely adds: “Of course, the state has little way of knowing if some registration forms were filled out and then discarded.”
NOTE: After posting this, I went to share the link with a couple of friends and the site is down. Keep checking back - sure it will be back up in a bit.
Update: Site is back up - this article is just getting tons of traffic. Brad says the article was getting about 5,000 hits every 15 mins.
Reblogging myself because I think this is important and I wanted to make sure the evening crowd saw it.
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