It’s time to Break It Down!
Occasionally, one has the sense of being in the right place at the right time, or having said or done the right thing at the most propitious of moments. Perhaps kismet is the personificationor actualization of this sense. In retrospect, last week’s post is tinged with irony, and filled with kismet.
Now I understand full well, the Presidential Debates begin tonight with the first of three debates, plus a tilt between the Vice Presidential candidates. This evening’s event, focused on Domestic Policy, will convene at the University of Denver, located in Denver, Colorado. Air time is 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The coverage and the fully amplified aftermath (who won, who lost, etc.) will dominate the airways, at least for political news, for a day. Friday will bring a fresh new topic; the release of the September Jobs Report. In related news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised job growth numbers for the year upward by more than 450,000 jobs. The number is still not enough, though it does provide good news for the Obama Administration. POTUS has now seen more jobs added than have been lost, during his term in office. But that is then; this is now.
Right now, my focus is on extending the conversation started in the previous blog post. Last Wednesday, in a thorough fashion, Break It Down explored the notion, posited most aggressively by theGOP, that voter fraud is a serious and widespread problem. Moreover, if you listen to the relentless drum beat on the Right, what you hear is that the insidious behavior is the singular purview of the poor, minorities, and that olio of humanity we have come to know, in the last 30days, as the 47%. Hence, the brilliant and timely Republican rescue plan; a series of new voter fraud laws, aimed mainly, and ever so coincidentally, at political swingstates with GOP state legislatures.
Briefly, the predominance of data shows, as noted in last week’s post, it is a solution in search of a problem. At least, it was! Word has emerged from Florida that a consulting firm DBA(Doing Business As), Strategic AlliedConsulting, tasked by the RepublicanNational Committee (RNC) and the Florida GOP with leading voter registration activities in the state, has been terminated after having been accused of…drum roll please…fraudulentvoter registration activities (which while different from voter fraud, is as close as we’ve come). Remember, actual voter fraud is quite rare. Voter registration fraud, not so much; low wage workers are given taxing quotas, and frequently resort to questionable tactics. They then, after a short time, usually before getting caught, move on to other jobs.
Strategic Allied Consultingwas formed and headed by Republican consultant,Nathan Sproul. Mr. Sproul took on the assignment of conducting voter registration and turnout activities in several key contested states, including, voterregistration in:
3. North Carolina
And Get-Out-The-Vote activities in:
Sproul and the Republican National Committee (RNC) wanted to preempt push back stemming from similar controversy experienced by theLincoln Strategy Group, another of his companies. He told the Tampa Bay Times he formed Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the RNC, for publicity’s sake. Previous negative media coverage had accrued to Lincoln stemming from past allegations going back to 2004, when employees in Nevadaand Oregon signed up Democrats but threw out their forms instead of turning them in.
In 2004, employees of Lincoln were accused of an assortment of infractions, including:
- Destroying voter registration forms of Democrats
- Duping college students into registering as Republicans
- Refusing to register Democrats or independents
At that time, several states, Nevada,Oregon, and Arizona, opened investigations. In all fairness, it should be noted all three states closed their inquiries without filing charges.
Mr. Sproul has also been linked tosignature fraud this election cycle in his home state of Arizona where he was working on a ballot initiativethat would allow the state to nullifyany federal laws it finds to be unconstitutional. The man gets around.
As it relates to the recent events, the RNC hired Sproul and his firm during the summer. Strategic Allied Consulting was the only vendor hired by the National Republican Party to conduct voter registration and turnoutactivities in seven battleground states. They were paid $3 million by the RNC for this exclusive privilege.That does not include the $1.3million paid by the state of Florida, or additional amounts by other states.
Florida remains famous, or infamous if you prefer, because of the notorious hanging chadsequence which transformed the 2000 Presidential Election into the stuff of movie-making legend. But Floridais not the only player in this drama. In addition to the Sunshine State, the RNC and state committees in North Carolina,Colorado, and Virginia, all fired the firm last week. In addition, the Republican Party of Floridafiled an election fraud complaint that is now part of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
In Colorado, the Republican Party terminated its contract with Strategic Allied Consulting after a young woman was shown 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. The woman, a contract employee of Sproul’s company, could be heard saying:
“I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party, because we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.” The video has been viewed more than417,000 times. The Colorado stateGOP has spent $466,643 — roughly half its total budget — with Strategic Allied Consulting.
In North Carolina, officials with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections say they’re sending five voter registration forms to state election officials after concerns the documents could be fraudulent.
Those five forms were submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting. The firm was paid by Republicans to register new voters in battleground states.
Perhaps the single most revealing indicator of how ensconced Sproul and his firm are in GOP political circles is that he has ties to Willard Romney and his campaign. FederalElection Commission (FEC) reports show that Sproul’s other company, Lincoln Strategy Group, was paid more than $80,000 by the Romney campaign to help register voters between November 2011 and March 2012. This period was part of the GOP Primaryseason.
All in all, I still do not expect voter fraud to play a huge role in Election 2012. However, to the extent it does, if current events prove relevant, we should all beware of the potential for a healthy dose of GOP legerdemain.
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For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below: