"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Arrest Nathan Sproul! 

Last month I mentioned the amusing (if mildly disturbing) story of a librarian in Jackson County, Oregon, who uncovered what, at the time, appeared to be a fairly minor example of Republican criminal behavior:
In September, the Jackson County Library Services Central Library received a letter from Sproul & Associates, Inc. which began:

"Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national non-partisan voter registration drive, America Votes! in several states across the nation."

The letter went on to ask if the company could register people to vote in front of the library.

Meghan O’Flaherty, headquarters library manager, contacted Kevin Looper[, Oregon state organizing director for the actual America Votes], who informed her America Votes did not hire the firm.

That’s when she learned that Sproul & Associates, Inc. is a political consulting firm headed up by former Arizona state Republican Party executive director Nathan Sproul.

Tricky, but not actually harmful, it seemed. The library denied Sproul's request to register voters because library policy prohibits partisan groups from using library property, but there was no indication of any serious wrongdoing afoot (aside from the fraudulent use of America Votes' name).

Well, maybe.

We now learn that Sproul and Associates has been at it again, this time in Nevada, but with a new twist - this time, they were caught while actively engaged in illegal vote manipulation. From KLAS-TV in Las Vegas (emphasis supplied):
Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company [sic] claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building [for example, a library? -Ed.] may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The article goes on to note that the company had apparently moved its operation to Oregon.

Bear in mind that this is a serious crime, and one which has the potential to affect Democratic voters in key battleground states. Also, remember that Nathan Sproul is not some overzealous low-level functionary - he is the executive director of the Republican party in Arizona. He should be investigated by federal agents immediately, and placed into custody if it can be established that he was personally involved in this fraud (which certainly appears at this time to be the case).

Furthermore, it is essential that a thorough investigation be undertaken to determine precisely which communities have been victimized by this scam - is it limited to Oregon and Nevada, or does it extend to other states, such as Sproul's home state of Arizona? - and that voters in those communities be given a fair opportunity to re-register.

Democracy is not a game to be manipulated by cheats and charlatans. The people who violate court orders in Florida, who intimidate black voters in Missouri or Hispanic voters in California, and who now defraud voters in Oregon and Nevada - Republicans all, I'm sorry to say - must be held accountable for their crimes. Let's start with Nathan Sproul, and go from there.

Update: Oooh, it just gets scummier and scummier. Reading to the end of the KLAS-TV story linked above (something which I failed to do before I posted), I learn that Sproul's Voters Outreach project is "largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee," and that fraud has been alleged in Reno as well. The county registrar there has asked the FBI to investigate. Furthermore, over at Daily Kos, diarist Bob Johnson has done some remarkable investigative work on this story and uncovered possible Sproul operations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine and Missouri.

Folks, the Republican thugs are going to steal another one right out from under our noses unless we bring the hammer down now. We simply cannot let them hijack our democracy. Write letters to the editor, talk to your co-workers at the water cooler, call your representatives in Congress - do whatever it takes, but don't let the swine steal our election!

Update 2: This site documents $125,000 in payments from the Republican National Committee to Sproul & Associates for voter registration. The stink goes all the way to the top here, kids. And that's not just me talking - add bad driver/parolee/former Republican governor of South Dakota Bill Janklow to the list of those who are outraged:
The former governor and congressman says the national GOP is encouraging campaign workers to cheat. He says his ire is directed at the Republican Party's Victory operation, which helps register people and get them to the polls.

Janklow says his problem with the organization goes back to 2002 when he was a candidate for the US House.

Make them pay!!!




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