"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
First, when I said before that the Republican National Committee had funded Sproul & Associates to the tune of $125,000, I misspoke. That number is only for voter registration efforts. Add consulting services, and the number rises to almost $625,000 (plus $58 for photocopies). My bad.
Second, there's some pretty compelling evidence that Sproul has been up to the same shenanigans in at least two other states. The following are comments from a listserv maintained by the National Initiative For Literacy, a federal government office favored, ironically enough, by First Lady Pickles Stepford. From Pennsylvania:
We had the same thing happen here in PA. Sproul and Associates hires Kelly temp services to do voter registration. At one library site where they were suppose to be only doing voter registration they were also asking people how they were going to vote. I did some research and found out that they were doing the same thing in WV (see the article below) and one temp worker claims that they were trained to ask people how they were going to vote. If the person said "Bush" they were given a voter registration form. If they said "Kerry" they were just told thank you and no form was given. When we found out we asked them to leave immediately. One explanation from Sproul and Associates was that they were doing "market surveys" at some sites. Later they claimed that it was just a problem with a few temp workers. Sproul and Associates is headed by Nathan Sproul the former head of the GOP and Christian Coalition in Arizona.
They also always said they represented America Votes. When I finally asked them to give me the contact information for America Votes they told me that "America Votes is a non-partisan voter registration drive project of Sproul & Associates. Everything originates from this office. There is a partisan organization with that same name." Clearly they know that when they say they represent America Votes they are misleading people.
Same source, this time from West Virginia:
VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE 'MISLEADING'
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Headline: VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE 'MISLEADING'
Byline: TOM SEARLS
For a mother of two teens trying to finish up college, $9 an hour as a temporary customer service representative sounded good.
"I wanted to find something that would work around my schedule and be flexible," said St. Albans resident Lisa Bragg.
After spending more than an hour with Charleston personnel agency Kelly Services last week, Bragg was hired. "They wouldn't tell us at first what this job was," the 37-year-old Bragg said Thursday.
Then she found out it was registering Republican voters at One Stop convenience stores throughout the Charleston region.
But she won't be there today, the first day she was scheduled to be on the job.
"I'm giving up a job that I need," she said. "It's the only decent job I've found."
While the job was to last six weeks, the $9 an hour was far above the minimum wage of $5.15 Bragg was offered for most other temporary employment.
Bragg feels her employers were misleading the public, even if it's not illegal. Employees were to approach One Stop customers and ask if they favor George Bush or John Kerry for president. If Bush was their answer, they were then to inquire if the person was registered to vote and offer them a voter registration card.
If the person supported Democrat Kerry, they were only to say thank you and give them a registration card only if asked.
If asked questions, employees were instructed, "Only state you are there to conduct a simple field poll to see what neighborhood support is ... a nonpartisan registration drive."
They were told to quietly listen to any person who becomes angry and to remember, "The goal is to register Republicans and to remain positive."
"Is this the way it has to be? People have to be sneaky to make $9 an hour?" Bragg said.
(Well, yeah - if you want to make $9 an hour in Dubya's America, you do have to be sneaky.)
Anyway, it seems that Oregon's Secretary of State will be holding a press conference on this subject tonight. It may be that we will find out more at that time (neatly coinciding with the debate coverage, I notice). Find a comfy seat, and pass the popcorn.