Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

McCain Campaign Paid Republican Operative Accused of Voter Fraud

Posted in voter disenfranchisement by allisonkilkenny on October 22, 2008

 Oh, the irony. Accuse ACORN of voter fraud when you, yourself, have hired a shady operative to commit voter fraud on behalf of the GOP.

Hannah Strange
From Times Online
October 22, 2008  

Eating Your Votes Since 2004

Nathan Sproul: Eating Your Votes Since 2004

John McCain paid $175,000 of campaign money to a Republican operative accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states, it has emerged.

As the McCain camp attempts to tie Barack Obama to claims of registration irregularities by the activist group ACORN, campaign finance records detailing the payment to the firm of Nathan Sproul, investigated several times for fraud, threatens to derail that argument.

The documents show that a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party, made the payment to Lincoln Strategy, of which Mr. Sproul is the managing partner, for the purposes of “voter registration.”

Mr. Sproul has been investigated on numerous occasions for preventing Democrats from voting, destroying registration forms and leading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to leach the Democratic vote.

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In October last year, the House Judiciary Committee wrote to the Attorney General requesting answers regarding a number of allegations against Mr. Sproul’s firm, then known as Sproul and Associates. It referred to evidence that ahead of the 2004 national elections, the firm trained staff only to register Republican voters and destroyed any other registration cards, citing affidavits from former staff members and investigations by television news programmes.

One former worker testified that “fooling people was key to the job” and that “canvassers were told to act as if they were non-partisan, to hide that they were working for the RNC, especially if approached by the media,” according to the committee’s letter. It also cited reports from public libraries across the country that the firm had asked to set up voter registration tables claiming it was working on behalf of the non-partisan group America Votes, though in fact no such link existed.

Such activities “clearly suppress votes and violate the law,” wrote John Conyers, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The letter suggested that the Judiciary Department had failed to take sufficient action on the allegations because of the politicization of the department under the then-attorney general, John Ashcroft.

The career of Mr. Sproul, a former leader of the Arizona Republican Party, is littered with accusations of foul play. In Minnesota in 2004, his firm was accused of sacking workers who submitted Democratic registration forms, while other canvassers were allegedly paid bonuses for registering Bush voters. There were similar charges in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oregon and Nevada.

That year, Mr. Sproul’s firm was paid $8,359,161 by the Republican Party, according to a 2005 article in the Baltimore Chronicle, which claimed that this was far more than what had been reported to the Federal Elections Commission.

Mr. McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have been linking allegations of registration fraud by ACORN, the community group, to theObama campaign.

ACORN has been accused of registering non-existent voters during its nationwide drive, with reports of cartoon characters such as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse being signed up.

The organization insisted that these are isolated incidents carried out by a handful of workers who have since been dismissed.

However, the Republican nominee insists that the group is involved in fraudulent activities, noting that Mr. Obama, before leaving the legal profession to enter politics, was once part of a team which defended the organization. At last week’s debate, he said that ACORN was “perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history”, a claim which the Obama campaign says represents political smear.

The revelation of Mr. Sproul’s involvement with the McCain campaign – he has also donated $30,000 to the ticket and received at least another $37,000 directly from the RNC – could undermine his case.

“It should certainly take away from McCain’s argument,” Bob Grossfeld, an Arizona political consultant who has watched Mr. Sproul’s career closely, told the Huffington Post. “Without knowing anything of what is going on with ACORN, there is a clear history with Mr. Sproul either going over the line or sure as hell kicking dirt on it, and doing it for profit and usually fairly substantive profit.”

In May this year, both ACORN and Mr. Sproul were discussed at a hearing of the House subcommittee on commercial and administrative law. One Republican member, Congressman Chris Cannon, concluded: “The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

McCain Employing GOP Operative Accused Of Voter Registration Fraud

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 21, 2008

John McCain’s campaign has directed $175,000 to the firm of a Republican operative accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states.

Eating Your Votes Since 2004

Nathan Sproul: Eating Your Votes Since 2004

According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of “registering voters.” The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket.

In a letter to the Justice Department last October, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said that that Sproul’s alleged activities “clearly suppress votes and violate the law.”

That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign — the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle — is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain’s campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing.

But his involvement with the Republican Party’s voter registration efforts has the potential to create a political and public relations headache at a time when McCain can ill-afford one. For weeks the Arizona Republican and his allies have been seeking to tie Barack Obama to the community organization ACORN, which they have accused of potentially committing massive voter registration fraud. Sproul’s contract with the GOP ticket — in addition to news of Republican officials attempting to suppress Democratic turnout in California — raises, for some, questions about McCain’s own efforts.

“It should certainly take away from McCain’s argument,” said Bob Grossfeld, a progressive political consultant based in Arizona who has followed Sproul’s career. “Without knowing anything of what is going on with ACORN, there is a clear history with Mr. Sproul either going over the line or sure as hell kicking dirt on it, and doing it for profit and usually fairly substantive profit.”

As Republican Congressman Chris Cannon summarized during a joint hearing for the subcommittee on commercial and administrative law back in May 2008: “The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

Indeed, Sproul’s history is filled with allegations of political misdeeds. During the 2004 election, Sproul & Associates (the former name of Lincoln Strategy) was accused of attempting to destroy forms collected by Democratic voters in Nevada. That same year in Oregon, Sproul & Associates allegedly instructed canvassers to only accept Republican registration forms in addition to destroying those turned in by Democrats.

In Minnesota, meanwhile, Sproul’s firm was accused of actually firing workers who brought back Democratic registration forms, while other canvassers were allegedly paid “$13 an hour, with the $3 bonus for every Bush, undecided or Ralph Nader voter registration.” Similar problems related to Sproul & Associates popped up in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

All of this was executed, it seems, through an elaborate web of deception. As Salon.com wrote back in 2004:

Canvassers were told to act as if they were nonpartisan, to hide that they were working for the RNC, especially if approached by the media… In letters the firm sent to the libraries, Sproul misrepresented itself as America Votes — a left-leaning national voter registration group not affiliated with Sproul — but said that it was interested in registering “all those who wish to register to vote.” Shortly after Sproul canvassers began working the libraries, though, patrons began complaining that the canvassers were being especially inquisitive about their political leanings, and some were pushing people to register as Republicans.

Sproul has denied those charges, claiming often that his registration efforts were bipartisan and that any suggestion otherwise was nothing more than the testimony of disgruntled former employees. He did not return a request for comment for this article.

But there has been a wide array of public complaint over the scope and nefariousness of his activities. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004 asking that the Justice Department “launch an immediate investigation into the activities of Mr. Sproul and his firm.” Three years later, members of Congress still weren’t satisfied. Rep. Conyers complained in an Oct. 2007 letter that the Justice Department was not closely scrutinizing Sproul’s efforts. “The alleged misconduct described by many witnesses,” he wrote, “clearly suppress[es] votes and violate[s] the law.”

Indeed, those who have followed Sproul’s rise in Republican circles argue that the pattern of behavior is too hard to dismiss as anything other than ethically-blurry, brass knuckle tactics.

“The biggest single thing is that he is a true believer,” said Grossfeld. “He might take this as a compliment, but he is as committed to the worldview and the neocon approach to life as any operative I have ever run across. He is absolutely devoted to whatever that ideology is and as a byproduct of that he will look for every opportunity he can, I believe to further his or his client’s agenda.”