The conservative provocateur allegedly posed as a mustachioed “civics professor.”
James O’Keefe, the conservative provocateur, has been on the prowl in Colorado, the setting of a close Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, as well as a nip-and-tuck governor’s contest. Last week, O’Keefe and two of his collaborators tried to bait Democratic field staffers into approving voter fraud involving Colorado’s universal vote-by-mail program, according to three Democratic staffers who interacted with O’Keefe or his colleagues.
More stories from the MoJo archive on James O’Keefe:
Democratic staffers in Colorado recently came to believe they were the subject of an O’Keefe operation after campaign workers became suspicious about would-be volunteers who had asked about filling out and submitting mail-in ballots for others. Recently, the 30-year-old O’Keefe has targeted the Senate campaigns of Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by filming undercover videos of staffers or the candidate.
Last Tuesday, a man who appeared to be in his 20s showed up at a Democratic field office in Boulder wanting to volunteer to help elect Udall and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), according to a Democratic staffer who met with him and asked not to be identified. The man introduced himself as “Nick Davis,” and he said he was a University of Colorado-Boulder student and LGBT activist involved with a student group called Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis mentioned polls showing the race between Udall and Gardner was tight, and he asked the staffer if he should fill out and mail in ballots for other college students who had moved away but still received mail on campus. The Democratic staffer says he told Davis that doing this would be voter fraud and that he should not do it.
On Friday, Udall campaigned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus. After the event, a woman calling herself “Bonnie” approached a different staffer and, according to this staffer’s boss, asked whether she could fill out and submit blank ballots found in a garbage can. The staffer, according to her boss, said that she told her no.
That same day, the guy identifying himself as “Nick Davis” returned to the Democratic office in Boulder. He was accompanied by a man wearing heavy makeup and a mustache, according to the Democratic staffer who had met Davis three days earlier. Davis introduced his friend as a “civics professor” at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the faculty adviser to Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis and the professor, who said his name was “John Miller,” picked up Udall campaign literature and canvassing information.
On Monday, O’Keefe tweeted a photo of himself with a mustache and said he’d recently posed as a “45yo” for one of his “election investigations.”
Only time for 2-3 more election investigations. I went in Disguised as 45yo, this time people may lose their jobs pic.twitter.com/ihuTjpierm— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII)October 20, 2014
The repeated questions about submitting other people’s ballots led Democratic staffers to suspect they were being targeted. Later, the staffers viewed photos of O’Keefe—including one taken in Colorado showing O’Keefe sans mustache and sporting a Udall campaign sticker and a Women for Udall button—and they concluded that O’Keefe and the college professor were the same person. They also said the image O’Keefe tweeted of himself with a mustache matched the man who visited the Boulder office on Friday.
O’Keefe and two male colleagues also targeted a progressive nonprofit named New Era Colorado, according to New Era executive director Steve Fenberg. On Saturday, Fenberg says, O’Keefe and his friends contacted New Era’s Fort Collins office to set up an in-person meeting and identified themselves as activists affiliated with Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. The three men arrived carrying Udall campaign literature, Fenberg notes, but a New Era organizer met them outside the office’s front door and refused to let them enter with the Udall materials. Outside groups such as New Era cannot coordinate with political campaigns, and Fenberg says he believes O’Keefe and his collaborators “were trying to establish evidence we were working together.”James O’Keefe and one of his collaborators
When New Era’s staffers began taking pictures of O’Keefe (including the photo embedded at left), Fenberg says, O’Keefe and a colleague went to their car and returned with a large video camera and a microphone. “If you want to take photos of us, we’ll take photos of you,” O’Keefe said, according to Fenberg, and the New Era staffers closed the door while O’Keefe and his friend tried to push it open and stick their microphone inside. Fenberg says New Era filed a police report about the incident.
Rocky Mountain Vote Pride doesn’t seem to have much of a footprint. There is a website andFacebook page for the organization, both created in July, but they provide no information about who’s behind the group. Searches for Rocky Mountain Vote Pride in the University of Colorado-Boulder student newspaper, the Denver Post, and the Boulder Daily Camera turned up no results. A search of Nexis archives for the past two years yielded zero mentions.
Chris Harris, the communications director for the Udall campaign, accused O’Keefe of “using sleazy, deceptive tactics to undermine the public’s trust in democracy.”
O’Keefe is best known for his undercover videos attacking the community organizing group ACORN. Those videos, hyped by Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, led the GOP-led House of Representatives to hold more than a dozen votes to defund ACORN, and the group disbanded soon after. In 2010, the FBI arrested O’Keefe and three others for phone tampering at a New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and three years of probation and fined $1,500.
This fall, O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, launched a political offshoot with its sights set on high-profile campaigns and organizations. Project Veritas went undercover to try to get campaign staffers for Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes to contradict the candidate’s pro-coal message. In Arkansas, O’Keefe’s group secretly filmed Sen. Mark Pryor speaking to a local LGBT group in an attempt to expose him as privately supporting marriage equality, which he has publicly opposed. Project Veritas also sought to bait workers for Battleground Texas, the group formed by Obama campaign alums to register and organize Democratic voters, into taking improper actions, but a Texas special prosecutor dismissed the group’s video as “little more than a canard and political disinformation.”
Neither New Era nor the Udall campaign was aware of any other contacts by staff with O’Keefe or his colleagues, and it was not clear whether other organizations in Colorado might have been contacted. Stephen Gordon, a spokesman for Project Veritas, declined to comment. “We’re not making any comment on potential operations in Colorado at this moment,” he said. “But watch for our upcoming videos.”
Source: Andy Kroll for Mother Jones
#WI04 GOP Congressional Candidate: Supreme Court Is Conspiring To Prevent Scott Walker From Becoming President
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Republican Dan Sebring, who is running to represent Wisconsin’s 4th District in the House of Representatives, told ThinkProgress he suspects a political motive behind the Supreme Court’s recent ruling putting the state’s voter ID law on hold.
“The United States Supreme Court said we can’t implement it for this election,” he said at a Milwaukee County Republicans party this week. “My personal feeling is that this is a play to steer the outcome of the gubernatorial election so that Scott Walker wouldn’t have a chance of getting on the ticket in 2016 for the White House. I think that’s what they’re trying to do.”
Last week, the Supreme Court halted the state’s voter ID law without providing a clear explanation for its decision. However, a short dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the majority was relying on a 2006 decision which found that altering election law close to an election could “result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.” Federal trial judge Lynn Adelman struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law in April before a federal appeals court reinstated the measure in September.
But many at the event expressed concern that Republicans would lose without a voter ID law. Conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna, who served as the evening’s emcee, even connected voter fraud to President Obama’s upcoming trip to Milwaukee.
“Mary Burke can turn out the base Democrats in a state that has same-day voter registration and does not protect the integrity of the election with voter ID,” she warned. “When Barack Obama comes to the state of Wisconsin, 20,000 people will cast their vote absentee at the rally. That’s why she’s bringing Barack Obama to Wisconsin.” In Wisconsin, however, “voters do not need a reason or excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day, to vote absentee” and filling out ballots at a rally would not be in violation of any law.
Milwaukee County Elections Commissioner Rick Baas added that the event’s attendees should all remain on the lookout for what he called a “really weird” phenomenon. “If people start to get mail at their homes around election time addressed to people who don’t live in that house, what you need to do is collect that mail and get it to me, so I can see if that person is registered to vote at your address,” he said. “Then we’ve got a case, a case Democrats say we don’t have.”
Research has shown that voter fraud is rare. A study of votes cast in Wisconsin during the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud, none of which could have been prevented by a voter ID law. Such a measure could however disproportionately disenfranchise African Americans, low income citizens and other groups who tend to vote for Democrats. In his opinion striking down the law, Judge Lynn Adelman noted that the state failed to identify a single instance of known voter impersonation in Wisconsin’s recent past. Nine percent of registered voters, about 300,000 people, also lack the ID required under the law.
True the Vote is one of the most influential groups working to make it harder to vote by pushing for restrictive voter ID laws and launching challenges against people it thinks might be ineligible to vote, tactics which are supposedly directed at preventing voter impersonation fraud and double voting — crimes that in reality are exceedingly rare.
In order to cover up the fact that voter ID laws keep many times more people from the polls than the miniscule number of voter impersonation cases that they might prevent, groups like TTV try to conflate in-person voter fraud — the only thing actually targeted by voter ID laws — with faulty voter registration and with rare but persistent kinds of small-scale voter fraud by elected officials that they have no intention of actually combating.
A great example of this happened yesterday, when TTV reprinted a short blog post by former Bush Justice Department official and conservative activist J. Christian Adams linking to a story about “Three PA Elected Officials Charged With Voter Fraud.”
Adams offers his commentary, implying that this story proves that the numerous studies discrediting the voter ID push are just wrong:
I am curious to see if this barely reported case of voter fraud ever makes it onto one of the ‘academic’ studies purporting to demonstrate very little voter fraud. Those studies are characterized by false negatives.
A quick look at the story in question, however, shows that what happened in Pennsylvania has nothing to do with voter ID or any so-called “voter integrity” laws that Adams and TTV are promoting.
Pennsylvania requires that people requesting an absentee ballot provide a reason, which can be “illness or physical disability” that makes the voter “unable to attend his/her polling place or to operate a voting machine.” Those voters must also provide a copy of their photo ID.
The case that Adams and TTV are touting is that of three township supervisors who were charged with violating election laws in 2011, two for helping 13 elderly voters to apply for and fill out absentee ballots , despite the fact that all were physically able to go to the polls on Election Day and were thus ineligible to obtain absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. One of the supervisors is charged with helping an eligible absentee voter fill out a ballot but failing to report that he had assisted the voter.
None of this would have been prevented by a voter ID requirement. Instead, this is an instance of, at best, a misunderstanding and at worst, public officials using their insider influence to tinker with ballots.
If it’s the latter, all sorts of laws are currently on the books to prevent such instances of election fraud. But it is not something that so-called “voter integrity” activists have shown any interest in addressing, perhaps because it’s already against the law and policed. As the Brennan Center wrote in a 2007 report, such conduct “has been an issue since Senators wore togas” and is a completely separate issue from the kind of supposed fraud that groups like True The Vote claim to be fixing with suppressive voting restrictions.
It is extremely rare for individuals to vote multiple times, vote as someone else, or vote despite knowing that they are ineligible. These rare occurrences, however, are often conflated with other forms of election irregularities or misconduct, under the misleading and overbroad label of “voter fraud.” Some of these other irregularities result from honest mistakes by election officials or voters, such as confusion as to whether a particular person is actually eligible to vote. Some irregularities result from technological glitches, whether sinister or benign: for example, voting machines may record inaccurate tallies. And some involve fraud or intentional misconduct perpetrated by actors other than individual voters: for example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations or procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These more common forms of misconduct are simply not addressed by the supposed “anti-fraud” measures generally proposed.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Asshole of the Day: Georgia Secretary Of State Laments That Democrats Are Registering Minority Voters [TW: Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege, Voter Intimidation]
The audio was released a day after the Senior Deputy Whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans vowed to block early voting dates and locations he felt would attract African American voters.
A day after the Senior Deputy Whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans vowed to block early voting dates and locations that he felt would attract African American voters, a progressive group released audio on Wednesday of Georgia’s Secretary of State warning fellow Republicans that Democrats might win because they are registering minority voters.
The audio, posted on YouTube by Better Georgia, features a man identified as Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp telling fellow Republicans at a July 12, 2014 event in Gwinnett County:
In closing I just wanted to tell you real quick, after we get through this runoff, you know the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November. But we’ve got to do the exact same thing. I would encourage all of you, if you have an Android or an Apple device, to download that app, and maybe your goal is to register one new Republican voter.
Listen to the audio:
The admissions by both Kemp and Senator Fran Millar that minority voters are almost certainly going to vote against the GOP in November contradicts the recent spin by the national party. Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus announced last year that his party would spend millions to reach out to minority groups. The RNC’s own autopsy report on the party’s 2012 election defeats found that many minorities “think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country,” (wrongly, the report argued). Latinos and African Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2012, citing concerns about salary, wages, affordablehealthcare, and immigration.
On Tuesday, Kemp launched a “voter fraud” investigation into a voter registration effort he suspects may have “forged voter registration applications, forged signatures on releases, and applications with false or inaccurate information.” Accusations of voter fraud have been a frequent tool of Republican secretaries of state.
A year ago, Kemp warned that allowing citizens to register to vote on Election Day would undermine their “individual freedoms.” In 2012, he spearheaded an error-riddled effort to purge voters from the rolls just months before the November elections.
Better Georgia executive director Bryan Long said in a statement that Kemp’s and Millar’s comments suggest the investigation is aimed at voter suppression. “The right to vote is sacred, and we should all want to encourage people to vote instead of making it more difficult,” he wrote, adding that, “GOP candidates in Georgia know they cannot win if the electorate reflects the increasing diversity of our state, so Sec. Kemp is using the power of his office to restrict minority voting access. The Justice Department should investigate.
A spokesman for Kemp did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry about the remarks.
Source: Josh Israel for ThinkProgress
It is rare for a politician to publicly deride efforts to boost voter turnout. It is seen as a taboo in a country that prides itself on its democratic ideals. Yet, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week slammed efforts to simplify voter registration.
Referring to Illinois joining other states — including many Republican-led ones — in passing a same-day voter registration law, Christie said: “Same-day registration all of a sudden this year comes to Illinois. Shocking. It’s shocking. I’m sure it was all based on public policy, good public policy to get same-day registration here in Illinois just this year, when the governor is in the toilet and needs as much help as he can get.”
Christie was campaigning for Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed the same-day registration bill into law in July.
Christie, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, denounced the effort to boost voter turnout as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite the Illinois State Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Referring to the same-day voter initiative, Christie said Quinn “will try every trick in the book,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Christie said the program is designed to be a major “obstacle” for the GOP’s gubernatorial candidates.
The trouble with such rhetoric – beyond its anti-democratic themes — is its absurd assertions about partisan motives. After all, many of the 11 states with same-day registration laws currently have Republican governors.
In reality, same-day registration is all about turnout, not partisanship. According to data compiled by the think tank Demos, average voter turnout is more than 10 percent higher in states that allow citizens to register on the same day that they vote. Demos also notes that “four of the top five states for voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election all offered same-day registration.” There was some evidence in Wisconsin that same-day registration boosted Democratic turnout, but the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison reports that “Republican areas also saw heavy use of the state’s last-minute registration law.” The registration system been also been adopted by such deeply Republican states as Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
Unlike Christie, most Republicans who have fought voter turnout efforts like same-day registration have argued that same-day registration would increase voter fraud. This has allowed the GOP to position itself as battling crime — not as trying to block legal voters. But the GOP has been unable to substantiate that voter-fraud claim, and there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Demos, for example, surveyed data from six states with same-day registration and found that “there has been very little voter fraud in [same-day registration] states over the past several election cycles.” In GOP-dominated North Dakota — which requires no voter registration at all — Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger, a Republican, reported that “voter fraud has not been widespread in North Dakota” and that there have been “very few known incidents of voter fraud” in the state.
Those findings confirm a recent analysis of primary, general, special and municipal elections by Loyola University professor Justin Levitt. He found that since 2000, more than a billion ballots have been cast in the United States and there have been just 31 credible incidents of voter fraud.
In light of that data, Republican efforts to prevent same-day registration and preclude voting betray a fear that has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with political power. Essentially, the GOP fears that when more Americans exercise their basic democratic rights, Republicans may have less chance of winning elections.
This weekend, the Dallas Morning News ran a long investigative piece exposing for the first time an armed raid that state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office ordered on a Houston voter registration operation, Houston Votes, back in 2010. The aftermath played out like ACORN in miniature: Despite the fact that nobody at Houston Votes was charged with any wrongdoing, the organization folded under the pressure of Abbott’s investigation.
The story provides an interesting look at the mechanics of the GOP’s obsessive search for certain types of extraordinarily rare voter fraud in order to justify extreme measures making it harder to cast a ballot. And it also stars two people who have since become familiar names in the national effort to make it more difficult to vote: Abbott, who is now the GOP nominee for governor of Texas, and Catherine Engelbrecht, who now runs the national group True the Vote, but who got her start running a Texas Tea Party group called King Street Patriots.
The raid on Houston Votes was part of a larger campaign by Abbott to uncover what he calls an “epidemic” of voter fraud, in an apparent effort to build support for a restrictive Voter ID law in Texas. Abbott’s campaign hasn’t exactly been a success: According to MSNBC’s Zach Roth, “over the 13 years of Abbott’s tenure, his office can only cite two fraudulent votes that might have been stopped by the ID law.” In the meantime, Abbott’s effort has resulted in some strangely zealous prosecutions, including those of a group of Tea Party activists who tried to cast protest votes in a resident-less utility district.
Dallas Morning News reporter James Drew explains how a racially charged speech by Engelbrecht led to Abbot’s investigation of and raid on Houston Votes:
On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.
The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.
His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.
A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.
The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.
Fred Lewis formed Texans Together in 2006.
The nonprofit community organizing group used volunteers to register voters in 2008 under the name Houston Votes. It registered only about 6,000 people that year.
For the next big election, in 2010, Lewis wanted to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County. He knew he couldn’t hit that number with volunteers. Houston Votes decided to use paid workers.
By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group. At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, talked about the New Black Panther Party. She then played a Fox news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”
The clip was 5 years old. It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston. She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling streets.
Dowling Street is infamous for a 1970 gun battle between police officers and African-American militants, one of whom was killed.
“Houston has a new neighbor,” Engelbrecht said. She added that a person outside the house appeared to be an employee of Houston Votes.
The house shown on the screen was the office of Houston Votes. It had nothing to do with the New Black Panther Party. And it was about 9 miles from Dowling Street.
Two weeks later, the King Street Patriots held another meeting. Paul Bettencourt, the former Harris County tax assessor-collector, was a guest speaker.
He said Houston Votes was worse at registering voters than ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Dozens of ACORN employees across the nation were convicted of voter registration fraud.
The next day, Bettencourt’s successor as tax assessor-collector, fellow Republican Leo Vasquez, held a news conference.
“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name ‘Houston Votes,’” he said.
Houston Votes had submitted about 25,000 voter registration applications. Vasquez said many were duplicates, or already registered. Only 7,193 were “apparently new voters,” he said.
Houston Votes later pointed to public records showing that at the time of the news conference, about 21,000 of the 25,000 who applied to register were already validated by the county and pending final approval by the secretary of state. Among those 21,000, the state had already given final approval to 7,193.
Vasquez announced he was referring the matter for “investigation and possible prosecution” to the Texas secretary of state and the Harris County district attorney.
The secretary of state, who advises local election officials on election laws, forwarded Vasquez’s information to the attorney general’s office on Sept. 14, 2010.
Abbott’s office opened a criminal investigation soon after.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
A Republican congressman and his party’s nominee for Iowa Secretary of State are accusing Democrats of a secret plan to rig the upcoming election. But rather than take this warning of impending election fraud to the police, they took it to their fundraising email list.
Democrats and Republicans have paid close attention to Secretary of State campaigns, especially in swing states, ever since the disputed presidential election of 2000. After all, Secretaries of State from Katherine Harris in Florida 2000 to Ken Blackwell in 2004 showed just how influential the office can be in close races.
That’s why Republicans in Iowa are pulling out all the stops to keep control of the Secretary of State seat, especially in advance of the 2016 presidential election.
In an email sent on July 28th on behalf of Republican Secretary of State nominee Paul Pate’s campaign, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) accused Democrats of rigging Minnesota’s 2008 Senate election on behalf of Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), using their control of the Secretary of State office. The result was razor-thin, with Franken ultimately topping then-Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) by just 312 votes. Though King didn’t make a specific accusation, Politifact has rated similar claims of fraud as “false.”
“This wasn’t a fair recount,” King wrote Pate’s supporters. “This was a democrat plan put into action two years in advance of Coleman’s re-election campaign.”
However, rather than just re-litigating a close election in the past, King used the episode to warn about Democrats’ supposed intentions for Iowa’s upcoming elections. “There is an important U.S. Senate race in Iowa this year, and Senator Grassley will be up for re-election two years from now,” King wrote. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what they are up to.”
Read an excerpt of the email here:
Ironically, the most pernicious developments in election law over the past few election cycles haven’t been organized election fraud like King describes, but Republican-led efforts to suppress votes. These measures have ranged from requiring photo identification to vote to rolling back state laws that permit voter registration on Election Day. While supporters of these voting restrictions often argue they are necessary to prevent voter fraud — a virtually nonexistent crime — the laws tend to make it harder for minorities, seniors, students, and poor people to vote. After the 2012 election, Republican officials in Florida admitted that their slew of election law changes were intended to target Democrats.
Pate said he supports bringing voter ID to Iowa, a move that could disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters, but said he hopes it will be a bipartisan initiative. Implementing voter ID has long been a goal of Pate’s; in 2010 he endorsed (and chaired) current Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s (R) campaign by noting that “He will stop voter fraud by instituting a photo ID, reforming same-day registration, and creating a crime stoppers hotline for voter fraud in Iowa.”
Nationwide, a conservative PAC was recently formed to boost conservative Secretary of State candidates. The organization, SOS for SoS, is preparing to spend $10 million in nine states this year, including in Iowa. A liberal PAC, SoS for Democracy, is looking to provide a counterweight this year.
Republican Greg Abbott has taken the war on women a little too far. Sure, he’s against paycheck fairness and equal pay, and he chose a corporation over a rape victim. But to spy on an elderly woman through her bathroom window seems a bit far fetched, even for a Texas Republican.
But the ends justify the ever increasing desperate means it seems. Republicans figuratively donned their James O’Keefe investigative pimp kits and headed out to frighten elderly minority women in a desperate and misguided attempt to prove that non-existent voter fraud was a thing. Why not spy on naked citizens using their bathrooms in the name of small government?
Yes. In 2006, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, charged with upholding the law, deployed his office in an “investigation” to prove voter fraud that was dubbed a “wild goose chase.” It was during this “investigation” that an elderly woman said in a sworn statement that two investigators from Greg Abbott’s office were peeking in her bathroom window.
The Houston Chronicle reported at the time:
Gloria Meeks of Fort Worth, also 69, said she stepped out of her morning bath last month and screamed.
Two voter fraud investigators from Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office were peeking in her bathroom window, Meeks said in a sworn statement.
Ms. Meeks said she was being investigated for helping the elderly and disabled vote, according to the New York Times.
Via a Lonestar Report on her sworn statement, we learn that she was naked and the agents justified this because they thought it was a kitchen window:
According to the sworn statement of Ms. Gloria Meeks, a 69 year- old Fort Worth community activist, two of Abbott’s voter fraud agents came on to her property and looked into her bathroom window while she was unclothed and leaving the shower. Incredibly, the agents justified their privacy violation by explaining, that they thought they were peeping in the “kitchen window.”
Oh. So that’s what Texas would be like if Abbott wins. Good times.
Lest you get caught up in the whole spying on an elderly woman through her bathroom window, the effort was much more widespread than that. The Lonestar Project revealed in 2008 that the results of Abbott’s very expensive “investigation” proved that voter fraud was practically non-existent. But also, “Texas Democratic Party officials and legal counsel became aware and concerned about the Texas Attorney Genera’s vote suppression efforts following the release of reports from the Lone Star Project. The reports raise questions about the legality of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s use of federal grant funds to investigate and prosecute citizens who have participated in mail ballot programs that benefit seniors and the disabled.”
Mail in your ballot? The Abbot team might be peeking in your bathroom windows! You know, just to be sure. Not to worry, though, if you are a Republican. Republican voters were not under “investigation” in this effort to get rid of a non-existent problem. But it’s totally legitimate to prosecute just your opposition, right? Like a witch hunt, but without the public aspect. This is what we want from our Attorney Generals – to take us back to before the American justice system.
The Lonestar Project busted the AG again:
The Lone Star Project issued numerous open records requests to the AG and found that virtually all the prosecutions were of minority senior citizens who were doing nothing more than helping their neighbors vote. Additional research showed that ALL those prosecuted were Democrats. This research was confirmed by a Dallas Morning News investigative report this month detailing that:
“26 cases – all against Democrats, and almost all involving blacks or Hispanics… In 18 of the 26 cases, the voters were eligible, votes were properly cast and no vote was changed – but the people who collected the ballots for mailing were prosecuted.” (Dallas Morning News, May 18, 2008)
Intimidating minorities to rig the vote? No problem! Greg Abbott has been trying anything he can think of to keep minorities from voting, which is the opposite of upholding the law.
In fact, his office is back in court this week defending Republican-championed redistricting maps (congressional and legislative) from charges that they intentionally discriminate against African Americans and Hispanics. It’s not like he did an investigation that only went after mostly minority Democrats and spied on an elderly minority woman in her bathroom. What can go wrong?
Abbott has only spent $3.9 million of Texas taxpayers’ money on the defense, though, so it’s not like he’s going full pimp O’Keefe yet. But the meter is still running at full speed. Anything to give the Republicans an edge.
A Wisconsin insurance executive and Republican donor was charged with voting illegally more than a dozen times in four elections.
The Journal-Sentinel reported that 50-year-old Robert Monroe was caught as a result of an investigation into a possible illegal voting by his son in Waukesha County. But after his son denied requesting an absentee ballot from his father’s address in Shorewood, suspicion turned to Monroe.
A complaint claimed that Monroe voted five times in Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recalled election. He also was accused of voting illegally in a 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, a 2012 primary, and the 2012 presidential election.
Although the complaint did not state who Monroe voted for, WISN determined that he had donated money to Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling.
Prosecutors used Monroe’s cell phone records to prove that he traveled all the way to Indiana to cast a second vote in the 2012 presidential election. Prosecutors also tested some of the ballots for genetic material, and only found DNA belonging to Monroe.
In May of 2012, prosecutors said that Monroe begged his ex-wife, sons and brother to register to vote in a text message.
“You must go to city hall and register to vote,” the message said. “Every vote will be needed!… Please please please.”
According to the complaint, Monroe worked as an executive in the health care industry. His LinkedIn page indicated that he was an insurance executive, who said he loved “the thrill of the hunt, leading teams and developing new business.”
For his part, Monroe insisted to investigators that he did not remember voting in the elections because he takes drugs for Attention Deficit and Obsessive Compulsive disorders.
Monroe faces 13 felony election fraud charges in all, including voting more than once, voting as a disqualified person, registering in more than one place, and providing false information to election officials. He could spend up to 18 months in prison, and pay a $10,000 fine for each charge.
His next court date was set for July 17.
Watch the video below from WISN, broadcast June 23, 2014.
Missouri Republicans are pushing for a measure to expand early voting in the state. The move seems like a departure from the nationwide, GOP-led effort to shrink the window of time voters have access to the polls, but Democrats say it’s more of the same. The measure from Missouri’s Republicans, who in May failed to amend the state’s constitution to implement stricter voter ID requirements, comes at the same time as a citizen-led ballot measure that would expand early voting significantly. State GOPers say their version, which expands early voting by a much smaller amount and includes restrictions, will combat voter fraud and help voters make up their minds. But critics say the Republican-backed measure excludes days when working families and African American voters are more likely to hit the polls.
The hullabaloo started after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when volunteers such as Greg Oelke, a retired pipefitter in Missouri, gathered signatures to place an initiative on the ballot that would give voters six extra weeks to get to the polls at multiple locations and provide time to vote on the weekends. Oelke, who often worked overtime on construction projects both in and out of Missouri, collected signatures around Springfield because he said it was hard for him to make it to the polls on Election Day. “Early voting is an issue that really means a lot to me,” he told Missouri Jobs With Justice, a group that helped organize the petition drive.
In early May, after hundreds of volunteers collected signatures in church basements and break rooms, citizens delivered a petition with more than 300,000 signatures to Missouri’s secretary of state, whose office has until August to verify the signatures and decide whether to place the measure on the November ballot. But Missouri Republicans won’t let that happen without a fight.
On April 1, a couple months after the petition drive had begun, Rep. Tony Dugger (R-Hartville) sponsored a competing measure. In May, the GOP-led House passed a version of the bill that expands early voting by six days—excluding the weekend—to a limited number of polling places, while also prohibiting same-day voter registration. If the citizens’ initiative is approved, both measures will appear on the ballot in November. “The testimony in the Legislature in favor of the sham early voting bill was actually testimony against early voting,” says Lara Granich, the director of Missouri Jobs With Justice. “That makes the real motivation behind it clear. They want it to be more difficult for folks to vote.”
GOP-led legislatures in other key swing states, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, have all recently advanced measures to cut down on early voting. Democrats contend that Republicans target early voting because people who utilize it—low-income voters and minority voters—tend to also vote Democrat, a perception fueled by President Obama success with early voters, the Associated Press notes.
Republicans have offered different theories as to why six days of early voting makes more sense than six weeks. Last week, state Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific) told the Missourian that six weeks of early voting would give voters too much time to commit voter fraud. (Between 2000 and 2010, there were 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation nationwide.) State Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington) said that six weeks of early voting “invites and begs” voter fraud, because it’s not uncommon for people to lie about their addresses, or to have people vote who are not registered. Mother Jones reached out to both Curtman and Nieves for information about documented voter fraud cases in Missouri, but did not receive a response.
Dugger, who introduced the measure, did not comment on the voter fraud allegations. He told Mother Jones that six weeks of early voting is too much because voters who cast a ballot early might end up changing their minds by Election Day. “I don’t want anyone to feel as if they wasted their their vote,” he says, noting that keeping the polls open for six weeks is a financial burden. “I think six days is a reasonable step.”
Granich argues that “if you are juggling two jobs and a family, six more days of bankers’ hours does nothing for you. This is really a cynical attempt to confuse voters.” Denise Lieberman, senior attorney at the Advancement Project, says that other states have demonstrated that early voting makes voting significantly more accessible, and voters aren’t required to vote early. As for the argument that early voting could promote voter fraud, she says, “I find it flabbergasting.”
Yesterday, Accuracy In Media published a report by James Simpson alleging that voter fraud is a massive, “existential threat to our American Republic,” and the result of Democratic election tampering. Like other right-wing reports on voter fraud, the article is highly speculative and fails to offer any actual evidence of large-scale fraud.
In fact, legislative “fixes” to combat the non-existent voter fraud epidemic recently lost in courts in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Wisconsin due to the inability to find any actual evidence of voter fraud.
The only “proof” of voter fraud that Simpson lists is college students voting in the state where they attend school, which is legal, and the findings of the extremely unreliable “crosscheck” system, which checks to see if voters in more than one state have similar names and birthdays. He writes said that the campaign to replace the electoral college with a national popular vote and efforts to restore felons’ right to vote are will also increase voter fraud, mainly because he thinks such steps will benefit Democrats.
Simpson alleges that “Democrats’ attitude toward voter fraud is the voting version of reparations for slavery,” pointing to a case in Port Chester, New York, where the town switched to a new voting method following a court case on lack of Latino representation in government.
He claims that “Hispanics were allowed to cast six votes” in Port Chester’s council races.
However, the method known as cumulative voting (where each voter can cast multiple votes, including more than one to the same candidate), applied to all voters, not just Hispanic voters as Simpson suggests.
The Brennan Center notes that “the Department of Justice filed a complaint alleging Port Chester’s at-large system of electing its board of trustees diluted the voting strength of its Hispanic citizens” in 2006, under the Bush administration.Democrats’ attitude toward voter fraud is the voting version of reparations for slavery. Some Democrats have even said that because minorities and the poor have little influence, “extraordinary measures (for example, stretching the absentee ballot or registration rules) are required to compensate.” Democrat election officials do this all the time, and a form of it has actually become official Justice Department policy in its effort to boost Hispanic representation.
Hispanic voters in Port Chester, New York were allowed to use something called “cumulative voting” in an election for village trustees. There were six trustee seats and Hispanics were allowed to cast six votes in any way they chose, for example, casting one vote for each of six candidates or all six for one candidate. Cumulative voting has also been used to elect a school board in Amarillo, Texas, the county commission in Chilton County, Alabama, and the city council in Peoria, Illinois.
Having rationalized the moral high ground with their “voter suppression” charge—Democrats go on the warpath. In recent years this has involved lawsuits, organized slander and a nationwide campaign to resist election reform. Under the Obama presidency, it has also included using federal agencies to attack private citizens and organizations.
So who is doing the suppressing? By thwarting efforts to clean up the voting process, Obama and the Democrats are suppressing every single legitimate vote stolen by voter fraud. By cheating conservatives of their ability to organize and communicate with the voting public, Obama’s IRS is denying their rights to free speech. By denying conservatives’ right to educate the public, for example, regarding candidates’ records on Obamacare, the IRS is preventing voters from being informed. Obama and the Democrats are not battling voter suppression, they have institutionalized it.
Voter fraud, and the corrupt political infrastructure that facilitates, or at best ignores it, is an existential threat to our American Republic. The only answer is to elect principled conservative leaders willing to recognize and confront this threat.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Kobach Claims Voting Rights Groups Want 'Loosey-Goosey' System So They Can 'Benefit From That Fraud' | Right Wing Watch
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures throughout the country, won a big victory last week when a federal court allowed Kansas and Arizona to require extra proof of citizenship from people registering to vote with federal voter registration forms.
Kansas’ strict new documentation requirement – which requires residents to produce a birth certificate, passport, or similar document in order to register to vote – has thrown the voter registrations of 16,000 people into limbo, a problem that Kobach has consistently laughed off.
In an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Kobach insisted that voting rights advocates on the “radical left” have “great difficulty demonstrating that it’s actually harder” to register to vote with his arcane new system. In fact, he alleged that voting rights groups “just want the loosey-goosey kind of system that allows fraud to occur because they perhaps feel they can benefit from that fraud.”
To illustrate the urgent importance of blocking tens of thousands of people from the ballot box in order to prevent noncitizens from voting, Kobach produced “a couple of recent examples” of such fraud occurring. One such “recent example” was from 1997 – or 17 years ago. The other – a tale of “50 Somali nationals” voting in a Democratic primary in Kansas city, Missouri in 2010 – never actually happened. When Kobach brought up the same anecdote in an op-ed last year, the Kansas City Star looked into it and found that a court had dismissed charges about the illegal votes, finding that “credible evidence proves that there was no voter misconduct and there was no voter fraud with regard to this election.”
Interestingly, there was proven voter fraud in that 2010 Kansas City election. One candidate’s uncle and aunt pleaded guilty for fraud for voting for their nephew even though they lived outside of his district. That fraud would not have been prevented by Kobach’s proof-of-citizenship law.
Yet, Kobach is so insistent that the “radical left” wants to use noncitizen voters to steal elections that he’s willing to put the voter registrations of tens of thousands of Kansans on hold in the name of preventing it.
Kobach: We’ve got cases going back years in this country of aliens usually being manipulated by someone who’s trying to steal an election or trying to influence an election. They’re told, ‘hey you can vote,’ they may not know that they’re breaking federal and state law, but they go ahead and register to vote.
So, I can give you a couple of recent examples in our neck of the woods. In Kansas City, Missouri, in 2010, in the Democrat primary for the state legislature, about 50 Somali nationals were registered to vote and persuaded, coached, to vote for one candidate, and that guy ended up winning by one vote.
In Kansas, in my state, in 1997, some alien employees of a meat-packing plant across the border in Oklahoma were encouraged to register to vote in Kansas to help sway a country referendum on a hog-farming operation.
Perkins: Why the opposition? Why are people opposed to this?
Kobach: Well, as you know, it comes from groups on the radical left, and they make all kinds of claims asserting that it’s going to be harder to vote or harder to register, but they have great difficulty demonstrating that it’s actually harder or statistically showing that it produces reduced turnout when in fact the opposite seems to occur, people have greater confidence in their elections when they know they’re secure.
I don’t know, I think some of these groups just want the loosey-goosey kind of system that allows fraud to occur because they perhaps feel they can benefit from that fraud.
From the 03.22.2014 edition of FRC’s Washington Watch:
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Kobach Mocked 'Procrastinators' Disenfranchised By His Voter ID Law, Claimed 'Nobody's Rights Have Been Suspended'
Yesterday, Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach and Arizona attorney general Tom Horne scored a big victory in federal court when a Kansas district court judge ruled that federal voter registration forms in both states must require voters to show proof of citizenship.
The proof-of-citizenship requirement, which Kobach shepherded through his state’s legislature, has created a huge mess, leaving the registrations suspended of nearly 16,000 voters who hadn’t or couldn’t provide the necessary documents.
Throughout the process, Kobach has dismissed the concerns of voting rights advocates and the growing chorus of protest from elections officials, newspaper editorial boards and others in Kansas. When 12,000 voters had their registration thrown in limbo, Kobach said it wasn’t a “major problem” because it was “only a tiny percentage” of the total voting population. (By contrast, the supposed reason for the law was to prevent a handful of fraudulent votes cast over a dozen years). When it was announced that only 72 percent of registered voters were able to meet the new requirement, Kobach boasted that “that’s actually an extraordinarily high percentage” and blamed “procrastination” for the 28 percent without complete registrations.
In a speech that Kobach gave in January to the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, a Tenth Amendment group, Kobach mocked the Kansans then totalling 19,000 – whose voter registrations were in limbo as “the 28 percent procrastinators,” claiming that “nobody’s been denied any rights.”
“Nobody’s rights have been suspended,” he claimed. “Those 19,000 people haven’t completed their registration yet. They can complete it tomorrow and vote tomorrow if they want to. Nobody’s been denied any rights, they just haven’t finished it yet.”
“Oh and by the way, 72 percent of the people who have registered to vote since January 1, 2013, have completed their application and have sent in proof of citizenship. So those are the 28 percent procrastinators.”
“We should not get alarmed at all by the number that the left continually throws around,” he said.
Tellingly, when Kobach first mentions “voting rights,” and audience member loudly corrects him: “privilege, privilege.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
It’s just, I think, sad when a political party — my political party — has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. And again, I’m a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But that fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud. The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their votes counted. And that we should be pitching as political parties our ideas for improving things in the future, rather than mucking around in the mechanics and making it more confrontational at the voting sites and trying to suppress the vote.
Sen. Dale Schultz (R) who called out Wisconsin GOP politician for supporting voter suppression efforts (via Think Progress)
Schultz added that the suppression was “just plain wrong,” adding, “It is all predicated on some belief there is a massive fraud or irregularities, something my colleagues have been hot on the trail for three years and have failed miserably at demonstrating.” The GOP-controlled Assembly has already passed a similar bill.
This obstruction is national policy by now. Voter suppression couched in voter I.d legislation is invariably a Republican initiave
#WIGov, #2016GOP: Scott Walker Gets Busted For Lying About Voting For Ronald Reagan - politicususa.com
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is claiming that he voted for Ronald Reagan, but this is impossible because Walker wasn’t old enough to vote in 1980 or 1984.
During an interview with Right Wing News, Walker said:
It was, I mean, it’s so frustrating. I mean, you think in modern American history we’ve never had someone running for re-election with an unemployment rate so high that ultimately won the election. I believe Mitt Romney is a good man. I think he would have been a good president, but I think he was mis-served by many in his campaign, many of whom believed, I think incorrectly, that Ronald Reagan won under similar circumstances almost exclusively on the idea that the question was making the election an referendum on Jimmy Carter. In fact, I quote the famous line that Reagan used, “You’re better off today than you were four years ago.” The problem is the Romney camp thought that was the entire focus of the campaign.
They failed to see that Reagan’s campaign…… that statement was the closing argument in one of the last debates. It was a way of wrapping things together, but his campaign was much more than just being against Jimmy Carter. It was much more aspirational and Americans could see — and to this day 33 years later — you can still look back and say that and vote for Ronald Reagan. I remember, I was a teenager, had just become a teenager and voted for Ronald Reagan — limited government, you know, smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense. You knew what you were getting. You knew how a Reagan administration, a Reagan presidency was going to be better for you.
The problem is that Scott Walker was 13 years old in 1980, and 17 years old in 1984. The legal voting age is 18. There is no way that Scott Walker could have legally voted for Ronald Reagan unless he committed voter fraud. This is another example of why Scott Walker could be a formidable 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. The man will lie about anything. He has no conscience when it comes to lying.
Walker has taken the strategy that every Republican candidate uses of selling themselves as the next Reagan to a whole new level. He has invented a fictional connection between himself and Ronald Reagan. Scott Walker isn’t the heir apparent to Ronald Reagan. His ability to lie, and bland personality, puts him right in line with Mitt Romney. The difference is that Walker has the credibility with the far right that Romney always lacked.