The Republican party has been caught red-handed paying millions of dollars to a company owned by a longtime GOP operative with a track record of committing voter registration fraud. Remember the girl caught on video saying she was registering voters, but only Republicans? Turns out she worked for that company, Strategic Allied Consulting, which has been paid more than $3 million by the Republican party in at least 7 states. Sproul’s history is not a good one.
Now there are a couple of different things going on here. One is exactly what ACORN was accused of, turning in falsified voter registration applications. This is something that no company wants to have happen; after all, they’re paying people to go out and canvas and register voters. Some of those people are inevitably going to take the easy way out and just fill out a bunch of forms with information out of the phone book or with fake names they made up in order to pretend that they earned their pay when they didn’t.
It would be hard to blame Sproul or the GOP for that, except that there appears to be one difference — no one was apparently checking the forms. ACORN knew that problem was inevitable, so they had a quality control system in place where supervisors went over each application turned in by canvassers. If they saw similar names and addresses, or similar handwriting on a bunch of different applications, they separated those out from the ones that appeared to be valid and turned them in (they are required by law to turn over every application, even if they think it’s bad) with a note indicating the name of the canvasser. If there was actual fraud going on, the canvasser who did it could then be prosecuted (and many of them were). But there is nothing to indicate that Sproul’s company was doing that. If they didn’t do that, they’re showing enormous incompetence (again, not malice, since they don’t stand to gain anything by turning in bad voter registrations).
The other obvious difference is that the DNC did not hire ACORN to do anything, while the RNC has paid millions to Sproul. And the Romney campaign has also hired another Sproul front company as a consultant to its own campaign.
But the second thing that is going on here is what appears in that now-famous video of the canvasser saying they were only registering Republicans to vote. And that’s something Sproul’s companies have apparently done in the past as well — and the GOP knew that and still hired him anyway. Former employees have said that they were told to ask someone what party they belonged to and then discard the applications filled out by Democrats. And the ads they took out in many other states shows that this is exactly their intent:
Late last month, Greg Flynn at the North Carolina blog BlueNC reported on some of their job listings seeking workers in that swing-state, which Obama narrowly won in 2008, offering to pay anywhere from $11 to $13 per hour.
“WANT TO HELP REPUBLICANS WIN IN NC?,” reads one ad, “We are currently hiring self-motivated people to contact voters for the election. No experience needed! We are paying $13/per hour for this program.”
“Are you interested in helping Mitt Romney win North Carolina?,” reads another, “I am with the North Carolina Republican Party working with Voter Registration Projects and am looking for team members to help expand Republican voter registration.”
“Republican Voter Registration Captains Needed,” begins another, requesting applicants submit resumes to John Bria of Strategic Allied Consulting. “Help GOP candidates win in November and become an integral part a [sic] presidential campaign.”
“Employees will go to high traffic areas, identify conservative voters, ensure that their voter registration is up to date, and then report back at night with their data and the voter registration forms that they collected.”
This is why voter registration should not be done by the parties. It should be done only by non-partisan organizations and it should be illegal to ask someone their party identification or who they plan to vote for when registering them to vote. Because companies like this have also been accused of changing voter registrations from Democrat to Republican in states that have closed primaries. Here’s Brad Friedman on the Thom Hartman show talking about it:
Here’s another difference. Friedman notes:
Please notice that neither Brietbart’s website, nor Fox “News”, both of whom had pretended to be so concerned about “voter fraud” by ACORN in previous years (when they committed no such thing), has yet to say word one about any of this, as Eric Boehlert notes at Media Matters. And at Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald reports that “a search on Strategic Allied Consulting or Nathan Sproul turns up zero results on the Weekly Standard, the National Review, RedState, the Breitbart sites, Michelle Malkin, Hot Air and other” Rightwing sites that went wall-to-wall about ACORN in the past. That, even though, in this case, unlike with the ACORN nonsense, there is actual evidence of real voter registration fraud by the RNC (ACORN was never backed by the DNC) which could, as the Palm Beach County, FL Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher pointed out to me during my Wednesday interview with her on this, end up disenfranchising an unknown number of otherwise legal voters in Florida, as well as other states where this crew has been at work.
And this is interesting as well. It looks like the RNC tried to cover its ties to Sproul by having him create a new company with a new name:
Sproul told the Times he formed Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the RNC for publicity’s sake, given past negative media coverage of Lincoln stemming from past allegations going back to 2004, when employees in Nevada and Oregon signed up Democrats but threw out their forms instead of turning them in.
According to Sproul himself, the RNC knew exactly what they were doing and were trying to cover their tracks. So here we have a company doing exactly what ACORN was accused of doing, but apparently showing no concern about identifying the fraudulent applications; explicitly trying to register only Republican voters; being paid millions by the RNC and the Romney campaignl; and being told to change their name to avoid detection. And not a peep from the folks who threw a tantrum over ACORN in 2008. What a coinkydink.
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