You're unlikely to hear a peep about this on Fox "News" (unless they happen to have me on), but the California Secretary of State's Election Fraud Division is now reportedly investigating a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party said to have submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms.
According to a report today from Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 [see video posted below], a private, for-profit firm calling itself Momentum Political Services, hired by the local Republican Party "to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities" has turned in more than 3,100 invalid voter registration cards during their recent drive.
[UPDATE 5/7/12: According to Sacramento Bee's 5/5/12 report, the number of bad registration forms is much higher than 3,100. The paper reports that since September, out of some 31,000 cards turned in by Momentum Political Services, "at least one-fourth of them have been thrown out because of inaccuracies," according to the Sacramento Registrar of Voters. That puts the questionable registrations from the GOP's company at more than 7,500.]
Voter registration forms have allegedly been turned in with fake addresses, voter names that don't exist, duplicate Social Security numbers, and party affiliations that seem to have been changed "by someone" to Republican. The head of the firm has admitted she has hired workers with criminal backgrounds, as found via Craigslist.
The charges of serial voter registration fraud sound very similar to those leveled in 2008 against another outfit hired by the California State GOP to register Republican voters before that year's Presidential election. In that case, the head of the firm was arrested, and eventually pleaded guilty to voter registration charges himself.
In 2006, another firm hired by the CA Republican Party turned in thousands of registration forms with fake names and an error rate as high as 60 percent. And in 2004, a firm hired by the GOP was investigated in a number of states for shredding Democratic voter registrations and tossing them into dumpsters. Despite those allegations, the same folks were later hired by the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 to run voter registration drives before the Presidential election.
Of course, you probably haven't heard of any of those stories, even while you've heard plenty about a handful of ACORN workers --- no actual ACORN officials, mind you, and they were never hired by the Democratic Party, and never led to a fraudulent vote --- turning in fraudulent registration forms in past years.
But nobody who ever worked for the non-profit ACORN has ever been accused of what these Republican firms continue to do on behalf of the Republican officials who hire them, paying them per Republican registration, year after year, as is once again apparent in the allegations surfacing today against Momentum Political Services...
Thousands of Fraudulent Applications
News10 reports that Sacramento County election officials began noticing "invalid voter registration cards at much higher rates than previous for-profit registration drives." Once election officials began tracking the cards coming in from Momentum Political Services, they found that "44 percent of all invalid voter registration cards in the county came from just one company."
State and federal campaign records show Momentum was paid some $49,000 by the Sacramento County Republican Party to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities.
Sacramento County elections officials put the tally of invalid cards submitted by Momentum Political Services at more than 3,100.
In some instances, cards were submitted with street numbers or names that can't be found. In others, the voters themselves don't appear to exist, as formal county registration letters come back undeliverable. Officials said a number of cards were also submitted for individual voters who not only couldn't be located, but who also all had the same last four Social Security digits.
And in some instances, the voter's party affiliation appears to have been changed, by someone, to Republican.
"The circulator signed in blue ink, and it just happens that the party is checked in a blue ink," said [Sacramento County registrar of voters Jill] LaVine during an examination of one suspicious card. "The voter did the rest [of the card] in black ink."
A number of the invalid registration forms have reportedly been turned over to the CA Sec. of State's election fraud division, though a spokesperson there has declined to comment, as per their usual procedure, about whether an official investigation is currently under way.
The owner of Momentum Political Services, Monica Harris has admitted only that "some of her contractors had been 'sloppy'" according to News10, and that she has now fired 16 of them.
Contrast that with the non-partisan ACORN which actually developed a system to try and confirm the legitimacy of each and every voter registration form they collected, flag the ones they could not be confirmed as "potentially fraudulent," before turning them in (as required by law), along with the names of workers who had defrauded them to election officials and law enforcement agencies.
Nonetheless, ACORN was described hyperbolically by John McCain himself during the GOP's 2008 version of the "ACORN 'Voter Fraud' Hoax" as "one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country" which, he said, was "destroying the fabric of democracy."
Never mind that the rates of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by firms hired by Republicans are far greater than any of those turned in (and flagged as fraudulent!) by ACORN --- 60% versus less than 1% --- or the fact that McCain was the keynote speaker at an ACORN rally in 2006 --- before he became the GOP Presidential nominee --- when he lauded the four-decade old community organization by telling them that they were "what makes America special."
Meanwhile, in California, where the GOP has long paid "bounties" for Republican-only registrations, Momentum Political Services appears to have actually signed voters up as Republicans whether they wished to be affiliated with the party or not, according to News10:
"He never asked me about my party affiliation," said Folsom resident Malinda Cruse, who said the man that registered her filled out the entire form on her behalf, offering to mail it in after letting her sign it.
"I was shocked that I was a registered Republican," said Cruse, who said she would have registered as a Democrat if given the chance.
Moreover, Harris says that she finds workers via advertisements on Craigslist and that some of them have criminal records. ACORN has been criticized, over the years, for doing the same thing, even though part of their mission had been to help those with difficult pasts get back on their feet and become productive members of society.
News10 reports that "Harris said she asks if any contractor has a conviction for breaking state election laws, but conceded that she does not do any formal background check."
"It's just not the standard in the industry," she claimed.
GOP Voter Registration Fraud in CA
Fraud by voter registration firms hired by the Republican Party in California seems to be a serial problem, occurring in very similar patterns election year after election year.
In 2008, just before I left for the studio for an appearance on Fox "News" with legendary GOP voter fraud fraudster John Fund, I received an emailed press release from the CA Secretary of State's office about the arrest of Mark Anthony Jacoby, the head of an outfit calling itself Young Political Majors (YPM), a firm which had been hired to register voters by the state GOP.
It was in the midst of that Presidential year's Fox "News"-promoted propaganda campaign against ACORN whose 13,000+ registration workers had managed to legally register about 1.3 million voters across the country in the run-up to the 2008 election. While Fox had been lying about ACORN around the clock (there is no evidence that any fraudulent vote has ever been cast via an improper registration by an ACORN worker in any election), it gave me the opportunity to deliver a "Fox 'News' Alert" about the arrest of the head of the CA GOP's registration firm for actual fraud. [See the video of that appearance below.]
The charges against Jacoby and YPM echo those made today against Momentum Political Services. As the LA Times reported at the time:
Jacoby, who had previously gotten into similar hot water in both Florida and Arizona in 2004, was nonetheless hired again by the CA GOP in 2008 before he would eventually be forced to plead guilty to voter registration fraud in 2009.
At the time of his arrest, a man claiming to be a former friend and colleague of Jacoby's, posted video of him threatening one of his workers in Arizona, before describing YPM's scheme for hoaxing citizens into registering as Republican voters:
* they make a fake petition, usually something involving tougher laws on sex offenders.
* they use these petitions to stop people, setting up in front of big box stores, on college campuses, etc
* once they have a person signing their petition, they start asking them questions on the voter registration form (what's your date of birth, which state/country were you born in, what's your drivers license/state ID number, etc).
* by the time they get done with these basic questions the person is usually done signing the petition. they then hand the voter registration form to the person, telling them to fill out their name and address and signature at the bottom.
* last step, they either ask them to mark 'republican' because it ensures future funding for their petition, or they don't tell the person anything and mark in republican themselves once the signer leaves.
using this strategy you can easily get over 100 republican registrations in a day. pay ranges from $5 - 10 per registration, so the people doing it definitely have the incentive to get as many registrations as possible.
The YPM scheme sounds very similar to the scheme that has been alleged against Momentum Political Services. But wasn't even a new scheme when YPM did it in 2008.
A Republican firm named Sproul & Associaties, headed up by a long-time GOP donor named Nathan Sproul was charged with "tricking Democrats into registering as Republicans, surreptitiously re-registering Democrats and Independents as Republicans, and shredding Democratic registration forms" back in 2004. The firm was paid more than $8 million dollars for the effort by the RNC and the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign, who subsequently attempted to hide those expenditures from the public.
In 2008, Sproul was, nonetheless, hired once again by the McCain campaign to register voters in California, according to Sam Stein at Huffington Post, who reported at the time:
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.
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.
As well, in 2006, GOP voter registration firms in California were reported by the LA Times to have turned in thousands of invalid registration forms, as well as signatures on petitions, in San Bernardino County. In once instance, "About 4,800 of more than 5,600 signatures submitted [by John Burkett Petition Management] were found to be invalid and were tossed out by election officials," the paper reported.
'Mistake' or GOP Election Strategy?
All-in-all, the rates of invalid and/or fraudulent registration forms and signatures by these firms, often as high as 60%, have proven far in excess of the "greatest frauds in voter history," as the disingenuous McCain had described ACORN. For the record, after being pressed on that fraudulent claim in the days just prior to the Presidential Election in 2008, a member of what McCain had laughably called his "McCain-Palin Honest and Open Election Committee" was forced to concede that he was unable to cite a single instance in which a fraudulent ACORN registration had led to an illegal vote.
"Do we have a documented instance of voting fraud that resulted from a phony registration form? No, I can't cite one," said the former election official turned member of McCain's committee.
It's a time-tested Republican scam. Claim Democrats are committing voter fraud, even while you're doing it yourself, use the false claims to deny Democrats their right to vote (via disenfranchising polling place Photo ID laws or voter caging) and then, if someone in the media actually bothers to press you on it, admit you can't cite any actual examples of any of it.
After the late Rightwing con-man Andrew Breibart had paid hoaxster James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles to create faked hit videos on ACORN, which eventually brought down the four-decade old advocacy group for low and middle-income Americans, then former Speaker of the House, now former Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich feigned outrage in a 2009 op-ed.
"ACORN has a long history of engaging in voter fraud," Gingrich lied at the time, failing to distinguish between actual voter fraud and the voter registration fraud carried out by a tiny portion of its tens of thousands of registration workers over the years.
Move the clock forward to 2012 and Gingrich himself, after his campaign had submitted thousands of admittedly fraudulent signatures to the state of Virginia in his unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the GOP Presidential Primary in his home state last March, referred to those 1,500 fraudulent signatures as little more than a "mistake".
"We turned in 11,100 --- we needed 10,000 --- 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud," Gingrich is seen and heard saying in video originally aired by CNN.
Gingrich's rate of fraud was far higher, once again, than anything ACORN was ever accused of, even though they were forced to shut their doors after the phony Breitbart/O'Keefe videos which Gingrich had lauded.
As The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively in January, the Virginia state Attorney General is now investigating the Gingrich campaign's petition signature fraud.
It was all "just a mistake," Gingrich is heard saying on video to his supporter after, he claims, his campaign had "hired somebody who turned in false signatures."
At what point, after how many years of the Republicans hiring firms who turn in false signatures, again and again and again, is it no longer seen as "just a mistake," but rather, a key campaign strategy for the Republican Party?
Sacramento ABC affiliate News10's 5/4/12 report on thousands of invalid voter registrations turned in by the GOP-hired voter registration firm Momentum Political Services...
My 10/19/08 appearance on Fox "News" with John Fund, offering my "Fox 'News' Alert" on the arrest of Mark Anthony Jacoby, the head of the GOP-hired voter registration firm Young Political Majors...