On today's BradCast, the last one before Election Day(!), we debunk a lot of nonsense --- and out-and-out lies from the Donald Trump Campaign, in several instances --- from over the weekend and in to today. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Among the stories and avalanche of news covered on today's BradCast:
FBI Director James Comey confirms there is nothing in newly discovered emails (most of them duplicates they'd seen before) that would lead to an indictment of Hillary Clinton;
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Last night on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture TV show...
If you missed either of the stories mentioned above at The BRAD BLOG, our coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court allowing GOP voting restrictions to move forward in OH is here, and our disturbing coverage of longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul's threat to take legal action against us for reporting accurately on his involvement in the 2012 GOP Voter Registration Scandal (and other similar scandals going back to 2004) is here.
And, again, we totally thank you in advance for any financial support you can offer to help us keep going. Monthly subscriptions are particularly appreciated. We did not receive $10 million from the Republican Party (or any party) as Sproul has over the past decade. You are our only support. Please take 30 seconds to use the table below to help us continue our work. We need your support now more than ever...
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The BradCast, like The BRAD BLOG and Green News Report, is supported only by you. If you receive any value from our work, please consider tossing something in the hat for us below. We very much need it and would greatly appreciate it! Thank you!!!
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Well, this is an interesting turn of events. It includes a bizarre twist that even we would not have foreseen, involving a Republican operative who is now threatening legal action against us for reporting (accurately) on his companies' relationship to voter registration fraud and deceptive voter registration practices during the 2012 election and in previous cycles.
The firm at the center of the RNC scandal was named Strategic Allied Consulting. It was created and run by Nathan Sproul, a notorious Arizona-based Republican operative with a checkered past, who ran Republican voter registration drives and other on-the-ground GOP activist campaigns. Sproul's name was not used in the legal filings which created Strategic Allied Consulting in advance of the 2012 election, due to his various companies facing voter registration fraud allegations and criminal investigations in a number of states going back as far as the 2004 Presidential election. Because of that unfairly tarnished background, Sproul claimed when the 2012 scandal first surfaced, the RNC didn't want his fingerprints on the operation. The RNC was dodgy about the issue, but fired Sproul and his firm in several states once the scandal came to light, despite having paid millions of dollars for the effort.
In the same series of articles, we also exposed the deceptive (and perhaps illegal) registration scheme employed by Sproul's firms in states where they operated. The scheme involved registration workers trained to pretend to be pollsters asking voters who they planned to support in the Presidential election. If they answered the question correctly (Romney) Sproul's workers would help them register to vote. If the unsuspecting citizen answered the "survey" question incorrectly (Obama), the workers would wish them a nice day, and then move on to the next target.
Now, a two-year Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation has finally wrapped up into the 2012 allegations in that state. It has led to yet another arrest of one of Sproul's workers, found no evidence of conspiracy by the company in that state, confirmed The BRAD BLOG's reporting on their deceptive registration technique, and sent Sproul scurrying to threaten us via email (posted below) with a lawsuit...for something...
Given the professed concerns about election fraud among Virginia Republicans, it seems somewhat astonishing that the man at the center of the Commonwealth's most notorious fraud scandal last year seems to be getting off the hook after initially being charged with 13 criminal counts including eight felony charges.
Colin Small, a Republican Party Voter Registration Supervisor who secretly tossed filled-out voter registration forms into a dumpster last year, had all of his felony charges dropped by the local Republican Commonwealth Attorney prosecuting the case yesterday.
Small was arrested and charged with 13 counts --- including destruction and disclosure of voter registrations, as well as obstruction of justice --- in Harrisonburg, VA in the run-up to the Presidential election last year, after he was seen by a local shopkeeper throwing away a bag of registration forms behind his store. Small's felony charges were all dropped on Tuesday, according to local Fox-affiliate WHSV.
The case had garnered a great deal of national attention last fall --- almost everywhere but on Fox "News" --- as it emerged at the pinnacle of an embarrassing nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal which plagued the Republican Party in the weeks just prior to the November general election.
The prosecutor on the Small case is Republican Marsha Garst. Unlike other Commonwealth Attorneys, observed a local Democratic-leaning political muckraker yesterday, Garst failed to recuse herself from the prosecution despite what would appear to be very clear conflicts of interests in the case.
The newly dropped charges appear in stark contrast to Garst's declarations last year, when told the Washington Post on the Friday before the Tuesday Presidential election that the matter was "a very important investigation to the state, and we intend to prosecute Mr. Small to the fullest extent"...
But it wasn't only the GOP superstars named above who attempted to game the system. Some of their gullible followers, who were distracted and conned into buying into the pretend "Democratic voter fraud" panic, decided to take matters into the their own hands by attempting to double-vote, claiming they were simply "testing the system".
Two different such cases in two different states led to voter fraud felony arrests last November. One of the cases, in Nevada, has now been settled with a guilty plea. The other appears to still be pending in New Mexico against a man who claims he thought his job as a Republican precinct challenger was to challenge the system itself...
A criminal investigation into voter registration fraud by a company hired by the Republican National Committee for some $3 million to sign up voters in at least five key battleground states this year is now widening, according to a new report by the Washington Post.
The reason for the expansion appears to relate to an overlooked aspect of the nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal highlighted initially by The BRAD BLOG some weeks ago.
Small had been hired by Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm created over the summer by Mitt Romney's paid political consultant and longtime GOP activist Nathan Sproul. Sproul has said the company was registered in Virginia, without his name on it, at the request of the RNC, due to myriad election registration fraud allegations in multiple states, in multiple elections, as long ago as 2004. An RNC spokesman has said he's unaware of the party's request, though Sproul has told The BRAD BLOG he stands by the claim. The issue resulted in a testy exchange with a Denver television reporter this week. (That video is posted at the end of this article.)
According to the Post, "state prosecutors canceled Colin Small’s grand jury testimony to gather more information, with their focus expanding to the firm that had employed Small, which is led by longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul."
"State authorities are seeking to learn whether any of Small’s supervisors instructed him or any of his 40 co-workers in Virginia to ask potential voters about their political leanings during registration drives," according to two unnamed sources cited by the paper. "Asking such questions could be a violation of state election law," WaPo reports.
Last month, in an investigative report by The BRAD BLOG, we highlighted video-taped and other evidence from half a dozen states, including Virginia, detailing how Sproul had trained his workers to misrepresent themselves as pollsters to potential registrants in order to determine their political leanings before offering to register them to vote. The ruse was meant as a way to register only Republican voters, while keeping Obama supporters from being able to register at all...
[UPDATE 10/24/12: Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will now be investigating after all, following a unanimous vote today of the State Board of Elections to refer the matter for a statewide criminal probe. Our concerns about Cuccinelli's conflicts of interest, as partially detailed below, still stand.]
Broader investigations are being sought, on a number of fronts, into the nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal including, finally, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Over the weekend, a Democratic state legislator in Virginia asked the state's Republican Attorney General to open a statewide probe, though AG Ken Cuccinelli has said he has no plans to carry one out. Given the photographs recently posted of Cuccinelli on Twitter (see below), that's probably a good thing.
On Monday, however, a number of Democratic U.S. Congress members from Virginia sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a nationwide investigation. Also, the three ranking Democrats of the U.S. House Judiciary, Elections and Oversight committees are pressing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for answers as to why his party hired a shady GOP operative with a long history of voter registration fraud allegations against him, and whether the RNC intends to truly cut ties with him, and his many companies working for Republicans across the country.
All of this comes on the heels of the GOP Voter Registration Scandal widening to Virginia last week, when 23-year old Colin Small was arrested and charged with 8 felonies and 5 misdemeanors after being seen allegedly dumping voter registration forms into a dumpster near a shopping mall in Harrisonburg.
Small, a Pennsylvania resident who claimed on his LinkedIn profile to be a "Grassroots Field Director" for the Republican National Committee, had been hired to do voter registration work by Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed this summer at the request of the RNC and headed by Nathan Sproul, a shady GOP operative and paid political consultant for Mitt Romney's campaign.
The firm was supposedly fired by the RNC late last month after hundreds of apparently fraudulent registration forms collected by the company on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida were discovered by election officials in some twelve counties in the Sunshine State. The RNC had reportedly paid Sproul's firm at least $3 million since August to carry out voter registration efforts in five battleground states, including VA, despite many years of allegations that his companies had destroyed Democratic registration forms in a number of states.
The arrest of Small revealed that the supposed firing was a deception, as Sproul's employees and Republican voter registration machine were kept in place, but run by local GOP officials and paid by PinPoint Staffing, one of the employment agencies Sproul tells The BRAD BLOG he had used in a number of states...
A man originally reported to have been working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by the Rockingham County, VA Sheriff's office on Thursday and charged with attempting to destroy voter registration forms by tossing them into a dumpster behind a shopping center in Harrisonburg, VA.
"Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice," according to a report late Thursday afternoon from TPM's Ryan Reilly. More charges could be forthcoming, according to officials.
But there is more to the story, as evidence emerges to document that it ties in to a still-expanding nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that The BRAD BLOG first began reporting in late September, after we'd learned that the Republican Party of Florida had turned in more than 100 allegedly fraudulent and otherwise suspect voter registration forms in Palm Beach County. The story has continued to widen ever since, to a dozen Florida counties and several other states, now including Virginia, and even to the upper-echelons of the Republican Party itself.
The man arrested today was 23-year old Colin Small of Phoenixville, PA. As it turns out, he does not only work for the VA Republican Party. According to an online profile, he appears to be working for the Republican National Committee and, prior to that, served as an Intern for Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He was first hired, says Tanfani, by Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm owned by the disgraced GOP operative and paid Mitt Romney political consultant, Nathan Sproul. Even before this year's registration fraud scandal which began with Strategic in Florida, Sproul's companies have long been accused of, though never charged with, destroying Democratic voter registrations in election after election and state after state, going back to at least 2004. Despite that, Sproul was hired by the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004, by the McCain/Palin Campaign in 2008, and by Romney during the Republican Primary cycle.
Sproul's company, Strategic Allied Consulting, was hired by the RNC in August for more than $3 million, reportedly as its sole voter registration company this cycle. His company was said to have been fired by the RNC and five different battleground state Republican parties several weeks ago, after fraudulent voter registrations began to emerge across Florida. Some of those questionable applications included address changes for existing voters, such that FL election officials told The BRAD BLOG they worry voters could find themselves disenfranchised come Election Day. In Florida, as in many states, provisional ballots cast at precincts other than where voters are officially registered will not be counted. So changing the addresses on voter registrations without voters' knowledge is a serious crime with potentially very serious consequences.
Reilly's report at TPM says that Small "worked for PinPoint, a company hired to register voters on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia." In fact, PinPoint Staffing placed ads to hire workers for Strategic Allied Consulting in FL, VA and a number of other states, though The BRAD BLOG has learned that the company removed many of those ads once the scandal began to break in FL. They have since modified some of their newer ads to hide their ties to the Republican Party.
In response to queries we sent to Sproul late Thursday, his crisis spokesperson, David Leibowitz, attempted to distance his client from the arrest of the Republican Party worker in Virginia, claiming that "the only connection between Sproul and Pinpoint is that Nathan has, on occasion, used Pinpoint to hire some workers."
It was PinPoint Staffing, in fact, which reportedly hired the man Strategic blamed for the fraudulent registration forms turned in originally in Palm Beach. But while PinPoint continues to seek workers for GOP-related efforts around the country, and as Sproul's operations continue in "as many as 30 states", it is the Republican National Committee's response to the entire affair, including to the arrest today, that may be the most troubling...
On Thursday, we reported that the companies of Nathan Sproul, the man at the center of the GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, are still at work for Republicans in some 10 states. That, despite previous claims by the RNC that they'd fired his company, Strategic Allied Consulting, after fraudulent registration forms the firm collected on behalf of the Florida GOP were discovered in 12 counties across the state late last month, and reports that employees of the company destroyed Democratic registration forms in other states.
The RNC, which had a $3 million contract with Sproul (a paid political consultant of Mitt Romney's), claimed they fired his company --- the one Sproul says he created at the RNC's request, due to his long reputation for having been accused of doing the same thing in elections going back to 2004 --- because they had a "zero tolerance" policy for those involved in election fraud. Nonetheless, as detailed yesterday, several other companies of his, including one, Issue Advocacy Partners, with a nearly identical website to Strategic Allied Consulting, was found to be still operating in a whole bunch of states.
We had identified 10 such states in yesterday's report: Alabama, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia (with former Sproul associates reportedly at work in Ohio.)
Questions continue to grow about Nathan Sproul and his various companies' multi-million dollar work for the Republican National Committee, despite claims that they've broken ties with him on the heels of a nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal. A virtual clone of his discredited Strategic Allied Consulting firm appears to still be operating on behalf of Republicans in at least 10 states.
At the same time, Democrats in Congress are now asking for official answers from both Sproul and very senior Republicans, according to new letters obtained by The BRAD BLOG.
Sproul went on the record with us, briefly, to address some of these issues in his own defense, before he was ordered by his newly hired crisis response manager to stop speaking to us all together.
When the RNC invested $3 million to hire Strategic Allied Consulting, a company quietly created this August by Sproul, a paid political consultant to Mitt Romney, and then instructed state GOP affiliates in seven key battleground states (FL, NC, VA, NV, CO, WI and OH) to do the same, they knew very well about his companies' long documented history of alleged electoral misconduct and voter registration fraud.
The longtime GOP operative's voter registration and "Get Out the Vote" firms have been accused, during election after election, of destroying and altering Democratic voter registration forms, though no formal charges have ever been filed against him, despite repeated urging from high-ranking members of Congress and others. Sproul's long track record of improprieties was bad enough that before they would give him the contract as their national voter registration group this year, according to Sproul himself, the RNC "asked us to do it with a different company name."
Subsequently, Strategic Allied Consulting is alleged to have collected fraudulent voter registration forms. Some of those forms had the addresses of existing Democratic voters changed so that some of Florida's county election officials now worry that voters could be disenfranchised when they go to the polls this November and find they're no longer registered at their old precinct, or even in the same county. The fraudulent forms were collected by Strategic and submitted by the Florida GOP (which paid Sproul's firm some $1.3 million for voter registration work, their largest single expenditure in the 2012 cycle) in at least 12 different FL counties.
When the RNC then publicly claimed to have "fired" Sproul's new company, after the fraudulent forms came to light, it's likely that the RNC also knew full well that many of their state GOP affiliate organizations were still quietly employing Sproul's firms for partisan work in a number of other states.
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer played dumb about having asked Sproul to create the firm without his name on it --- "To my knowledge, no one requested that" --- though Sproul told The BRAD BLOG during an on the record conversation, eventually aborted by his recently hired crisis manager David Liebowitz, that he stands by his assertion.
"I'm not going to comment on this further," Sproul told us when we'd asked for specifics, since the RNC appeared to be calling him a liar, "but I'm not retracting my prior comments either."
Perhaps even more disturbing is the evidence suggesting that his companies are still operating in states around the country under different names. That, despite the RNC's claims to have "severed our relationship" with Sproul, and the assertion that they "acted swiftly and boldly" to cut ties with the group only after the allegedly fraudulent registration forms came to light in Florida (and as Democratic registration forms were also alleged to have been destroyed by Strategic workers in other states, such as Colorado and Nevada.)
When we asked Sproul directly: "Do your other companies still work for the RNC or other state or local parties?", his response came back as a blunt, "No."
In a response to a follow-up query, when we asked Sproul to explain evidence suggesting that his companies were, in fact, still operating elsewhere on behalf of Republicans, he walked back his original denial a bit.
"I know you have additional questions, including many about SAC [Strategic Allied Consulting] and its affiliates and work we've done in other places and for other clients," Sproul said. "Those questions fall either outside the bounds of what I can discuss or outside the bounds of where I'm comfortable going in this story. I hope you'll understand."
And yet, as still more evidence is emerging to show that Sproul may have been less than forthcoming in some of his responses to The BRAD BLOG (he has refused to respond to additional, specific follow-up queries on this emerging evidence, after Liebowitz was brought on board as his crisis spokesperson), Congressional Democrats have similar questions about Sproul's work with the GOP and if it may be continuing even now.
Senior Democratic members of the U.S. House Elections, Judiciary and Oversight Committees seeking answers --- from Sproul, RNC Chair Reince Priebus, as well as GOP heavies Karl Rove and former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (now a senior adviser to Romney) who founded one of the top Republican Super PACs and paid Sproul some $750,000 for unspecified work --- about what Sproul's operations may still be up to, despite the RNC's recent public, if unsupported, claim of a "zero tolerance" policy for election fraud and those who practice it...
Fox "News" has finally decided to cover the widening GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal. Sort of. Barely. And they've decided to include me in their coverage.
It took more than a week, and it was becoming embarrassing that they hadn't said a word about the national scandal rocking the Republican National Committee, so they had to say something because, ya know, "Fair and Balanced" and all.
I was interviewed by their "voter fraud" correspondent Eric Shawn late last week for use on Thursday night's Special Report with Bret Baier. He ended up running lengthier excerpts from the interview the following day on of their afternoon shows.
The video of both packages are posted in full below.
We recently offered a very few, long overdue words about Colorado's embarrassingly bad, incredibly partisan, anti-democratic and anti-Democratic, wingnut Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R), when, as the state's chief election official, he made a fool of himself with an attempted-then-aborted purge of "non-citizen" voters who, to Gessler's inconvenience, turned out to not be "non-citizens".
It's not altogether surprising. The state is developing a rich history of cringe-inducing Secretaries of State.
The previous wingnut to hold the job, who is now, even more embarrassingly, U.S. House Rep. Mike Coffman (R), recently revealed his own confusion about which Americans are citizens and which are not, when he told the crowd at a fundraiser last May: "I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."
Moving beyond the two most recent CO Secretaries of State's embarrassing paranoia of alien invasion, Gessler isn't done shaming the great state of Colorado with conspiracy theories, not by a long shot, as displayed at a wingnut "voter fraud" conference late last week in Denver. That, even as he has, publicly at least, completely ignored what now appears to be an actual criminal conspiracy, with actual evidence, concerning actual voter registration fraud (albeit by a Republican outfit, so perhaps it doesn't count), acknowledged by his own office to be officially under criminal investigation by prosecutors in his state...
An official criminal probe has been launched into the GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal we first reported just over one week ago. The investigation, confirmed by Reuters tonight, comes on the heels of an election fraud complaint filed on Friday by the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) after an initial batch of more than 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration applications were discovered in Palm Beach County. The forms had been submitted to the county by the RPOF after being collected by employees of Strategic Allied Consulting, a group hired by the party and headed by Mitt Romney's paid political consultant and controversial longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul.
The announcement of a criminal investigation comes on the day after state officials sent an email, obtained by The BRAD BLOG, informing county election officials to sequester hundreds of potentially fraudulent registration forms which may be needed as "evidence" in court proceedings.
Tonight, Reuters is reporting that officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirm that they have "found enough evidence to warrant a full-blown investigation" of Strategic Allied Consulting.
Since the emergence of the initial batch of irregular GOP voter registrations early last week, similarly fraudulent forms have reportedly discovered in some 12 Florida counties. During our exclusive interview with Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher last Wednesday, she told us some of the forms her office first discovered included suspicious address changes, "sometimes to commercial buildings or addresses", which could result in voters becoming disenfranchised when they go to the polls on November 6th.
The confirmation of a criminal investigation buttresses information we mentioned yesterday during our appearance on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture TV program, about an email sent by Florida's Dept. of State to all county election officials on Tuesday. (The email is posted in full below.) The missive advises county Supervisors of Elections to sequester all questionable voter registration applications they have discovered since the scandal emerged, as they "may become evidence used in court, so it is important for you to take steps to protect them from tampering"...
I had a lot to pack in to about 4 minutes on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture TV show last night, but I did my best, including a tasty new morsel on Florida's criminal investigation into the GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that I was able to obtain just before air, and which I haven't yet broken elsewhere...
As referenced in the video above:
More on the nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal here...
More on the polling place Photo ID restriction ruling in PA yesterday here...
More on the story Thom mentioned about Romney investors tied to voting machine company Hart Intercivic, here...
And more, if you've yet to read it, on the coordinated, systematic, nationwide GOP Voter Registration Scam to lie to potential registrants in hopes of keeping Obama supporters from even being able to register to vote this year, here...
By the way, while I try to include the following tag below when posting our Election Integrity stories, I usually get few takers. Your support this time of year is crucial, as I simply don't have much time for fund raising at all, or even for selling stories elsewhere (which sometimes helps to cover some of the expenses we have here). I'd rather be reporting, than fund raising, especially now. So anything you can do to hit the tip jar below is greatly appreciated! I do hate asking, but I have to. So my great thanks in advance!