Given disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restriction laws Republicans have enacted in nearly a dozen states over the past year, you'd think there was an epidemic of Democratic "voter fraud" in this nation. That's certainly the way the GOP has framed it, fooled the corporate mainstream media into reporting it, and even scammed the White House and Congressional Democrats into going along with it when they signed legislation that defunded ACORN, a four-decade old community organization never found to have committed voter fraud, or even helped to see a single fraudulent vote cast in any election anywhere.
As it turns out, not only is there no such epidemic of Democratic voter fraud, but the opposite is true. Over the past year, very high profile Republicans --- including this year's presumed standard bearer, Mitt Romney; the Sec. of State of Indiana (the first state to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions) Charlie White; one time GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich; MO's new GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate Todd Akin; and the group hired by the Sacramento, CA Republican Party to collect voter registrations this year for Rep. Dan Lungren; among others (all detailed below) --- have each been revealed as having committed or participated in election fraud --- both voter registration fraud and actual voter fraud --- in state after state.
One might even call it "an epidemic". Or, if you prefer, "one of the greatest frauds in voter history, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," as then GOP Presidential nominee John McCain described what Republicans pretended ACORN was doing back in 2008 (just before it was revealed he had previously been the group's keynote speaker where he told ACORN's members they were "what makes America special.")
So really, should we be surprised to learn that four aides to former long-shot GOP Presidential candidate and U.S. House Rep. Thaddeus McCotter --- Representative of the state's 11th and one of its most Republican districts --- were indicted yesterday on dozens of criminal felony and misdemeanor election fraud charges for having turned in over 1,500 forged and falsified signatures in a "blatant" and "disgraceful" attempt, as the state's Republican AG described it, to qualify the Congressman for this year's ballot?...
The charges were filed yesterday by MI Attorney General Bill Schuette against McCotter staffers Don Yowchuang, Paul Seewald, Mary Melissa Turnbull and Lorianne O'Brady. According to the Detroit Free Press, "Most of the charges were filed against McCotter's Deputy District Director Don Yowchuang and District Director Paul Seewald. Yowchuang faces 17 charges — 11 felonies and six misdemeanors — and Seewald 10 — one felony and nine misdemeanors."
In all, the four were indicted on 12 felony and 21 misdemeanor election fraud-related charges.
The investigators' report [PDF], details each of the hundreds of fraudulent signatures and petitions submitted by the four aides and, as they described, "revealed that the petition collection efforts were carried out by a dysfunctional congressional staff that had completely lost its moral compass."
The investigators found that the Republican "Staffers function in a culture completely indifferent to the requirements of law, and with the arrogant attitude that the rules simply did not apply to them."
Though "fraudulent nominating petitions were submitted for the 2012 elections cycle," the report concluded, "perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that evidence indicates similar fraudulent petitions schemes were used in prior elections."
After the fraudulent signatures were discovered, there were not enough left for McCotter to qualify for this years ballot. Amazingly, just 1,000 valid signatures were needed. After the fraudulent ones were tossed, just 244 were left.
McCotter himself was not indicted, though, according to The Detroit News, the state AG described him as "asleep at the switch," failing to oversee his own staff, and called his conduct "disgraceful".
When the Republican election fraud was first revealed, McCotter suggested he would run as a write-in candidate. Instead, he resigned from the U.S. House suddenly last month and announced he would not be seeking re-election. At the same time, as The BRAD BLOG detailed yesterday, Michigan's extraordinary partisan Republican Sec. of State Ruth Johnson, has been continuing her witch hunt against "non-citizen" voter fraud criminals, even if the effort keeps legitimate citizen voters from voting and/or having their ballots counted.
As Steven Rosenfeld noted at Alternet, in covering the felony indictments of McCotter's staffers, "A Republican congressman and his 'dysfunctional' staffers are now Exhibit A for election fraud in Michigan. There is not a single Democrat involved."
With each new case of high-profile Republican Election Fraud that has emerged over the past year or so, we've tried to summarize the most notable. Here then, as a public service, is a quick round-up of many (but by no means all!) of the high profile cases, most of which --- ironically enough, and unlike imaginary cases of "Democratic voter fraud" --- you probably have not have even heard about...
• MITT ROMNEY: Last Summer, long-shot GOP candidate Fred Karger filed a complaint with Massachusetts officials charging that the now presumptive GOP nominee for President of the United was illegally registered to vote in his son's unfinished basement in Belmont, MA, despite having moved out of the state several years earlier. The release of Romney's 2010 federal tax returns did little to dispel the concern. Romney failed to include his state returns in his release (or those from 2009) which would likely show, as Karger detailed, Romney was not a resident of Massachusetts at the time he voted for Scott Brown in the January 2010 U.S. Senate special election to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Romney, who had houses in CA and NH, did not, in fact, own a house in MA until July of 2010 (in anticipation of another Presidential run), despite the fact that state law defines residency as "where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life." Residents in Belmont, MA, told Karger that neither he nor his wife had been seen in the town since selling their mansion and moving out of state years earlier.
• INDIANA SEC. OF STATE CHARLIE WHITE: In February, White was tossed out of office after being declared guilty of three voter fraud felonies, having been found by a jury to have registered and voted from a residence where he did not actually live. (The same thing that Romney appears to have done, as noted above.) Prior to that, in a separate civil case, White was ordered immediately removed from office by a circuit court judge who found that his fraudulent registration made him ineligible to be on the ballot when he was elected in 2010 in the first place. Ironically enough, Indiana was the very first state in the nation, in 2008, to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, despite being unable to cite a single instance of in-person voter fraud in state history. Those restrictions, however, failed to keep White himself, the state's top election official, from committing voter fraud.
• NEWT GINGRICH: In January, in an exclusive at The BRAD BLOG, we confirmed the Virginia State Attorney General was officially investigating some 1,500 incidents of ballot petition fraud by the Newt Gingrich campaign related to the former U.S. House Speaker's failed attempt to qualify for the GOP Presidential Primary Election in his own home state. The fraud appears to have been identical to what McCotter's staffers have now been charged with in Michigan, as explained in the article above. Gingrich was video-taped late last year by CNN claiming to a supporter in Iowa, after failing to qualify for the ballot with 10,000 valid signatures: "We turned in 11,100 --- we needed 10,000 --- 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud." That, while Gingrich had joined with fellow Republicans over the years in falsely charging the community group ACORN with similar crimes. In fact, what Gingrich's campaign did in Virginia, if his own admission is accurate, appears far worse than anything ACORN has ever done. They had actually been the ones, in most cases, to have identified the fraud by a handful of their workers when verifying the validity of voter registrations before turning them all in --- as required by law --- to officials. Gingrich, on the other hand, appears to have either failed to validate signatures before turning them or, unlike ACORN, appears to have failed to turn in the guilty parties to law enforcement once the fraud was discovered.
UPDATE 4/5/2012: Gingrich campaign worker pleads guilty to felony charges of fraud and perjury after having submitted 400 fakes signatures. Her co-defendant still faces 42 criminal counts. Prosecutors say the "investigation is still active, and may result in additional arrests". Full details here...
• SACRAMENTO, CA REPUBLICAN PARTY: In May of this year, it was discovered that Momentum Political Services, hired by the Sacramento GOP to carry out their voter registration campaign for Rep. Dan Lungren, had turned in thousands of fraudulent voter registrations. It was the same thing Republicans claim ACORN did, though in their case, it was ACORN who notified officials about the fraudulent signatures. In this case, it was the actual organization led by a "professional con artist" and hired by the GOP, who carried out a $50,000 "bounty" scheme for Republican-only registrations. The scheme was very similar, if not identical, to the one carried out by Young Political Majors in 2008, when the state Republican Party hired the group for their registration campaign that year. In that case, the head of Young Political Majors ended up pleading guilty to voter registration fraud convictions, after being arrested just prior to the 2008 Presidential election, when the GOP and Fox "News" and John McCain were telling you, 24/7, that there was an ACORN "voter fraud" epidemic occuring. (There wasn't.)
• SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: Last February, the long-serving Senator from Indiana was accused of doing exactly what his state's Sec. of State Charlie White was tossed out of office for --- not living at the address where he was registered to vote. In this case, the allegations came from Tea Party supporters of Richard Mourdock who defeated the popular Lugar to become this year's U.S. Senate nominee. They charged that Lugar had been registered at a house where he had not lived since 1977. As in White's case, Indiana's First-in-the-Nation polling place Photo ID law failed deter any fraudulent voting by the erstwhile Senator.
• REP. TODD AKIN: Speaking of U.S. Senate candidates, the one nominated earlier this week by the Missouri Republican Party to face Claire McCaskill this November has, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year, been voting for years from a property outside of his own Congressional district where he does not live. The charges echoes those against Romney, Lugar and White. Akin's house, as the paper found at the time, was vacant and long-scheduled for suburban re-development. Still, the Congressman has continued to use it as his voting address for some seven elections, ever since the time that he and his family moved to their new house in a different town some 18 miles away.
• JON HUNTSMAN: In March of 2011, the then GOP Presidential hopeful was also identified as possibly having committed voter fraud. In his case, the former Governor remained registered to vote at the Executive Mansion in Utah well over a year after he had become the U.S. ambassador to China. As the Salt Lake Tribune noted at the time: "Huntsman voted by absentee ballot for last year’s general election using the state-owned mansion on South Temple as his Utah residence — months after Gov. Gary Herbert settled into the historic building and Huntsman purchased a home in Washington, D.C."
• JAMES O'KEEFE: In a ham-handed attempt to try and demonstrate that polling place voter fraud exists in New Hampshire, despite election officials' assertions to the contrary, the GOP propagandist and federally convicted criminal led a video-taped conspiracy to commit polling place voter fraud during the state's "First-in-the-Nation" Primary in January. A Republican Mayor in the Granite State called for O'Keefe and his co-conspirators to be "arrested and prosecuted". A petition with more than 100,000 signatures was submitted earlier this year to the state Attorney General calling for an investigation of O'Keefe on charges of voter fraud.
• CHARLIE WEBSTER: In what appears to have been an attempt at massive election fraud, the Chairman of the Maine Republican Party, publicly announced Mitt Romney as the winner of the 2012 GOP Caucuses there, by just 194 votes, long before hundreds of voters in two different counties had even met to vote. At the same time, dozens of towns which had already held caucuses were fraudulently reported by the party as having had no voters at all. Several months earlier, Webster had named hundreds of legal students voters as having committed voter fraud, when they hadn't. An investigation by the Republican Sec. of State in Maine found they were, in fact, legal voters, though he, nonetheless, sent them threatening letters in apparent hopes of intimidating them from casting their legal votes in Maine in the future.
• RICK SANTORUM SUPPORTERS: In an amusing turn of events in January, religious Republican supporters of Newt Gingrich charged that religious Republican supporters of GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum rigged an informal election during a secret meeting near Austin. The confab had been called in an attempt by "religious conservative leaders" to coalesce their support around a single GOP alternative to Mitt Romney at the time. The attempt appears to have failed.
• Among many other recent cases of high-profile GOP voter fraud taking place prior to the past year, please remember (since the media didn't much tell you about them in the first place): GOP superstar ANN COULTER'S multiple cases of demonstrated voter fraud (in both FL and CT), and the 156-year sentences being served now by 8 TOP ELECTION OFFICIALS in Clay County, KY --- including the County Clerk, a Circuit Court Judge and the School Superintendent --- where they had conspired to change the votes of voters on electronic voting systems at the polling place.
Not a single one of the above detailed cases of election fraud --- both voter registration fraud and voter fraud alike --- would have been deterred or prevented by the disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions Republicans are attempting to institute in at least a dozen states across the country prior to the 2012 Presidential election...even as the epidemic of election fraud by top GOP officials continues unabated.