Gessler should investigate GOP voter activities in Colorado

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler took office with a determination to root out the voter fraud he believed was partly responsible for Democratic political victories.

Thousands of names of people registered to vote in Colorado, he asserted, were fraudulent. This number decreased substantially over time until, eventually, 4,000 letters were sent to registered voters asking them to prove their citizenship.

In the end, 482 people presented proof of citizenship, and 90 percent of the suspect names were confirmed as citizens by a federal data base.

Gessler still planned to challenge 141 names, but instead he turned them over to county clerks to verify, pleading a lack of time.

The irony is that, while Gessler was thrashing about like Inspector Closeau, looking for suspected fraudulent voters — mostly Democrats — real voter fraud was taking place beneath his nose.

Last Friday, Denver Fox31 News aired a video of a young woman in Denver paid to register voters by Strategic Allied Consultants, know as SAC. She said her orders were to register only people committed to voting for Mitt Romney.

SAC was under contract to the Colorado Republican Party to register voters and organize get-out-the-vote activities. Colorado was one of five swing states SAC was operating in, including Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada.

Late last week, massive voter fraud was reported in Florida. Under contract to both the Republican National Committee and the Florida GOP, SAC voter registration canvassers were found to have registered hundreds of bogus Republican voters. It’s also possible that Democratic registrations may have been destroyed.

The RNC moved quickly, terminating its contract with SAC, and advising state parties to do the same. The Colorado GOP fired SAC.

Announcing the termination of the Colorado contract, state GOP spokesman Justin Miller blamed “an alleged incident by an employee of Strategic Allied Consultants outside Colorado” for the termination of the contract.

Perhaps Miller was unaware of the Fox31 video showing similar activities by SAC in Colorado, but Gessler should not have been. The company required a permit from the Secretary of State’s office to operate a voter drive.

Though SAC was only founded last June, it was a front company for well-known Arizona Republican consultant, Nathan Sproul.

Writing in The Nation, Lee Fang said, Sproul “is infamous for accusations that his firms have committed fraud by tampering with Democratic voter registration forms and suppressing votes.”

According to a 2002 Salon report, “several former employees, elections officials and others across the country who’ve had dealings with (Sproul & Associates) have revealed ...  Sproul’s methods for boosting GOP registration in key swing states. The accounts allege that Sproul’s workers were encouraged to lie, cheat and, according to Eric Russell, a former Sproul employee in Las Vegas who first told his story to a local television station last week, even destroy the registration forms of Democrats who’d registered to vote with Sproul canvassers.”

Sproul has denied the charges. But, the Salon article said, “Taken together, the stories are compelling, and they may provide an early glimpse into the kinds of shady tactics Republicans are using to win at the polls this year ...”

Since the RNC and state parties have contracted with Sproul’s companies for a decade, it’s surprising that Gessler, with his sharp nose for voter fraud by Democrats, was not suspicious when Sproul’s SAC set up shop in Colorado.

From the video of the young woman rejecting potential Democratic voters, we know state election laws were broken in at least one instance.

What we don’t know is the extent of the SAC operation in Colorado. When challenged, Sproul always blames registration problems on a few bad apples trying to rip off him and the system.

Despite repeated calls for an investigation of Sproul by congressional Democrats, no hearing has ever been held.

It is unlikely any investigation will come from Gessler, but Colorado voters should demand to know the full extent of Sproul’s involvement in the Colorado registration and election process.

If no further action is taken by Gessler to investigate Sproul’s activities in Colorado, Democrats in the new Legislature should press for an independent investigation of SAC and Sproul.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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