How’d you like to find out that when you thought you were signing a petition to register sex offenders or get lower gas prices, you’d actually had your political party switched from Democrat to Republican? That’s happening in California, again. Yes, again. This is a reoccurring problem for the Republican Party every election cycle. It’s what’s known as a “bounty hunt” – paid voter registration drives that lead to accusations of massive fraud.
This time it’s Momentum Political Service in Sacramento, California, turning in thousands of invalid voter registration applications according to Sacramento County election officials. Over 3,100 voter registration cards have been turned over to the Secretary of State’s election fraud investigation unit.
Watch here via News 10, which first broke the story:
Naturally Monica Harris, the owner of Momentum Political Services, isn’t speaking on camera per the advice of her lawyer, but she is suggesting that these accusations are (sing it with me before you scream ACORN), “politically motivated.” She claims she’s had to fire people (translation: “a few bad apples”), after it came out that she’d hired people with criminal backgrounds.
Harris says, “It’s just not the standard in the industry” to do background checks. Ah. But, but, but… ACORN.
Contrast that with the Republicans screaming about one Mickey Mouse who was never actually registered to vote, and whose party affiliation was not changed on him.
News 10 reported:
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…
But a number of what election experts refer to as “bad” registration cards – ones that, for one reason or another, are invalid – have also been submitted during the drive. 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.
You may have missed the long, sordid history the Republican Party has with voter registration fraud, but I’ll bet you know all about ACORN. You can’t turn on the news without still hearing about ACORN, which advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration and affordable housing.
ACORN was never found guilty of leading to ONE fraudulent vote. Not one. Furthermore, ACORN was never hired by the Democratic Party to do voter registration and the Obama campaign did its own voter registration, rather than hire it out. Notably, the 2008 Obama campaign did not pay their volunteers, let alone pay per voter registration form.
However, the organizations hired by Republicans do pay per form, as did ACORN, although ACORN was a non-profit organization whereas the outlets hired by Republicans are for profit. This has led to massive voter registration fraud, described as “organized crime” and “bounty hunts.”
Brad Friedman points out that while protesting a bit too much, John McCain called ACORN the “greatest frauds in voter history.” That was when he was running for President in 2008, and after he had earlier praised ACORN.
It was also the same time period when McCain’s campaign hired a known fraudster to do voter registration in California. Prior to being hired by McCain, “Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit.”
Naturally, this fraudster once again committed voter massive registration fraud in 2008 and was arrested for for two felony counts and perjury. He pleaded guilty to voter registration fraud in 2009.
Here’s a timeline (read The Brad Blog for extensive breakdown):
2004: Tricking Democrats into registering as Republicans
California: Republican firm Sproul & Associates charged with shredding Democratic voter registrations and tricking Democrats and Independents into registering as Republicans. Nathan Sproul also accused of suppressing Democratic voter turnout, and working to get Ralph Nader on ballots.
Arizona, Florida: Mark Anthony Jacoby of Young Political Majors (YPM), who also ran JSM LLC with Jenny Breslin, who herself was the subject of a criminal investigation in Ohio for voter registration fraud for turning in registrations with forged signatures (she was never charged), faced charges of serious impropriety in Arizona and Florida for trashing Democratic voter registrations and switching party registrations on an estimated 4,000 students from Democrat to Republican. Once again, the “petition” drive regarding sex offenders was used. Jacoby was investigated but never charged.
The St Petersburg Times reported:
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating and Secretary of State Glenda Hood has urged students to call election offices before they vote.
The prime suspect is a group hired by the National Republican Committee to register voters.
A petition gather turned whistle-blower (not the same thing as a plant dressed as s pimp and selectively editing video) called what went down in Arizona “organized crime” , “In my opinion, this is organized crime. I will go on the record and say that, because that’s what it is.” (These are very similar tactics as those being deployed currently in California.)
Tens of thousands of voter registrations were thrown in the trash, and voters told they were signing petition for cheaper gas but in reality, they were signing a petition to put Ralph Nader on the ballot. The Phoenix New Times reported:
“On a scale of one to 10 on the Richter scale of Arizona history, this is a 9.5,” says local political consultant Jason Rose, who’s not directly involved in this year’s initiative process. “There is going to be massive fallout.”
… Everybody in town seems to have used YPM LLC, a Florida-based company owned by Mark Jacoby. And Jacoby’s group is at the center of Jack Bickley’s most damning allegations. (Jacoby, who has left town, did not return calls for comment by press time.)
Bickley says that Jacoby encouraged, and even expected, behavior that could well be criminal under Arizona statutes.
2005: The Phoenix New Times reported:
In Massachusetts in 2005, a college student told the Associated Press that Jacoby trained her in bait-and-switch techniques, including telling people they were signing for one petition while their signatures were actually captured for two. “The fraud was looked upon as a game,” the student said.
2006: Again using sex offenders as their bait and hook scheme, Republicans turned in nearly 3,000 invalid registration forms. The LA Times reported:
County voting officials said they found problems with many of the nearly 3,000 registration forms submitted by the company, including 1,800 that lacked voters’ driver’s license numbers or other official forms of identification, which were required by a state law this year.
The district attorney’s office is also investigating whether the same political firm, John Burkett Petition Management of Riverside, was responsible for the large number of signatures declared invalid in a recent petition drive in Rialto, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Frank Vanella.
2008: McCain/Palin hire Sproul for voter registration drives in California (see 2004). Only, this time, clever Republicans!- Sproul had changed the name of his company. He was now going under Lincoln Strategy. The Republican Party also hires Young Political Majors, operated by Mark Antony Jacoby (see above), who ended up pleading guilty to voter registration fraud for 2008 activities.
The Young Political Majors’ investigation and arrest was going on during the conservative ACORN outrage tour of 2009. Once again, the conservative media managed to completely grab the narrative and distract reporters from the real news of their own voter fraud, while implicating and defunding a legitimate, non-profit agency (not without its problems, but certainly nowhere on par with the underworld ugliness of Republican voter registration drives) in the process. Well done, media.
Republicans have the conservative blogosphere to amplify and give “credence” to their claims, so that Fox News can then report it and the next thing you know, mainstream news outlets are carrying Republican water. So, ACORN has been defunded while Republican Voter ID laws have been passed around the country based on scurrilous and unproven charges of voter fraud, assisted by James O’Keefe and his band of criminal activists. Yet Republicans keep hiring known fraudsters for their own voter registration drives.
Yes, charges coming from a known criminal will be picked up by the media and ran with, but charges against the California Republicans (repeated charges, I might add) are ignored. Even PolitFact found that the only charges that impacted voters were the students registered as Republicans falsely.
Misrepresentation, fraud, and trashing Democratic voter registrations – you’d think that would make the news, especially when it was proven to be a systemic problem far outweighing anything ACORN ever did. In fact, ACORN was cleared of charges by various Attorney Generals, who found that it had, in fact, not engaged in criminal activities and that the organization had managed its federal funding appropriately.
I worked on the Obama campaign’s 2008 voter registration drive, and I happily registered Republicans and Democrats, because that’s what a patriot does. A patriot recognizes the right and moral obligation of every citizen to vote. A patriot does not switch party registrations on unsuspecting voters (one reason Republicans keep doing this every year is they use those numbers to raise money, knowing that those folks aren’t really Republicans). A patriotic party does not repeatedly hire known fraudsters to do their for profit voter registration, and a patriotic party does not vilify a non-profit voter registration organization that helps poor people register to vote.
A party of any consistent values does not knowingly, repeatedly hire companies investigated for massive voter registration fraud and then turn around and blame illegal immigrants for unproven voter fraud, while denying legal citizens the right to vote via Voter ID laws that do not pass the Voting Rights Act smell test. Yes, for profit voter registration and petition firms work for all kinds of outlets, including civil rights organizations. But it is Republicans who have hired them for voter registration drives, not President Obama.
Is my title hyperbolic? I guess that depends upon how important you think the right to vote is. What exactly will it take to get the attention of the MSM — shall we videotape ourselves playing dress up as a pimp and prostitute?
ACORN? Try systemic voter registration fraud, courtesy of the Republican Party.
NPR, The Nation, The Brad Blog – recommend his archives as well, LA Times, The Phoenix New Times, St Petersburg Times, The Daily Kos, 2010 PDF Report of the Attorney General on ACORN, LA Times original report on YPM.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.