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Yesterday, I posted this diary about possible ballot petition fraud going on in Santa Barbara, California related to the Electoral College Initiative that seeks to split California's electoral votes by congressional district:

There have been some developments, so I've decided to post an update.

After I had gotten the initial word out about this, I got a call from the reporter at the Daily Nexus (UC Santa Barbara's student newspaper) about what had happened, and then a second call, and then I sat down for an interview.

So here's what I learned: when the reporter went herself and asked a bunch of questions, the petition gatherers actually described the titles of the three other initiatives. However, when she sent more reporters to "play dumb" and not ask any questions, the petition gatherers said nothing. Hence, the push to get people to sign ballot initiatives they're unaware of seems to be operating on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis.

When they sent yet another reporter to directly interview these petition gatherers, the gatherers got rather close-mouthed, wouldn't give their names for the record, etc. But they did say that they were working for "APC" and gave a website for their company.

APC turns out to be Arno Political Consultants, a well-established conservative petition group founded by Mike Arno in 1979. Some of their  former and current clients include Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Procter & Gamble, Kodak, Occidental Petroleum, Mobil Oil, AT&T, and America Online.

This petition firm has a long history of getting involved in similarly unethical behavior, such as:

- tricking college kids into registering as Republicans in Florida.

- telling California voters that the Electoral College Initiative was actually an anti-war ballot initiative.

- telling Massachusetts voters that an anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative was actually an initiative to allow selling wine in grocery stores

Most importantly, APD has been hired by David Gilliard, Ed Rollins, and Anne Dunsmore, the proponents of the Electoral College Initiative.

As for who those pleasant people are:


So, what's the conclusion here?

One, I don't know if APC tells its workers to commit fraud or doesn't. All I can say is that they have done this kind of thing in the very recent past.

Two, this is not an issue of some third-party or fourth-party signature gatherers who don't know who they're working for, and who are unknown to the proponents of the initiative. These people know they're working for APC, and APC has been hired by the proponents of the petition.

Three, given the fact that they seem to have a consistent policy of not telling people what they're signing if they don't ask, I don't think this is accidental.

Originally posted to Vikingkingq on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 05:12 PM PST.

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