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An effort by Republicans to register voters with paid workers is underway in North Carolina and across the nation. In the past month various ads have appeared on Craigslist, Facebook and other online job listings offering amounts from $11 to $13 per hour (and in some cases internship credit) to help Republicans and Mitt Romney win in November by identifying conservatives and registering them as voters. The operation is linked to an Arizona company with a history of fraud allegations including the destruction of Democratic registration cards.

The operation appears to be run by a company called Strategic Allied Consulting, LLC, on behalf of state Republican Parties. The company was set up in Virginia in June 2012 and filings with the Virginia Secretary of State reveal no identifying information other than that of a corporate filing service. Campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission show that the NC Republican Party federal fund paid $333,267.50 to Strategic Allied Consulting in July.

Text in some of the ads refers to Strategic Allied Consulting. There is evidence that similar operations are being conducted in Colorado, Florida and, Virginia on behalf of the Republican Party. There is no evidence of business registration in either North Carolina, Colorado, or Florida (or Arizona).

Strategic Allied Consulting, LLC, has set up a generic one-page web presence. The ambiguous text reveals nothing about the nature of the operation. The domain name is being used for email addresses by voter registration operatives in Florida. The domain name is registered to Sproul & Associates in Tempe, Arizona, a company founded by Nathan Sproul, former director of the Arizona GOP and the state’s Christian Coalition.

A 2005 article in the Baltimore Chronicle suggests that the RNC and Bush campaign took steps to obscure over $8 million it paid Sproul for voter registration operations in 2004.

Sproul got into a bit of trouble last fall when, in certain states, it came out that the firm was playing dirty tricks in order to suppress the Democratic vote: concealing their partisan agenda, tricking Democrats into registering as Republicans, surreptitiously re-registering Democrats and Independents as Republicans, and shredding Democratic registration forms.
Sproul’s 2004 operation included the registration of Nader voters as spoilers. In 2008 Sam Stein at Huffington Post reported that:
John McCain’s campaign has directed $175,000 to the firm of a Republican operative accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states.

According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of “registering voters.” The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket.

According to a June 2012 post by Lee Fang at the Republic Report Mitt Romney had made payments in 2011 to Sproul’s Lincoln Strategy Group.
Late last year, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign began paying Nathan Sproul, a political consultant with a long history of destroying Democratic voter registration forms and manipulating ballot initiatives. Sproul, who changed his firm’s name from Sproul and Associates to Lincoln Strategies, has received over $70,000 from Romney’s campaign. Much of the campaign coverage has focused on the rhetoric of surrogates and the role of high-priced television advertisements. But if Sproul continues to play a role in the campaign, and if his previous work is any guide, his firm may have an impact on key swing states.
The article references coverage by Think Progress of Sproul’s company’s involvement in astroturf operations on behalf of the coal industry that included forged letters on stolen letterhead.
Even former Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), during a hearing on voter fraud, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”
For all the talk about voter fraud, Republicans are still apparently willing to engage in activities with proven potential for abuse. Even the 2012 GOP Platform passed in Tampa opposes mail-in absentee ballots:
When ballots are mailed to every registered voter, ballots can be stolen or fraudulently voted by unauthorized individuals because the system does not have a way to verify the identity of the voter.
Yet here in NC, Americans For Prosperity is promoting and organizing absentee mail-in ballot request even to the point of receiving and forwarding individual ballot requests. AFP’s intervention in the mail-in ballot request is technically legal but AFP’s intervention in the process has the potential for abuse. There will be no way to know if unfriendly ballot requests make their way into the “round file”.

It’s not even Labor Day and it already looks like the 2012 election will be as messy and dirty as any general election has ever been.

 
 

An expanded version of this post first appeared at BlueNC.com

Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:49 AM PT: Update 9/1/12: Strategic Allied Consulting just changed the domain registration of strategicalliedconsulting.com to a private registration, but not before I had captured this screenshot of the original registration information:

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