Republic Report has covered how political money can corrupt government by influencing the actions of elected representatives. But professional hacks can also disrupt democracy by interfering with the voting process itself.
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.
ThinkProgress covered Sproul and his work for the coal industry. The post, which partially reprinted below, goes through his greatest hits, including evidence that his firm systematically suppressed Democratic overs on behalf of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential team and deceiving voters during registration drives in 2006:
- In Oregon and Nevada, Lincoln Strategies -- then known as Sproul and Associates -- was investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms. The Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign paid Sproul $7.4 million for campaign work. [CNN, 10/14/04; KGW News, 10/13/04; East Valley Tribune, 09/07/06]
- In Nevada, people who registered as Democrats with Lincoln Strategies -- then known as Sproul and Associates -- found their names absent from the voter registration rolls. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 10/29/04]
- During the 2006 midterm elections, Wal-Mart banned Lincoln Strategies for partisan voter registration efforts in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee had hired the firm. [Associated Press, 08/24/06]
- In Arizona, Lincoln Strategies employed a variety of deceptive tactics -- including systematically lying about the bill -- to push a ballot initiative to eviscerate the state's clean elections law. [Salon, 10/21/04]
- Lincoln Strategies, then employed by the Republican Party, was behind efforts to place Ralph Nader on the ballot in states such as Arizona. [American Prospect, 06/25/04]
Though Romney and his allies
have decried supposed voter fraud by his opponents, they don't have any
evidence that people are illegally voting. Most accusations of
Democratic voter fraud center on registration forms filled out by fake
people -- usually because signature gatherers are paid per-form -- but
these accusations do not include examples of these fake people actually
attempting to vote.
On the other hand, when people go to vote and learn their voter registration forms were never turned in, they are denied their rights. 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."
Republic Report reviewed disclosures from the Federal Elections Commission. Sproul's Lincoln Strategy Group has received about $71,391 in payments for "field consulting" and "rent & utilities" by the Romney for President Inc. committee from November 30th through March 2nd of this year.
Lincoln Strategy Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.