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The Fraudulence of Voter Fraud (cont’d)

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According to its 990 tax forms, ACVR is based in Midlothian, Va., and its executive director is Robin DeJarnette, who is also the founder and executive director of the Virginia Conservative Action PAC. However, according to the registration form for its Internet domain name, the group’s address is a mailbox at a UPS Store in Dallas. The chairman of ACVR is Brian Lunde, a former Democratic National Committee official from Texas, who in 2004 was head of Democrats for Bush.

ACVR specializes in issuing studies that purport to document a host of voter fraud cases, like the report titled: “Democrat operatives far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression in 2004 than Republicans.”

On March 21, 2005, four days after ACVR went public, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), then chair of the Committee on House Administration, opened hearings on 2004 election irregularities. One person who testified was ACVR National Counsel Mark “Thor” Hearne II, who described himself as “a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experienced in election law.” In the aftermath of the 2000 presidential campaign, Hearne was dispatched to Florida as a Republican observer in Broward County’s manual recount, and in 2004 he worked as the national general counsel for Bush/Cheney ‘04 Inc.

In his testimony, Hearne described ACVR as “committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness of the outcome of elections.” And he submitted to the committee a copy of the ACVR’s “Ohio Election Report,” of which he was the lead author. That report read in part:

This [Democratic] voter registration effort was not limited to registration of legal voters but, criminal investigations and news reports suggest, that this voter registration effort also involved the registration of thousands of fictional voters such as the now infamous Jive F. Turkey, Sr., Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins. Those individuals registering these fictional voters were reportedly paid not just money to do but were, in at least one instance, paid in crack cocaine.

And in testimony on Dec. 7, 2006, the same day the prosecutors were fired, Hearne told the Election Assistance Commission: “Recent press reports suggest that voter registration fraud remains a significant issue in the recent mid-term elections.”

The press contact for ACVR is Jim Dyke, who was the communications director of the Republican National Committee during the 2004 election. In the fall of 2005 he was working in the White House trying to get Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court, before moving on to work in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Brad Friedman of BradBlog.com reported that according to internet records, Dyke registered the ACVR Internet domain name, ac4vr.com, in December 2004. Those records have since disappeared from public view. (The source of ACVR’s funding is also mysterious. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “When asked to name any contributors to his nonprofit, Hearne claimed he did not know but said Lunde did. When Lunde was asked, he claimed he did not know but said Hearne did.”)

Dyke is a good friend of his fellow Arkansan Tim Griffin, the new U.S. attorney in Arkansas. In 2004, both worked at the Republican National Committee helping Bush get re-elected. Dyke has been a vocal defender of Griffin’s appointment as U.S. Attorney. “He has a real passion for the law,” Dyke told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Rounding out the GOP operatives is Pat Rogers, who sits on the board of ACVR. An attorney for the Republican Party in New Mexico, he has been a vocal critic of fired U.S. Attorney Iglesias. According to the Albuquerque Tribune, Rogers is on the short list to replace Iglesias.

Rove’s role

Minnite, who did the study on voter fraud, has read through the reports prepared by ACVR and presented by Hearne at various official hearings. She noticed that the claims follow a predictable script. “It all starts to look the same,” she says. “There is a pattern in the way the documents that claim to show voter fraud are put together. It is usually a compilation of news reports on allegations. There is no follow up, no research done, no analysis.”

“As I delved into it, I was faced with the question: ‘Why do people think there is a lot of fraud when there isn’t any real evidence?’ I think people are being manipulated by politics, which takes the form of these reports that are dumped on the public. It is as if you get a big enough pile maybe you will convince people that the volume of fraud is quite large and that we have a serious problem.”

Wisconsin provides a case in point. At a March 13 press conference, White House Counsel Dan Bartlett identified Wisconsin as one of the states from which the White House had “received complaints about U.S. attorneys.”

In 2005, U.S. Attorney Steve Biskup, who was appointed by Bush, investigated these allegations of voter fraud and reported that he found no evidence on which to press charges.

It turns out that early in 2005, Republican officials in Wisconsin prepared a report titled “Fraud in Wisconsin 2004: A Timeline/Summary.” The document, which was found in White House and Justice Department records released by the House Judiciary Committee, was written by Chris Lato, the former communications director for the state Republican Party, on orders from Rick Wiley, the party’s executive director. The 30-page report, which covers Aug. 31, 2004 to April 1, 2005, contains 65 entries detailing voter fraud. The final example is titled: “RPW [Republican Party of Wisconsin] News Release: Evidence of Election Fraud Piles Up.”

The information contained in this Wisconsin compilation, made its way into a 78-page report released on July 21, 2005, by ACVR: “Vote Fraud, Intimidation & Suppression in the 2004 Presidential Election.” In the introduction, the ACVR’s Hearne and Lunde wrote that the report “documents hundreds of incidents and allegations from around the country. … [T]housands of Americans were disenfranchised by illegal votes cast on Election Day 2004 … [P]aid Democrat operatives were far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression activities than were their Republican counterparts. … [R]equiring government-issued photo ID at the polls … will help assure … that no American is disenfranchised by illegal votes.”

And who was behind this trail of misinformation? On April 7, Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported that a source familiar with the document told him, “The report was prepared for Karl Rove. Rick [Wiley] wanted it so he could give it to Karl Rove.”

On April 6, 2006, in Washington, at the aforementioned speech to Republican Party attorneys, Rove began with a joke: “I ran into [AVCR’s] Thor Hearne as I was coming in. He was leaving; he was smart, and he was leaving to go out and enjoy the day.” Rove then told the assembled party lawyers, “We have, as you know, an enormous and growing problem with elections in certain parts of America today.”

Rove should know. He helped grow the problem.

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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