Friday, May 22, 2015

Disappearing Operatives Commit Vote Fraud to Make Vote Fraud Easier

The Brennan Center and other groups focused on supporting the Democrat Party try to very narrowly define vote fraud as in person impersonation.  It is much broader than that.  

Recently we had a post about how officials in Philadelphia were putting votes on the machine before the election.  Today we have a post on how people are cheating to make it easier to cheat, voting early for very long periods. 

Four people are facing felony charges over fraudulent signatures on a 2014 initiative petition that unsuccessfully sought to put an early-voting proposal on the Missouri ballot, [Democrat] Secretary of State Jason Kander said Monday. 

As is often the case the fraudsters seem to be national Democrat operatives, most of which have disappeared and left the area

Forgery warrants also were issued for Tracy Renee Jones, Danny Lawrence Williams and Rogell Coker Jr., according to court records. None had publicly listed phone numbers in Missouri, and court   

The measure, backed by Democratic-aligned groups, would have created the longest early voting period in the nation.

The fraud being uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg and the sole person being prosecuted an even smaller subset.

Republican Sen. Will Kraus, who is running for secretary of state in 2016, criticized Kander for not pursuing cases in other counties, pointing to a study paid for by a Republican political consultant that found potential fraud in dozens of counties.

Vote fraud is much more than impersonation and liberal operatives are coming up with new ways to commit it.   

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The FEC, ‘the system,’ and the cave

Amidst alleged intractable difficulties, FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel has been hosting vanity panels and blitzing reverent media with woebegone tales of Commission “paralysis,” “dysfunction,” and “public betrayal.” Despite her full schedule, however, her quest’s philosophical underpinnings remain in tatters. 

Ravel hosted the controversial Women in Politics
forum last week. The confab produced questionable substance even putting aside obvious concerns over authority for taxpayer-funded forays into chromosome politics. 

By the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s count, the U.S. ranks 73rd in female legislators. The top five, however, are hardly preferred realms of emulation: 1. Rwanda, 2. Bolivia, 3. Cuba, 4. Seychelles, and 5. Switzerland.

Nevertheless, what’s to be done about America’s political XX crisis? One panelist suggested dismantling our economic system. ‘No Capitalism, No Cry,’ as the song goes.

Harvard professor Pippa Norris had an equally drastic proposal: “I know in America . . . it’s a radical revolutionary – I won’t say left-wing agenda [editor’s note: go ahead Pippa you can say it] – but nevertheless brand new idea . . . If you’re in Britain and you’re running as a candidate of any party, you can’t really spend that much money – $15,000 to $20,000 maximum . . . You can’t buy ads, so that gets rid of that. You shove a pamphlet through people’s doors, that’s it, and then you meet people.”

Eureka! Abolish the First Amendment and gender parity ensues! Except the percentage difference in U.S. and U.K. female legislators barely registers: lower house 3.4%; upper chamber 4.1%. Eradicating our free speech tradition seems a high price for a miniscule rise in female participation. One might also inquire if the Brits like their constrained system. They don’t. Nine out of ten people say the UK government is run by a few big entities acting in their own interests. A 2006 NGO report stated, “Trust in politics and politicians is low and the UK political establishment is perceived by the public to be the most corrupt of any UK institution.” Of course as Larry Lessig has proven time and again, Harvard’s imprimatur inspires a certain devil-may-care nonchalance about pedestrian issues of academic rigor.

Although unfortunately absent from the forum, Lessig and Ravel do share a populist philosophical view of campaign finance. As articulated by Brookings Institute’s Jonathan Rauch:

The populist school equates legitimacy with direct participation by ordinary individuals and corruption with intermediation or influence on the part of organizations or interests, especially large or wealthy ones. For the populist reformer, the solution to almost any political problem involves more democracy, more participation . . . For the populist . . . private money . . . is corrupting—unless it comes from small donors, in which case it counts as participation (even if the government has to purchase said participation with a tax credit and a six-fold match) . . . . For the populist, transparency is virtuous in and of itself . . .

Ravel concurs: “Somehow we have to get to a system that encourages people to participate not just by voting but by giving money so that the policy needs of most people will be listened to as much as those of wealthy donors . . . The system is bad for everyone . . .”

There are several shortcomings with ‘the system’ approach to campaign finance. First it’s empirically deficient. Second it incorrectly assumes popular political involvement is artificially less than some more perfect baseline. Third, it mistakes ordinary transactional politics with corruption. And fourth it’s doctrinally unworkable; as Rauch explains, “The system is corrupt’ [is] a good statement of the ideology which has made modern progressivism an inherently unstable and uncontainable doctrine.”

As a philosophy major, Chairwoman Ravel is surely familiar with Plato’s allegory of the cave. In it, Socrates explains the existence objective truth beyond what some choose or are even capable of understanding. One who has left the cave and experienced sunlight may find themselves ridiculed when returning to explain truth to the cave’s permanent dwellers.

Lessig and Ravel cast themselves as enlightened sunbathers nobly teaching obdurate cave dwellers. And yet, their real problem is misconstruing the populace. It’s not that those who look askance at hipster adverts, keep electing the wrong gender, and spend their time away from theoretical arguments need teaching, they just aren’t buy ‘the system’ remedy. The internet provided the light; no one is left in the cave. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Philadelphia, they don't wait for Election to Start Committing Vote Fraud

There has long been an unofficial competition for the “vote fraud” capitol of the United States.  Philadelphia has its backers for the claim, which seemingly include arch-liberal Chris Mathews who has discussed how people are bussed around to vote for others who are not showing up on Election Day.  Yesterday, Philadelphia went one better/worse.  Allegedly adding votes to the machines BEFORE the election:

However, four of those people tasked with making sure there is a fair election probably will not be there tomorrow because they were arrested today by District Attorney Seth Williams due to tips he fielded from Republican Pollworkers who reported infractions to City Commissioner Al Schmidt who, in turn, forwarded them to the District Attorney.   Williams stated that “election judge Sandra Lee, 60; minority inspector Alexia Harding, 22; machine inspector Gregory Thomas, 60; and machine inspector James Collins, 68, at the time, were charged with a variety of election law violations because they also worked together to add six votes to the total tally [and that] Harding, Collins and Thomas also did not live in the division where they claimed to be residents, he said.

Vote fraud is not novel in Philadelphia, as Joe DeFelice noted:

This isn’t the first time that Philadelphia has been at the forefront of Election irregularities and voter fraud.  Last year Election Judge Dianah Gregory was arrested and found guilty of tampering with voting machines.  Prior to that, as reported in the Associated Press, there were hundreds of more votes cast than actual voters that showed to the polls in a Primary Election. 

Personally I don’t think Philadelphia is the vote fraud capitol for the United States.  Which should frighten those interested in open, fair and honest elections.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

ICYMI: What Happens When You Have a Voter Integrity Task Force

On May 8, the Belleville, Illinois News Democrat reported:

A newly-elected Alorton trustee and a Cahokia man were charged Friday afternoon with four counts of vote fraud stemming from the April 7 election.

This was uncovered because of the work of the Sheriff and the “Voter Integrity Task Force of the County Clerk.”  This is unusual and something the left very much opposes.  Yet is it is working:

“The voter integrity hotline we established continues to be working. It is generating very intense oversight from federal state and local law enforcement,” County Clerk Tom Holbrook said.

“In America, we have free and open elections. I believe in that. I believe in the Constitution,” Sheriff Rick Watson said. “If you want to insult a veteran, cheat in an election — the very thing they fought for.”

This case makes seven vote fraud charges filed by Kelly since 2012:

Kudos to those in Illinois for working to stop vote fraud and to Sheriff Watson for speaking so eloquently on the matter.  We have no doubt much more vote fraud would be uncovered if more task forces were formed.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Liberal Law Professor Points Out Democrats Won't Criticize Fellow Democrat Hillary

Yesterday we wrote about the Clinton Foundation and State Department's efforts to fight against disclosing the connections between Hillary’s top aides and the Foundation donors.  While most Democrats remain silent, even a Bill Clinton appointed judge wants to know more and is sick of the games:
In the requests, Citizens United sought records from State of correspondence between Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills or Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin and personnel at the Clinton Foundation, as well as communications between Abedin and officials of consulting firm Teneo. One request also asked for records of contacts between former State Department official Kris Balderston and Teneo founder Doug Band.
. . . In a written order filed after the hearing, Sullivan gave State until September 21 to explain what it was withholding and why. The judge set legal arguments over the search and any withheld records for December 16."Here's the deal: I'm not going to extend the time," the judge said. "[Your] motions for extensions? Keep them in the word processor."
Clinton defenders will no doubt point out that Citizens United is a long time Clinton antagonist.  They will ignore the fact that even a Clinton appointed Judge is fed up with the games.  Since it is May of 2015, a few liberals feel safe in pointing out the hypocrisy of Democrats and most liberals on this issue.  Far left Professor Larry Lessig wrote:
Welcome to Wonderland: Were the alleged influencers the Koch brothers, with the same kind of pattern charged against them -- their channeling support to Republican representatives, those representatives in turn acting in a way that reflected the desires of the Kochs -- there would be no doubt that Democrats would rally to attack that influence as Exhibit No. 1 in the case against the corruption of Washington. But apparently now those loyal to the Democratic presidential front-runner will have to be more careful in their criticism.
Lessig has unknowingly uncovered a truth of the Democrat left.  The most important point to these Democrats is not the breaking of the law or the ethics of the action but rather the Party the alleged lawbreaker represents.  Further this is 2015 and far from the election. If Hillary is the Democrat nominee and these issues are not resolved, in 2016 will any liberals or Democrats stand up?  Hopefully, the truth comes out before that. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Does the Left Only Care About the Campaign Finance Activities of Republicans?

For years the left has been screaming about disclosure and nebulous so-called “dark money."  Yet, in the most outrageous current example of flouting of disclosure and any sort of ethical duty on fundraising, they are mostly silent.  If the campaign finance watchdog groups on the left had any principles they would be screaming about the Clinton Foundation and what it means for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 

A recent paper by the Capitol Research Center starts to put the pieces together.  While much has been made about a recent book, little has been made about the personnel matters related to the donations.

The Foundation identified Mills as one its three directors when applying for nonprofit status in Florida in June 2009. That came five months after Mills began serving as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at State. Mills was also listed as a director in Clinton Foundation filings in 2010, 2011 and 2012, or basically for the duration of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

George W. Bush’s White House ethics counsel Richard Painter told the Free Beacon that such an arrangement is questionable.  “It would be highly problematic if she was a director of the foundation and she was participating in State Department decisions that could have a financial benefit to the foundation,” Painter said. “If you did do something that had a direct and predictable financial benefit for the foundation, you get into criminal statutes” (Washington Free Beacon, April 1, 2015).

This was not the only time that a Clinton Foundation and State Department employee were in an ethical tangle.  Hillary Clinton’s top aide over the last few years, Huma Abedin, was at the end of Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State a State Department “special government employee” while also serving as an advisor to a top donor to the Clinton Foundation, Teneo Foundation. This time it is not just “Republicans” but State Department Inspector General that is concerned.   

On April 10, the department’s inspector general announced he was launching an investigation into Abedin’s irregular employment arrangements. 

Where are all those on the left that make their money talking about campaign finance?  One thing is for sure, they would not be silent if it was a Republican with the same arrangement as Hillary’s friends and allies.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

FEC dysfunction a California dream

As the saying goes you can’t swing a dead cat around Washington, DC without hitting someone—a journalist, reformer, professor, or Chairwoman—complaining about the Federal Election Commission’s dysfunction. (One particularly uninformed reporter stated the Commission had come to a “complete halt.”).

The rhetoric about supposed paralysis has heated up of late with Chairwoman Ann Ravel stating the Commission she leads is, despite her best efforts, beyond repair. Henceforth she will take her fight to the people, or at least the sympathetic organs of the New York Times and Washington Post to demonstrate the Commission’s Republican intransigence.

Her umbrage stems mostly from some disagreements on highly controversial topics like political committee status. Republican refusals to investigate four conservative nonprofits including Crossroads GPS has convinced her “there isn’t going to be any real enforcement,” at the Commission. And “the problem” is three Republican commissioners voting as a bloc to ensure important matters are “swept under the rug.”

The disclosure doyenne doesn’t just reserve her invective for the Republican Commissioners, however. She also finds fault in a judiciary too deferential to agency judgments and candidates she insinuates are openly breaking the law with pre-announcement fundraising practices.

A closer look, however, reveals the issues are more complicated and the agency functioning more smoothly than the California Democrat would have readers of east coast establishment media believe.

As pointed out by Commissioner Lee E. Goodman, the Commission reached at least four votes 93% of the time last year, including 86% involving substantive matters. Those numbers may be slightly down from previous years but are remarkable in the current hyperpartisan environment. When the Commission does disagree it is on tough issues that have plagued the agency often since its inception.

As Bob Bauer explains, the problem with political committee status dates back at least to a supposed more cooperative era in the 2003-2004 when the agency couldn’t agree on a definition, forcing reliance on ad hoc judgments. And Jan Baran remembers this being a contentious issue when he worked at the Commission in 1977.

Goodman estimates these disagreements, which have caused Ravel’s apoplexy affect perhaps one percent of total political money. Regardless, she may be right that certain nonprofits should have registered with the Commission. The soundness of the Republican Commissioners’ decision is now in the courts that she places so little faith. But the whole point of judicial review is to ensure Commission decisions are on solid legal standing.

Of course, in other instances the Chairwoman has been less sanguine about following the law as written. In Checks and Balances for Economic Growth (MUR 6729), involving internet regulations, she refused to follow explicit law because “as a policy matter [the law] simply does not make sense.” As Commissioner Goodman contends, internet policy reaches far beyond a relatively small amount of undisclosed political spending.

Chairwoman Ravel has stated there is a crisis of public confidence about enforcement of election law. To the extent she is correct her statements have certainly contributed to it. Nor is this one commission unique in that debatable assertion. Polls show trust in government at all-time lows. One should probably expect such cynicism with a federal government that interferes with Americans’ lives to the tune of 175,000 pages of regulations.

Things may not be as easy for Chairwoman Ravel as they were in the Golden State, where one-party rule greases bureaucratic dominion of public affairs. But her leadership and legacy depend on her ability to overcome perceived strife, find common ground where possible, respect dissenting opinions as legitimate, and allow the court to decide where necessary. The New York Times and Washington Post will get her up and down I-95 but little place else.