DVT reports that the Democrats will be making sweeping challenges of Republican absentee voters.
The Argus Leader has an interesting report today headlined "A recount? Here's how it'd play out." Excerpt:
A recount is automatic in the case of a tie vote.
Otherwise, a recount is allowed only if the margin is less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the votes cast in the case of statewide campaigns, or less than 2 percent of the votes cast in legislative district races, according to Secretary of State Chris Nelson....
Daschle was in a recount the first time he ran for the House. That was in 1978, when the state still had two congressional districts. Daschle's race against Republican Leo Thorsness was for 1st District Congress, a district that was roughly the eastern third of the state. The unofficial total showed Daschle a 14-vote winner. The recount showed 139 votes.
The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary has the following observations about the the restraining order issued by a tribal court excluding Republicans from poll-watching on the reservation:
Two years ago, a suspicious surge in votes from South Dakota's Shannon County, home of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, gave Democratic Senator Tim Johnson a second term by 524 votes over Republican John Thune. Now Mr. Thune is running again, this time against Tom Daschle, the Senate Minority Leader. And once again, allegations are surfacing about shenanigans in Shannon County.
State's Attorney Lance Russell has launched an investigation into suspicions that some residents have already cast multiple ballots. "We do have a few people who have voted more than once," he told reporters. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney James McMahon isn't amused by a tribal judge's order aimed at preventing the state Republican Party from having any contact with Four Directions, a get-out-the-vote group financed by Democrats. The Democratic group has accused Republican monitors of videotaping them on private property; Oglala Sioux tribal Judge Marina Fast Horse duly issued a restraining order to stop the GOP efforts. But Mr. McMahon, the federal prosecutor, calls that action illegal and told the Associated Press that law enforcement officials "should not be enforcing any order on the reservation which purports to keep the Republican Party away from the polls."
There may be good reason why Democrats and tribal officials want to avoid scrutiny. Paul Brenner, a lawyer from Virginia who is observing the election on behalf of Republicans, filed an affidavit claiming that on Friday he was sitting with a poll watcher for Senator Daschle when they were approached by two women who asked when they would get paid to vote. In another incident on Thursday, he talked with another woman who was driving people to the polls. "I told (her) I had heard that the Daschle campaign office in Rosebud was offering a better deal to vote haulers than Four Directions, because they paid $10 a voter, plus a free meal at the Rosebud Casino. She said she already knew that and was also getting paid by the Daschle campaign office," Mr. Brenner wrote.
If Mr. Thune leads Mr. Daschle on Election Night, don't assume the race is over until the last precinct is in. In 2002, Mr. Thune led Senator Johnson by 3,729 votes at 3:41 a.m. with what Clifford Scott, the former chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, later called "all the no-reservation counties reporting. But either by accident or design the majority of the reservation precincts... had not reported."
When they did, they brought in just enough votes to defeat Mr. Thune.
Of late, the "non-partisan" Four Directions Committee has been in the news, and we'll likely hear more about them over the next few days. To get up to speed on this Democratic front group, click HERE and keep scrolling down.
The AP is reporting: "Accused GOP worker says he's never been to Pine Ridge." Excerpt:
A tribal judge has no authority to keep Republicans from watching Tuesday's voting on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, U.S. Attorney James McMahon said Saturday.
"It would be my interpretation of that order that it does not comply with the law, and I have let it be known to law enforcement that they should not be enforcing any order on the reservation which purports to keep the Republican Party away from the polls," he said.
"If anyone does that, they're subjecting themselves to violating federal law."
Four Directions accuses [Ryan] Knutson of intimidating its workers on Wednesday at Pine Ridge by videotaping them on private property. The order does not accuse him of harassing voters.
On Saturday, Knutson called The Associated Press and said they've got the wrong guy.
"This is bizarre. I have never been to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in my entire life," he said in a telephone interview from his North Sioux City home.
The AP is reporting: "Oglala order could prevent GOP poll watching on Pine Ridge."
NPR has a story in today's Morning Edition headlined "Native Americans Challenge S.D. Voter I.D. Law." The piece contains quotes from Brett Healy, executive director of the "non-partisan" Four Directions Committee.
The Hartford Courant has an extremely interesting story today headlined "Pequot Role Seen In Crucial Election." (Registration required.)
The Mashantucket Pequots have become behind-the-scenes players in one of the highest profile political races in the country - the fall South Dakota elections, which could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Organizers of an Indian voter registration campaign say the influential Mashantuckets are blocking their fund-raising efforts, a contention the Pequots deny....
The controversy surfaced last week when Henry Buffalo, a Chippewa Indian who is a lawyer for a Minnesota tribe, berated the Pequots at an open session of the National Congress of American Indians for trying to thwart the registration and get-out-the-vote campaign. Political observers say Indian voters in Western and Midwestern states could play a pivotal role in congressional and presidential elections this fall.
Buffalo blasted the Pequots for assuming that the Rapid City-based "Four Directions Committee" was merely a front for the Democrats. Speaking at a meeting at Mohegan Sun, he said the Pequots told Sodak Gaming Inc., a supplier of slot machines based in Rapid City, not to make a $100,000 donation to the campaign. The Pequots are one of Sodak's best customers.
"The Pequots told Sodak, `Don't give money to Four Directions.' That is absolutely outrageous," said Buffalo, lawyer for the Minnesota-based Prairie Island Indians, a leading supporter of the South Dakota registration drive. He said the Pequots - whose wealth from Foxwoods Resort Casino makes them influential among potential donors - have made it hard to raise money for the project.
Well, the investigation of the innocuous sounding group "Choose to Vote" just gets curiouser and curiouser. You may recall that a man named Howard Brewer pled guilty to voter fraud registration here in South Dakota a few weeks ago. Howard Brewer claimed to work for an organization called "Choose to Vote." I began investigating this group, and you can read more information about my findings HERE. One major discovery was that the only web presence of an organization called "Choose to Vote" was the website www.choose2vote.org, which is operated by a fellow named Derrick Lee of Gilbert, Arizona, near Phoenix, where Howard Brewer is from. Derrick Lee is a well-known figure in the petition industry, whose employees have frequently been investigated for fraudulent activity in gathering signatures for petitions.
Another major discovery of the investigation of the group "Choose to vote" was the fact that an April 30, 2004 story in the Argus Leader quoted the Fall River County Auditor to the following effect:
"We got one batch of about 300 that came in all at once, in an envelope that just said, 'Choose to Vote,' " Fall River County Auditor Sherrill Dryden said.
The return address on the envelope reads:
Choose Two Vote
8527 W Colfax
Lakewood CO. 80215
Why does all of this matter? Howard Brewer, who pled guilty to voter registration fraud here in South Dakota a few weeks ago claimed to work for the group "Choose to Vote." Howard Brewer is from the same location in Arizona as Derrick Lee, the man who operates choose2vote.org, and his employees are frequently investigated for fraudulent activity in gathering signatures for petitions around the country. There's a troubling trail of fraud related to this innocuous sounding group "Choose to/2/Two Vote" and it needs to be exposed in order to ensure a fair election in South Dakota this November.
According to the AP, the Four Directions Committee is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization:
The Four Directions Committee is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Healy said Tuesday in an interview. "Its sole existence is to help register, mobilize and get to the ballot box Native American voters, not just in South Dakota but elsewhere," he said.
[Larry Diedrich] voted to make it harder for Native Americans to vote. Following the 2002 election, Diedrich cosponsored legislation requiring voters to provide photo identification. (HB 1176, 2003)
The New York Times has an editorial today headlined "Indians Face Obstacles Between the Reservation and the Ballot Box." Excerpt:
Last year, after Indians had made the difference in Senator Johnson's election, the Republican-controlled State Legislature passed a new voter ID law that posed a particular hardship for Indians, who often do not have driver's licenses. They were assured that the new law would not present a problem, since it stated that any voter without ID "may complete an affidavit" instead. But many Indians were concerned that poll workers, who are often hostile to them, would ignore that provision.
That seems to be precisely what happened on June 1, and voting rights activists do not believe the mistakes in applying the law were accidental. As evidence, they have produced instructions used in Corson County on Election Day, apparently written by the Corson County auditor, saying: "Some voters are reporting that ID is not required. Please inform the voters that ID is in fact required." South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson insists that county auditors were all properly trained on the new law. In Corson County, "the auditor chose to add some additional instructions," he says. "I don't know why."
Lance Russell, state's attorney in Fall River County, said he has started looking into complaints about voters being turned away in Shannon County. He said he has found no instances when registered voters were denied the right to cast a ballot. Fall River County provides services to Shannon County under a contract.
"There were over 300 affidavits for Shannon County filled out on election day, so they were using them," Russell said.
Who is Dennis Langley? He's the National Vice Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party. Why is he significant? Well, one big reason is the fact that the Four Directions PAC owes him a whopping $100,000, according to this report. The Four Directions PAC, of course, is the predecessor of the Four Directions Committee so often in the news lately, harassing South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson (who is doing a fine job in difficult circumstances, by the way). What's more, there's no evidence that this $100,000 loan from Dennis Langley to the Four Directions PAC has ever been repaid.
It seems that this Four Directions PAC has had some serious failure-to-file issues with the Federal Election Commission, which earned a nasty letter from the FEC. The letter warned that failure to timely file a receipt and expenditures report "may result in civil money penalties, an audit, or legal enforcement action."
It turns out that Dennis Langley has quite a history. From 1993 to 1999 he was the Chairman of the Kansas Democratic Party, and was (perhaps still is) owner of the Kansas Pipeline Partnership. According to a story in the Lawrence Journal World, Langley was mentioned in a 67 page criminal complaint filed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office. A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, headlined "MG&E gave $45,000 to Democrats; That's $20,000 more than at first admitted" has more details.
The bottom line is that Dennis Langley came to South Dakota with quite a record of campaign problems behind him, and Four Directions PAC owed him a lot of money when it terminated. As always, this investigation only leads to more questions. How has Langley come to South Dakota? Why? Was he run out of Kansas? How did he become vice chairman? How does he earn his money? Who financed that loan to Four Directions? Was it repaid? What was the money used for? Were there any consequences for failing to file timely reports?
These are questions South Dakota journalists should be investigating. The AP story linked above is a good start, but obviously, it's only the tip of the iceberg.
This is a very interesting story on the Four Directions Committe headlined "Get-out-the-vote group, former political action committee linked." Excerpt:
Records from The Institute on Money in State Politics state that the Four Directions PAC gave $224,500 to the state Democratic Party and $1,750 to a legislative candidate. Federal Election Commission records indicate the PAC was organized in April 2003 and dissolved March 3, 2004.
Late last week, I noted that a fellow by the name of Howard Brewer from Arizona pled guilty to voter registration fraud in Codington County. Brewer claimed to be working for a group called "Choose to Vote." I encouraged the local media to investigate the group called "Choose to Vote," as that organization's name had appeared in an earlier story regarding the scrutiny of voter registration.
Now, an indispensable source has done some sleuthing, and reported back some interesting facts. First of all, the organization is called "Choose2Vote" and can be found at the website choose2vote.org. This website is registered to a person named Derrick Lee of Gilbert, Arizona. Gilbert is a suburb of Phoenix, which is where Howard Brewer is from, according to the AP.
A Google search of the terms "Derrick Lee" and "Arizona" yields some troubling pieces of information. It turns out that Derrick Lee is a well-known figure in the petition industry, and his employees are frequently investigated for fraud. A piece in the East Valley Tribune headlined "The Petition Machine;
The petition industry operates with few rules and many controversies" reports that less than half the signatures were valid in one of Lee's petition efforts in 2000. Further into the piece, we find this fact:
Lee's company also is at the center of many of the major controversies that have arisen in petition drives in recent years. Four of the five paid petition circulators who have been prosecuted for fraud and forgery since 1997 were working for Lee at the time they committed their crimes, according to court records.
The Phoenix New Times also has a piece headlined "Bad Sign; High rate of Reform Party invalid signatures may signal trouble for other ballot measures" detailing the infamous fraudulent signatures episode referred to above.
Interestingly, Lee was also hired to obtain signatures in the ultimately successful effort to recall Governor Gray Davis of California.
Campaigns hire Derrick Lee to gather signatures in order to put their candidate or initiative on the ballot. In other words, he makes money for every signature he turns in. Apparently, he is now being paid to turn in voter registration forms in South Dakota. The big question now is: who exactly is paying Derrick Lee to turn in voter registration forms in South Dakota?
Howard Brewer is a member of a shadowy group called "Choose to Vote" who was busted forging voter registrations here in South Dakota earlier this spring. Almost half of the registrations he sent in were forged. Local television stations are reporting that he has now pled guilty to voter registration fraud. KSFY has a story headlined "Registration Fraud":
An Arizona man pleaded guilty in Codington County Thursday for voter registration fraud. Officials say Howard L. Brewer forged information on voter registration forms and turned them into to the Codington County Auditor's Office. "We did not have any idea where these voter registration forms came from. They came in a white envelope with no return address," says Codington County Auditor Cindy Brugman. This was the first red flag for Brugman. The second came when voter registration forms didn't seem right. "The phone number was changed by one digit," says Brugman.
9 of the 22 voter registration forms didn't check out, leading authorities to 44-year-old Brewer. Since the investigation is still ongoing, Codington County officials aren't saying how they linked Brewer to the registrations. But Thursday, Brewer pleaded guilty to 3 counts of forgery.
Officials say Brewer was holding voter registration drives for an organization called Choose to Vote, when he forged information onto forms. And now authorities are looking for other people linked to the case in Codington County.
And it doesn't stop there, Brewer was also in Brown County. "I just went to visit with them while they were at Wal-Mart and asked that they please bring the forms up as soon as they were finished to get them processed," says Brown County Auditor Maxine Taylor. Taylor says Brewer dropped off a pack of registrations. They all checked out, but some other forms that came in later did not, and tracing where those forms came from is almost impossible...expect for one thing. "The ones that came directly from the group...none had a return address," said Taylor. Just like the ones that came from Brewer in Codington County.
So far there is no investigation underway in Brown County. Brewer is scheduled for sentencing on July 28th. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Howard Brewer sent an envelope with 22-voter registration forms to the county auditor's office in Watertown.
Nine of the 22 did not check out.
Brewer will be sentenced July 28th for forgery.
He could get up to 15-years.
Brewer says he was working for an organization called "choose to vote"
Intriguingly, an April 30, 2004 story in the Argus Leader, written by Terry Woster and headlined "Attempts to sign up new voters scrutinized" included the following passage:
Some other counties report only sporadic activity.
"We got one batch of about 300 that came in all at once, in an envelope that just said, 'Choose to Vote,' " Fall River County Auditor Sherrill Dryden said. Her office oversees the process in Fall River and nearby Shannon County on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
"We aren't finding many problems at all right now," she said.
So far, I'm unable to find the group's website, which makes it likely that they don't have a website. Needless to say, my suspicions are heightened.