Please be sure to read the update at the end.
Be sure to read UPDATE II as well. The trolls may have overstated the issues with ACVR as a front.
I missed this when it first came out in yesterday’s Arizona Central Bizwire, but an independent report from the new American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund identifies far more incidents of voter intimidation and fraud on behalf of Democrats and their candidates than it did on behalf of their opponents. Their report, available here on their website, makes it clear that Democrat complaints about Republican conspiracies consist of little more than a classic case of projection:
While Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of voter intimidation and suppression, neither party has a clean record on the issue. Instead, the evidence shows that Democrats waged aggressive intimidation and suppression campaigns against Republican voters and volunteers in 2004. Republicans have not been exempt from similar criticism in this area, as alleged voter intimidation and suppression activity by GOP operatives led the Republican National Committee to sign a consent decree repudiating such tactics in 1982. However, a careful review of the facts shows that in 2004, paid Democrat operatives were far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression efforts than their Republican counterparts. Examples include:
* Paid Democrat operatives charged with slashing tires of 25 Republican get-out-the-vote vans in Milwaukee on the morning of Election Day.
* Misleading telephone calls made by Democrat operatives targeting Republican voters in Ohio with the wrong date for the election and faulty polling place information.
* Intimidating and deceiving mailings and telephone calls paid for by the DNC threatening Republican volunteers in Florida with legal action.
* Union-coordinated intimidation and violence campaign targeting Republican campaign offices and volunteers resulting in a broken arm for a GOP volunteer in Florida.
Most of these incidents have received plenty of attention in the blogosphere, but have received little systematic analysis in the Exempt Media. The complaints of the Democrats have received plenty of media play, and they have formed the basis of some embarrassing grandstanding by leading Democratic politicians, notably Barbara Boxer’s efforts to decertify Ohio’s electors in January which held up the certification of Bush’s victory for two hours. However, the ACVR report shows almost all of their claims to have no merit whatsoever.
Be sure to read through all the details of the report. It takes a comprehensive view of all the so-called “irregularities” of the 2004 election and makes minced meat of Democratic claims of victimhood. It will not change any minds among the True Believers, but the rational moderates will have this much more information with which to judge the vanishing credibility of Democratic leadership.
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice says that the ACVL has some controversial and potentially partisan financing. He’s checking into it now. It’s worth maintaining some skepticism on this report until more is known about the organization, which came into existence this past February and describes itself as a non-partisan effort to ensure clean elections. I’d consider Joe to be a pretty solid resource on this type of issue. I don’t think all the mea culpas he issued on his post were warranted — after all, we could get most of the information in this report from media accounts — but he does have a point about ensuring that the group isn’t acting as a front.
UPDATE II: I still haven’t seen much about where ACVR gets its funding. I have seen plenty about how Mark F. “Thor” Hearne worked on the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004. But the other signatory to the report is Brian A. Lunde, who by this description hardly appears to be a right-wing idealogue:
Brian A. Lunde (1976) served as national field director for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, as executive director of the Kentucky Democratic Party and as executive director for the Democratic National Committee before becoming a partner in Lunde & Burger, a political consulting and government relations firm in McLean, Va.
This description also includes Lunde’s former DNC board membership as his background. Also here. Here, too. Lunde shows up attached to Helping Americans Vote on this site. His only campaign contribution in the past four years went to Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR). And for those wondering if Lunde went from Ted Kennedy to Pat Buchanan, here’s a tidbit from this past May:
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury reportedly has subpoenaed the records of two other lobbyists — Brian Lunde and George Burger — hired for $50,000 by Scanlon to win Democratic support for the amendment. Proponents of the amendment had wanted it attached to an election-revision bill that Dodd had sponsored in the Senate.
The two Democrats, Brian Lunde and George Burger, in turn are said to have paid $10,000 to a third lobbyist linked to Dodd, Lottie Shackelford, to secure the senator’s support for the single-sentence rider that would have unshuttered the casino closed by Texas authorities.
It appears that the report, at least, has some bipartisan credentials, even if the Democrat has some lobbying baggage. (More on Lunde can be found on this Google search.) It doesn’t mean that it’s completely unbiased, but it doesn’t appear to be the fraud that some commenters claim it to be, either. (h/t: John R.)
UPDATE III: Joe Gandelman, ever the gentleman, updated his post to note my findings on Brian Lunde. Joe still maintains that he regrets getting involved in the story and thinks the Arizona Republic did a poor job in its coverage by not mentioning the controversy surrounding the group’s status. I agree with that, too; the Republic pulled the story from its website rather than address the issues. My feeling is that the partnership between a Democratic activist and a GOP activist makes this report bipartisan — but doesn’t guarantee anything else other than that. It does negate the allegations of fraud (at least relating to the bipartisanship of this report) made in the comments of his blog and mine.
I encourage people to read the report and then check the sources, and make up their own minds on the report’s credibility.
LAST UPDATE: It looks like The Commissar and Pat from Brainster did a better search at Open Secrets (I searched on Occupation) and found an additional couple of donations to George BUsh for 2004, around $4,000 between him and his wife. It looks like Lunde did a Zell in 2004. Again, read the report and check the sources for yourselves. (Thanks to the Commissar and Pat for dropping me an e-mail on the subject.)