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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Real ACORN: Nathan Sproul’s Long History Of GOP Voter Registration Fraud

Nathan Sproul — whose Strategic Allied Consulting was finally fired Thursday by the Republican National Committee — is well known in Republican circles for his voter registration “efforts.”

The former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party ran voter registration drives on behalf of the RNC in 2004 in eight states, reportedly collecting over eight million dollars in payments for his services. During that campaign, his firm was accused of having his employees destroy registration forms in Nevada and California along with other “hijinks,” including posing as a progressive organization and spearheading a drive to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. In Minnesota, Sproul’s company allegedly fired employees who brought back Democratic registrations.

Though Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VA) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) sent a letter in 2004 requesting an investigation into Sproul’s efforts by the Department of Justice, it never happened. And Sproul was invited to the White House for the Bush Christmas party in 2006.

In 2008, as John McCain’s campaign was making allegations against ACORN of committing widespread voter registration fraud, they hired Sproul for “voter registration.” Congressman Chris Cannon (R-UT) defended the hire by saying, “The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.” In fact, Sproul’s company had been accused of doing just that.

The RNC was well aware of the charges against Sproul when they hired him in 2012 to create Strategic Allied Consulting in order to register voters in several swing states. After Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications, it seems Sproul’s company has been caught doing what they have long been accused of — voter registration fraud.

Fox News and the conservative media hounded ACORN in 2009 for similar allegations, leading the non-partisan group to close down in 2010. You’d expect they’d be all over news of actual registration fraud, especially as the allegations spread include nine counties in Florida as well as registration drives in Colorado and North Carolina — if only they didn’t involve a Republican.

The charges against Sproul are much more serious than the few voter registration fraud cases brought against ACORN employees. Brad Friedman at Brad Blog summarizes:

Of course, there is no real comparison to ACORN. Unlike Sproul’s outfits, the non-partisan community organizing group was never hired by the Democratic Party to do voter registration work. Moreover, it was ACORN themselves who discovered fraud by a handful of its more than ten thousand workers and notified officials of the fraud and the names of those who had defrauded them.

Sproul has been hired again and again by the Republican Party without any sense that they took the accusations against him seriously.

Republicans continually invoke ACORN to make registering and voting much more difficult. The Nation‘s Ari Berman suggests that based on these allegations, “Maybe in 2013 the Florida legislature should pass legislation specially preventing Republicans from running voter registration drives.”

The GOP has begun waging a war on voting. But if they cared about the integrity of the vote, they wouldn’t hire operatives like Nathan Sproul, who have a history of disregarding it.

Photo credit: AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File

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