Saturday, Nov 3, 2012 4:45 PM UTC

GOP voter registration fraud probe widens

Virginia looks into potential systemic fraud while investigation spreads to Colorado

Just as Virginia is coming back into play before Tuesday’s election, authorities there are expanding their investigation into potential voter registration fraud by Republican contractors. Colin Small, a former employee with a firm contracted by the Virginia Republican Party had been scheduled to appear before a grand jury last week after he was arrested and charged with 8 felony counts relating to the destruction of completed voter registration forms. But now state prosecutors and expanding their investigation and want more information from him before the appearance.

They’re trying to determine if Small was acting on his own, or if he was acting under orders from superiors when he threw out several completed registration forms his canvassers had collected from Democrats. If true, that would indicate a very different situation. Instead of one rogue GOP operative, it would suggest a systematic effort by a contractor playing a key role in GOP voter registration efforts in several key states to disenfranchise Democrats. Marsha Garst, the Virginia prosecutor overseeing the case, told the Washington Post Friday, This is a very important investigation to the state, and we intend to prosecute Mr. Small to the fullest extent.”

Small worked for a company run by GOP operative Nathan Sproul called Strategic Allied Consulting which had also been employed by the Republican National Committee and state Republican Parties in several other states. Among them is Florida, where authorities are also investigating the firm. The investigation has spread to Colorado as well, where an employee of Sproul’s is under investigation in Arapahoe County for tearing up a Democratic voter registration form. KDVR in Denver also reports that the FBI interviewed Sproul in April (read the transcript here) about potential suppression efforts.

The firm was led by notorious GOP operative Nathan Sproul, who has faced allegations of voter suppression and dirty tricks for years. After the allegations of fraud came out, the RNC said it had fired Sproul and canceled all contracts with his firm, but he may still be working with state parties. Companies created or led by Sproul have received more than $3 million in payments from the Republican party during this election campaign, and Mitt Romney’s campaign paid Sproul’s firm $71,000 last year for “field consulting.”

Meanwhile, Virginia is becoming more competitive late in the race, with the Obama campaign making a last-minute play there and in Florida. Yesterday, the campaign placed their final advertising buy of the election — “the overwhelming focus of which was to double down on Florida and Virginia,” the Obama campaign said. The campaign, in a statement to Politico this morning, continued: “From everything we’re seeing in the numbers and on the ground, we believe that they’ll end up in the President’s column on Tuesday night.”

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