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Virginia lawmakers seek wider probe in voting sign-up

Fraud allegations cite consulting firm

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Three Virginia congressmen have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to launch a multistate investigation into "voter registration irregularities" after a Pennsylvania man was charged with 13 counts of voter registration fraud in Harrisonburg last week.

U.S. Reps. Gerald E. Connolly, James P. Moran and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, all Democrats, wrote Mr. Holder a letter asking him to investigate the activities of Strategic Allied Consulting and its subsidiary Pinpoint. The company works with voter registration and is currently under investigation in Florida for 200 counts of potential voter registration fraud.

"Allegations of voter registration fraud by Strategic Allied Consulting also have been raised in Arizona and Colorado," the congressmen wrote. "The number of allegations in a multitude of locations would seem to suggest something more than the isolated acts of 'a few bad apples.'"

The company said in a statement on its website that it has never tolerated "even minimal violations of election law when registering voters." Contractors who do not follow the law are fired immediately, the company states, and employees are fully cooperating with elections officials in Florida.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said the department received the letter and is reviewing it.

The letter was released after the State Board of Elections earlier Tuesday indicated that local jurisdictions investigating the case of Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa., had not requested assistance from the state. Mr. Small was charged on Friday with 13 counts of disclosure of voter registration information, destruction of voter applications, and obstruction of justice. A store manager told police he saw Mr. Small dump eight completed registration forms in a bin outside his store Oct. 15 mere hours before the voter registration deadline of 5 p.m.

"The State Board of Elections is cooperating with the ongoing investigation and prosecution of the alleged perpetrator by the Rockingham County sheriff's office and commonwealth's attorney, respectively," said Donald Palmer, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections. "Pursuant to state law, violations of election laws are investigated and prosecuted at the local level unless additional support or resources from the attorney general are indicated. At this time, the commonwealth's attorney has not indicated a need for assistance on the state level."

In the wake of the incident, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman A. Donald McEachin, Richmond Democrat, asked Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II to get involved.

"We have heard a lot from Republicans both in the Virginia General Assembly and across the country about their numerous fears that voters were committing fraud," Mr. McEachin said. "It certainly looks like, instead, the fraud is being committed by the Republicans on the voters."

But Pat Mullins, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, quickly issued a statement condemning the incident and said Mr. Small was immediately fired.

"We were alarmed by allegations recently made regarding an individual in Harrisonburg," Mr. Mullins said. "The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process."

Mr. Cuccinelli, for his part, wrote back to Mr. McEachin and said he can only act if called upon by the State Board of Elections, a local commonwealth's attorney, or a local electoral board member.

"No such request has been made to date; and, therefore, by law, I do not have the authority to undertake the investigation you have suggested," he wrote. "My hands are tied in this matter."

Mr. Cuccinelli went on to write that he would gladly support legislation to grant his office the authority to independently investigate such matters, and said that he believes his office should have the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of election laws.

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