Fla. opens criminal probe of GOP voter sign-up firm
Published: 10/04/2012 01:12pm
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Wednesday that it is investigating a Republican voter-registration firm for possible fraud in at least a dozen counties.
Strategic Allied Consulting was fired last week by the Republican National Committee and the Florida party after county elections officials reported scores of suspicious forms. The state GOP also asked the Florida Division of Elections for an investigation.
"After reviewing this complaint, FDLE has decided that a criminal investigation into these allegations is warranted. This is now an active investigation, which precludes us from providing further information until such time that the investigation is complete," the FDLE said in a statement, the Tampa Bay Times says.
Responding to the announcement, Strategic Allied Consulting spokesman David Leibowitz. told the Tampa paper, "This company doesn't tolerate contractors who can't comply with their training or election law."
Spokesmen for the Republican and Democratic parties said they, too, welcomed the investigation.
On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Virginia-based group, headed by Arizona conservative operative Nathan Sproul, knew about problems in Florida earlier than reported.
In 2004, employees with his previous firms were accused of a wide assortment of infractions: destroying voter registration forms of Democrats, duping college students into registering as Republicans, refusing to register Democrats or independents. Nevada, Oregon and Arizona opened investigations but closed them without charging anyone. ...
Sproul, 40, and his associates say Democrats are bound to criticize his work, which he claims has signed up 500,000 voters since 2004. But Republicans aren't standing by him, either. The state Republican Party in Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia fired the firm Sept. 25, and the Republican Party of Florida filed an election fraud complaint last week that is now part of a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. ...
Company representatives have said they kept Florida Republicans informed once they were alerted of questionable registration forms in Palm Beach County and fired the employee responsible on Sept. 18. ...
But the director of voter registration said Tuesday that she noticed "some odd applications that came quite a bit earlier, on Aug. 28. It looked like someone had checked Republican for a number of party registration boxes that didn't match the rest of the applications. Four of the forms appeared to have been filled out by the same person," the Times writes.