Friday, May 11, 2007

So, I'll bite, let's talk voter fraud

At least that's what some 10th District Republicans want us to do.

I'm sure they'd like us to help them take McHenry down before the general election. Then they could have a better chance at beating the Democratic candidate. You know, with a more ethical and likable Republican . . . So, I'm not sure that I should help them. But voter fraud is voter fraud. And if local Republicans have the guts to clean house, I say power to 'em.

It's pretty hard to find anyone (with enough access to know anything) who will go on the record dishing dirt on a sitting Congressman . . . except for the always-intrepid folks at the North Carolina Conservative. They have been joined in this fight by two newcomers: the Donnie Young Exploratory Committee website, and an apparent sister site, theYou Decide blogspot.

The original story that will not die is of 6 people who lived at then-candidate Pat McHenry's Cherryville house during the 2004 primary season. Michael Aaron Lay was paid by the campaign listing an address in Tennessee but he registered to vote in Gaston County. It's illegal in North Carolina to register to vote when you have no intention of remaining, much less never really moved here.

[Scroll down to "Page 10" at You Decide for jpegs of documents showing Lay's registration. "Page 19" shows campaign disbursements reported by the McHenry campaign to the FEC to Lay using a Tennessee address.]

But it's not just that these folks want the seemingly uncooperative Gaston County Republican district attorneys to investigate and prosecute their complaints. These self-described "real" conservatives have tied their 2004 McHenry voter fraud accusations to a recent Moore County case, where allegations of voter fraud among the staff surfaced last year in the entertaining Joe Boylan campaign. And NCC posted with these two seemingly separate items the resignation from Laura Harvey, an Iredell Young Republican Committeewoman who had to step down following "allegations that she improperly registered to vote in Mecklenburg County."

The North Carolina Conservative connects two of these cases to a specific consulting firm:
The Stewart Group was the campaign consultant for both the McHenry and Boylan campaigns.
According to an NCC reprint of a Moore County Independent article (that I could not find archived), the two staffers in the Boylan case originally got their jobs through Dee Stewart, former McHenry campaign manager and Congressional chief of staff.

A Raleigh-based Dee Stewart has a listing on the with the American Association for Political Consultants that links to a "coming soon" website titled The Stewart Group, Inc. There was a Douglas F. Stewart III who worked for McHenry's first campaign and staff. According to Legistorm, he was paid $25,422.23 for the first three months of 2005 as McHenry's chief of staff. Also, Douglas F. Stewart III registered in Raleigh as a Republican in March, 2001.

What makes these cases so unlikely to be investigated has been summed up in a letter to Donnie Young from State Board of Elections Counsel Don Wright (page 26). According to Wright, to challenge a vote one must reside in the county in question. That sounds ludicrous. If a law is broken, why can't anyone go to a magistrate? And if no one has challenged these allegedly illegal voters in Moore and Gaston counties, why should we care?

North Carolina Conservative Coalition Chair Donnie Young has created the website Donnie Young Exploratory Committee. [Does he hope to replace dear Pat? He will only say, "I'm exploring the possibility."] On his site, the bulk of the material has to do with McHenry's 2004 registered housemates. At You Decide, Young posted this:
Every true North Carolinian should be concerned when there is evidence of irregularities" in our elections, especially when they involve people coming in from out of state.
. . .
Six people registered to vote using Patrick McHenry's small home in Cherryville as their residence. In order to register to vote in NC you must have residency. Residency is defined as the intent to make a place your "permanent" home. If all six of the people who moved into and registered to vote at 1100 Requa Road, Cherryville, NC, intended that to be their "permanent" home I would be very much surprised . . .
From the Exploratory Committee website:
"Can someone come to NC from out of state or move from out of district for the temporary purpose of assisting in a campaign and claim residency in order to vote? This same conduct has occurred in other elections and seems to be acceptable to the SBOE since they are aware of the conduct and have taken no action.

If it is acceptable for campaign workers to move temporarily into a district and register to vote then this needs to be communicated to everyone who is running for public office so that there is an "even playing field". If it is not acceptable then it is a matter for the District Attorney's office to determine if this conduct constitutes "fraudulent" registration . . . a felony in North Carolina."
Now that I've bored you with all this crap, I still have to wonder: is this miniwebswarm really about voter registration? Or is it about pushing the voter fraud allegations to see if some enterprising DA can squeeze something more interesting out of these former McHenry and/or Stewart staffers? And, if so, why aren't any Democratic officials jumping on board? Is it true their hands are tied by election law? Or are they, like me, reluctant to help Republicans take down one of their own when the replacement might be a tougher opponent next fall?

And, are these allegations linked somehow to the indictment rumors started by investigators from the CBS Evening News, Wall Street Journal, and Charlotte Observer?

I know. I know. I'm asking more questions than I'm answering. And just to get this far, I have sifted through masses of rumors and innuendos of federal subpoenas, "beards," and extortion plots against Republican candidates. If you have anything to add, particularly if you are willing to go on the record, contact Pat Go Bye Bye using the email link on the lower left of this site.


B. Muse said...

This is the best piece out there yet. It seems everyone else just wants to out McHenry for being gay instead of concentrating on the more important issue - that he is unethical.

Good job getting to the heart of the matter.

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