America Votes Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2004

Contact:  SARAH LEONARD


 

 

Shadowy GOP – funded Group Destroys Democratic Registration Forms

REAL  America Votes urges FAKE America Votes to Stop All Misleading, Unethical and Illegal Activity

Washington, DC A group directly funded by the Republican National Committee has been accused of destroying thousands of Democratic registration forms, and participating in unethical activities in a number of states this cycle, while misrepresenting itself as America Votes.

According to a report by KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, NV, former employees of “Voters Outreach of America,” also calling itself “America Votes” have witnessed the firm “rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.”

 

The group, run by longtime Republican operative Nathan Sproul, has been exposed for its unethical and potentially illegal tactics in Oregon, Nevada, and West Virginia.  It also reportedly has been active in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida, under the names “America Votes”, “Project America Votes” and “Voters Outreach of America.”

 

Sproul & Associates has received nearly half a million dollars in disbursements from the Republican National Committee.  The RNC has also paid for the groups classified ads looking for staff around the country.

 

In response, Cecile Richards, President of the real America Votes, sent a letter to Sproul, in which she says, “We ask that you refrain from using the name “America Votes” in any of your activities from this point forward.  But more importantly, we ask that you immediately stop all dishonest, unethical, and potentially illegal activity.”

 

America Votes is a coalition of many of the largest membership-based groups in the country, who have come together to increase voter registration, education and participation in electoral politics. Founded in July, 2003, this historic partnership represents a combined membership of more than 20 million Americans in every state in the country. Groups that are part of America Votes work on a broad range of issues including environmental protection, education, human and civil rights, women's rights, choice and labor. At the national and state levels, America Votes partner organizations have joined together to share research and information in order to reach out to voters and encourage greater voter participation.

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Mr. Nathan Sproul

Sproul & Associates Managing and Consulting Firm

P.O. Box 32664

Phoenix, AZ 85604

 

Mr. Sproul:

 

I recently started hearing reports that a firm called Sproul & Associates was conducting unethical, and maybe even illegal, voter registration drives on behalf of its client “America Votes.”

 

As President of America Votes, that caught me off-guard, since I had never even heard of Sproul & Associates.

 

I was even more concerned when I heard last night that “Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes” was being investigated for destroying Democratic voter registration forms in Nevada.

 

So we started looking into it, and what we found was very disturbing.

  • Sproul & Associates, a Republican political consulting firm in Arizona, was trying to set up voter registration drives at Oregon libraries.  Letters sent by your firm to libraries claimed, “Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national non-partisan voter registration drive, America Votes! in several states across the nation.”  (Mail-Tribune, 9/21/04)

  • The toll-free number which librarians were given connects to an answering machine stating that if the caller is interested in canvassing neighborhoods in support of the GOP, he or she should leave a message with contact information. (Mail-Tribune, 9/21/04)

  • Despite your statement that your group had not heard of America Votes, your employee Sue Noel, told a local newspaper that your group was indeed aware that you were using our name, and that you had also set up operations in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Nevada. (Mail-Tribune, 9/21/04).

  • Your efforts in West Virginia relied on hiring temporary workers who were instructed to mislead potential voters – particularly Democrats.  Workers were told to portray themselves as non-partisan, but to only register Republicans.  One former worker called your efforts “unethical” and “sneaky.”  (Charleston Gazette, 8/20/04).

  • In Nevada, former employees of Voters Outreach for America (AKA “America Votes”), have exposed the organization’s practice of destroying registration forms completed by Democrats.  When called for comment by a reporter, your group’s local office had been vacated and unavailable to respond.  The FBI is now investigating.  And the Oregon Secretary of State is investigating similar allegations in that state.

  • Your organization has placed classified advertisements around the country looking for staff.  These advertisements are paid for by the Republican National Committee.  In fact, the Republican National Committee has paid Sproul & Associates close to half a million dollars this election cycle.

America Votes is a coalition of many of the largest membership-based groups in the country, who have come together to increase voter registration, education and participation in electoral politics. Founded in July, 2003, this historic partnership represents a combined membership of more than 20 million Americans in every state in the country. Groups that are part of America Votes work on a broad range of issues including environmental protection, education, human and civil rights, women's rights, choice and labor. At the national and state levels, America Votes partner organizations have joined together to share research and information in order to reach out to voters and encourage greater voter participation.

 

Given our commitment to expanding the political process for every American, you will understand my dismay that your group was taking such blatant steps to disenfranchise potential voters, and using our name to do it.

 

When asked in an interview with an Oregon newspaper about the conflict with using our name, you said, “If they even just pick up the phone and call ... we would change it in a heartbeat.”

 

Consider this that phone call.

 

We ask that you refrain from using the name “America Votes” in any of your activities from this point forward.

 

But more importantly, we ask that you immediately stop all dishonest, unethical, and potentially illegal activity.

 

The American people deserve better.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Cecile Richards

President

America Votes



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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE FAKE AMERICA VOTES AND NATHAN SPROUL

 

America Votes?

 

News of another America Votes is reported in Oregon. “A local librarian checking on a company’s request to set up a voter registration booth in the library discovered the company was not affiliated with a non-partisan national group as it claimed.

Sproul & Associates, Inc. of Phoenix, AZ, phoned and mailed the library in September, saying it had been hired by America Votes. That came as news to America Votes.  That came as news to America Votes.

"This organization (Sproul) absolutely has nothing to do with America Votes," said Kevin Looper, the state organizing director for America Votes.

America Votes is a non-partisan political organization formed in July 2003 to increase voter registration, education and participation in electoral politics.

Libraries in Oregon and other states have been contacted by Sproul. Looper said attorneys at America Votes’ Washington, D.C. headquarters have taken over. ” [Source: Mail Tribune (OR), 9/21/04]

More states involved… “Sue Noel, a temporary employee at Sproul & Associates, said the voter drive is called Project America Votes and she knew about the redundant name.

She said the company already has set up registration drives in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Nevada. In addition to libraries, they’ve set up registration drives in front of businesses and grocery stores, she said.” [Source: Mail Tribune (OR) , 9/21/04

 

West Virginia:  “After spending more than an hour with Charleston personnel agency Kelly Services last week, Bragg was hired. "They wouldn't tell us at first what this job was," the 37-year-old Bragg said Thursday.

 

Then she found out it was registering Republican voters at One Stop convenience stores throughout the Charleston region.”…

 

Bragg feels her employers were misleading the public, even if it's not illegal. Employees were to approach One Stop customers and ask if they favor George Bush or John Kerry for president. If Bush was their answer, they were then to inquire if the person was registered to vote and offer them a voter registration card. If the person supported Democrat Kerry, they were only to say thank you and give them a registration card only if asked.

 

If asked questions, employees were instructed, "Only state you are there to conduct a simple field poll to see what neighborhood support is ... a nonpartisan registration drive."

 

They were told to quietly listen to any person who becomes angry and to remember, "The goal is to register Republicans and to remain positive."

"Is this the way it has to be? People have to be sneaky to make $9 an hour?" Bragg said.  Employees were also given the number of a Kelly Services employee to contact if there are problems. Contacted Wednesday, two different employees said they would have someone from Sproul & Associates, the firm paying for the survey, answer any questions. [Source: Charleston Gazette , 08/20/04]

 

The False America Votes is accused of trashing registration forms signed by Democrats. “Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected. The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

 

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations. Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

 

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee. [Source: KLAS-TV Channel 8 News in Las Vegas, 10/12/04]

 

Oregon investigating a similar compliant.  “Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Attorney General Hardy Myers plan to investigate allegations that a paid canvasser might have destroyed voter registration forms.

 

"There have been allegations made that someone threw out some voter registration forms that had been submitted to them," Bradbury told The Associated Press late Tuesday. "This is a violation of the law and I will meet with the attorney general in the morning to talk about what we can do to pursue this, and to make sure it doesn't happen again."

 

Bradbury learned of the conduct from KGW-TV, which interviewed Mike Johnson, 20, a canvasser who said he was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms. He told the TV reporter that he "might" destroy forms turned in by Democrats.

 

"I have never in my five years as secretary of state ever seen an allegation like the one that came up tonight — ever," Bradbury said. "I mean, frankly, it just totally offends me that someone would take someone else's registration and throw it out." [Source: Associated Press , 10/13/04]

 

Voter Outreach of America ad “Paid for by RNC.” 

 

VOA has used temp workers at its voter registration campaigns.  One such ad for temp workers posted on Careerbuilder.com notes the following disclaimer:

 

“Paid for by the Republican National Committee. www.gop.com. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.”

 

See the ad here (a picture of the ad is included below if the link is taken down.)

http://nonprofit.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Jobs/JobDetails.aspx?Job_DID=JQ5WL605V900TFY6WG

 

Who is Nathan Sproul? 

Sproul’s firm Sproul and Associates is spearheading the false America Votes petition drive.  “A local librarian checking on a company’s request to set up a voter registration booth in the library discovered the company was not affiliated with a non-partisan national group as it claimed.

 

Sproul & Associates, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., phoned and mailed the library in September, saying it had been hired by America Votes. That came as news to America Votes.” [Source: Mail Tribune (OR) , 9/21/04]

 

His background…Kyl campaign, AZ Christian Coalition, AZ Republican Party to opening his own firm Sproul and Associates: “Sproul, who was born and raised in Tempe, has floated between religious and secular politics. He interned in the office of then-Rep. Jon Kyl during his successful 1994 run for the U.S. Senate, a campaign buoyed by Kyl's perfect voting score from the Christian Coalition. Sproul then worked for the Arizona Christian Coalition, eventually becoming head of that organization. He became executive director of the state Republican party in 1999, stepping down in January 2002.” [Source: Arizona Republic, 06/28/04]

 

Sproul also has ties to the Nader for President petition efforts.  “In addition, according to several sources, the Nader campaign was assisted in its petition drive by an unlikely figure: the ultra-conservative former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party, Nathan Sproul. Sources say Sproul -- who is also spearheading an initiative to block public funding from political campaigns in the state -- made payments to the petition contractors working on his public-funding initiative to gather signatures for Nader as well.” [Source: Max Blumenthal, "Nader's Dubious Raiders", The American Prospect Online, Jun 25, 2004.]

 

Sproul’s education organization received funds from Bush’s No Child Left Behind Legislation.  “Nathan Sproul, who helped spearhead the GOP's successful plan for political redistricting, will step down as executive director at the end of January. His new job will be regional president of an education organization called Voyager Learning, which recently expanded into Arizona and Texas.” [Source: Arizona Republic, 09/01/03]

 

If you follow this link you’ll see that Sproul’s company Voyager Learning received a funds from No Child Left Behind in both NV and AZ (http://www.doe.nv.gov/nclb/providers/SY2003supplist.htm) (http://www.ade.az.gov/asd/title1/ses/SSproviderschart.doc)

 

This cycle Sproul and Associates have received nearly half-a million dollars from the Republican National Committee [Source: Center for Responsive Politics]

 

SPROUL & ASSOCIATES,INC

$488,957

5

 

http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/expend.asp?txtName=s&Cmte=RNC&cycle=2004&sort=name

 

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