Republican Firm Tied To Voter Fraud Allegations

Republicans around the country have been vocal in recent years about the need to crack down on voter fraud. And that's caused party officials to scramble to explain how a GOP firm could have been accused of submitting fake voter registrations in a number of Florida counties.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Congressional Democrats are looking into allegations that a Republican consulting firm committed voter registration fraud. The head of the company is an Arizona operative with a reputation for aggressive tactics, as NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee wants to talk to consultant Nathan Sproul. The Republican National Committee last week cut loose Sproul's company, Strategic Allied Consulting, after allegations of voter registration fraud turned up in four swing states where the firm was working for the Republican Party. Florida, North Carolina and Nevada have investigations underway. Sproul's attorney says he's advised Sproul not to give interviews and the lawyer himself declined to speak to NPR. A statement maintains that Strategic Allied Consulting has a zero tolerance policy and it fires contractors who violate the election laws. Republican committees paid the company nearly $3 million this year. Election law professor Rick Hasen at the University of California at Irvine recently published a book, "The Voting Wars." Noting the conservative campaign against voter fraud, he says fraud allegations in voter registration are fairly common. But aside from Nathan Sproul's company, Hasen says...

RICK HASEN: I've not heard of anyone either on the Democratic side or the Republican side where there were allegations that voter registration forms were actually destroyed intentionally.

OVERBY: And Sproul's various companies have a history of such allegations.

STEVE MAY: It's not the first time he's been under attack or where his tactics have been questioned.

OVERBY: Steve May is a former Arizona GOP legislator. He's known Sproul since the mid-1990s.

MAY: He wants to win elections. He gets paid to win elections, and that's what he does.

OVERBY: Among the various allegations over the years against Sproul and his companies: posing as a liberal voter registration group, posing as pollsters to screen out potential Democratic voters, and trashing Democratic registrations instead of turning them in. Some of these allegations have been investigated, but none has ever been prosecuted. In 2004, Sproul was working for the RNC, he also worked to get Ralph Nader on Arizona's presidential ballot presumably to draw off votes from Democrat John Kerry. Bob Grossfeld is a long-time Democratic consultant in Arizona.

BOB GROSSFELD: This is a fellow who knows where the line is, races right up to it, and occasionally just kicks dirt over it, to maybe cover it up a little bit.

OVERBY: And despite his hardball reputation, or maybe because of it, Nathan Sproul gets customers from the Republican Party and scrutiny from the Democrats. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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