News & Politics

Twelve Employees of Dem-tied Group Charged in Indiana for Voter Registration Fraud

Twelve employees who worked for an Indiana voter registration group tied to the Democratic Party were charged Friday for allegedly submitting fake or fraudulent voter registration applications before the 2016 presidential election.

Via Fox News:

The Indiana Voter Registration Project, an Indiana-based group focused on mobilizing and registering black voters, allegedly submitted an unknown number of falsified applications, according to a probable cause affidavit. Eleven canvassers temporarily employed by the group were charged by Marion County prosecutors, along with their supervisor Holiday Burke — with one count each of procuring or submitting voter registration applications known to be “false, fictitious, or fraudulent.”

If convicted, each faces up to two-and-a-half years behind bars. The court could also fine the group $10,000.

Indiana State Police began investigating IVRP back in August after a clerk in Hendricks County flagged about a dozen registration forms with missing or suspicious information.

The investigation eventually expanded to 56 counties.

Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry, a Democrat, said the police investigation found no evidence of voter fraud or voter suppression and that the charges against the workers came from “a very bad, ill-advised business practice” of setting a quota for canvassers.

“By giving someone a financial motive to (meet a quota) is what caused these canvassers to cut corners and do things that not only undermined the goal of having legitimate registered voters but let to a situation where we allege it bled over into criminal conduct,” Curry said.

The “ill-advised business practice” led to “a felon, a minor, a non-U.S. citizen and even a dead person” almost getting on the voter rolls, according to the Indy Star. Police said the group’s canvassers sometimes paid vagrants “with cigarettes or pocket change to fill out the forms.”

The group submitted registrations for people who didn’t exist or who later told detectives they never filled them out, according to 167 pages of charging documents and probable cause affidavits. Among those people were a felon, a non-U.S. citizen, a minor and a woman who lived in Florida.

In at least one case, detectives discovered a registration for a St. Joseph County man who had been dead for six years, the affidavit says. Two other deceased individuals also were discovered among the registrations the group submitted.

Canvassers told detectives they were pressured to collect 10 applications per shift or risk losing their jobs, according to the affidavit. Supervisors advised the canvassers, who were paid $50 to $75 a day, to meet their quotas “by any means necessary,” the affidavit says.

One canvasser told police she and a fellow employee would have a “bum” fill out voter registration forms during each of their shifts. The bum’s reward was a cigarette, she said according to the affidavit.

Another canvasser admitted he went to the public library and looked up information in a phone book to complete his forms.

The investigation found that workers had submitted fake applications for imaginary residents, submitted new applications for people who had already been registered, and at least one application was submitted on behalf of a minor, according to Curry.

“We do not believe this was a widespread effort to infringe voters, intentionally register ineligible individuals, or to impact the election,” Curry said. “Instead we allege that a bad business practice led to illegal actions by the local association and these twelve individuals.”

Left unexplained was why the Indiana Voter Registration Project was pressuring employees to register so many voters.

Detectives, last fall, served a search warrant on the group’s Indianapolis office and confiscated computers. Detectives also found that the group’s purported office location in Gary was actually a vacant lot, according to a police affidavit.

In the affidavit released Friday, police said the voter project’s payroll information traced back to Block By Block, Inc., a Washington, D.C. group closely associated with Field Strategies and the Ardleigh Group.

Field Strategies, a company that provides voter turnout services, has worked with labor unions and campaign committees that work to elect Democrats to the U.S. House and Senate, according to its website.

Last October, PJ Media reported on the dark money group behind the Indiana Voter Registration Project. Patriot Majority USA is run by Craig Varoga, a left-wing Democratic strategist who was a staffer on former President Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign. Varoga also reportedly led efforts to help re-elect then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He now runs several organizations affiliated with Patriot Majority that are funded primarily by labor groups.

Last fall, Patriot Majority USA filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Washington, D.C., regarding how IN State Police First Sgt. William Stoney Vann was conducting the investigation. Varoga accused Stoney Vann of “deliberately obstructing” the Project’s registration efforts and blasted the investigation in a statement: “In conducting their partisan raid, these so-called investigators violated numerous legal standards,” he said.

Patriot Majority asked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to look into whether the police investigation was an attempt to suppress black voters and also launched a national advertising campaign linking the entire investigation back to then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential candidate at the time.

Varoga didn’t respond to the Indy Star’s media inquiries last week, and has been unusually quiet on social media for months. The Democratic operative hasn’t tweeted since early February and hasn’t posted on Facebook since last December.