PDF of 2004 Letter from Senators Leahy, Kennedy et al. to AG John Ashcroft Seeking Investigation of Nathan Sproul Firm for Voter Registration Fraud
ORRIN G. HATCH, UTAH, CHAIRMAN
CHARLESE. GRASSLEY, IOWA PATRICKJ. LEAHY,VERMONT
ARLEN SPECTER,PENNSYLVANIA EDWARD M. KENNEDY, MASSACHUSETIS
JON KYL,ARIZONA JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR., DELAWARE
MIKE DeWINE, OHIO HERBERTKOHL,WISCONSIN
JEFF SESSIONS, ALABAMA DIANNE FEINSTEIN,CALIFORNIA
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD,WISCONSIN
LARRY CRAIG, IDAHO CHARLES E. SCHUMER, NEW YORK
SAXBY CHAMBliSS, GEORGIA RICHARDJ. DURBIN, ILLINOIS
JOHN CORNYN, TEXAS JOHN EDWARDS, NORTH CAROLINA
BRUCEARTIM, CHIEFCOUNSEL AND STAFF DIRECTOR
BRUCEA. COHEN, DEMOCRATIC CHIEFCOUNSEL AND STAFF DIRECTOR
October 14, 2004
The Honorable John Ashcroft
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
WASHINGTON, DC 20510-6275
We write with profound and urgent concern about news reports of the systematic
destruction of registration forms submitted by Democratic voters in Nevada and Oregon.
As you know, it has been alleged in the last two days that Voters Outreach of America, a
private company under contract with the Republican National Committee, has solicited
voter registration forms in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, and Portland, Oregon, only to
destroy hundreds or even thousands of registration forms submitted by Democrats. Ifthe
allegations are true, many citizens who have every reason to believe they are registered to
vote will be turned away from the polls on November 2.
The company, which is run by Nathan Sproul, the former head of the Arizona Republican
Party, reportedly also has run registration drives in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio,
Minnesota, West Virginia, and Florida, leading to fears that similar illegal activity may
be occurring or may already have occurred in those states. Indeed, there are widespread
allegations of the fIrm’s misconduct – in addition to the allegations that it has destroyed
voter registration forms, librarians in Oregon have recently alleged that the fIrm falsely
attempted by phone and mail to deceive them into believing Voters Outreach of America
was engaging in a nonpartisan voter registration drive.
The level of our concern has been heightened by the comments yesterday by FBI Special
Agent David Schrom that were reported by the Associated Press. Special Agent Schrom
told the AP that no Federal investigation had been launched either in Las Vegas or in
Reno, and he suggested that any investigation would likely fall under State jurisdiction.
These statements are in apparent conflict with assurances made yesterday by
representatives of your Civil Rights Division, who stated that the matter was under
investigation by the Department’s Criminal Division.
In light of these disturbing allegations and scattered public reports of other voter fraud
activities, please respond to the following questions as quickly as possible:
(1) Has the Department of Justice opened an investigation of the allegations that
Democratic registration forms were destroyed by Voters Outreach of American in
Nevada? liso, who is in charge of this investigation?
(2) Has the Department opened an investigation in Oregon? If so, who is in charge of
(3) Has the Department opened an investigation in any other States in which Voters
Outreach of America has operated? If so, in which States? Please provide the
person or people in charge of each such investigation.
(4) Leaving aside the merits of the particular allegations at issue in Nevada and
Oregon, do you believe that it violates any Federal law, or implicates any Federal
interest, to destroy voter registration forms based on partisan affiliation in
advance of a Federal election?
(5) If these allegations are found to be sound and in violation of Federal criminal law,
what efforts can and will the Department of Justice undertake to make whole the
victims of this fraud? Will you work, beginning immediately, with the States of
Nevada and Oregon to ensure that citizens whose registration forms were
destroyed will be able to vote in the November 2 election?
The right to vote is the most basic right that any American citizen has in participating in
their government. Americans have died and are dying to defend that right. The
Department of Justice has the responsibility to vigorously defend the registration and
voting process from those who may conspire to subvert it for their own partisan purposes.
We, in our oversight capacity concerning the work of the Department of Justice, and the
American people, in their interest in protecting the most basic sacred right, need
immediate assurances that all that should be done is being done to vigorously defend the
public’s voting rights, and that full remedies to restore voting access will be promptly
implemented if they are warranted. At the very least, you should launch an immediate
investigation into the activities ofMr. Sproul and his firm and collect the information
needed to allow you to alert local authorities to potential problems on Election Day, so
those officials, with other appropriate authorities, can make immediate preparations to
deal with the defrauded registrants fairly and efficiently. The response that we have seen
so far is not encouraging and pales in comparison to the seriousness ofthese allegations.
Given the urgency ofthis matter, we ask for at least an interim response to these
questions by Tuesday, October 19.
t:.~ PATRICK LEAHY
United States Senator