Monday, November 13, 2006

Michael Steele for RNC Chairman? Not So Fast--Resolve Serious Steele/Ehrlich Election Fraud Issues First

There's been a fair amount of talk, at least in the press and the blogosphere, about naming Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele the replacement for outgoing Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

We can't tell how seriously Republicans are taking this talk, but if they're serious, they'd better slow down.

Michael Steele ran a decent campaign for Senate in Maryland against Democrat Ben Cardin for the open seat left by Paul Sarbanes' retirement. His television ads were fresh--albeit seriously lacking in substance. Steele is a relatively young, attractive guy, and as an African-American could literally put a new face on the Republican Party.

Steele, however, is ensnared in an incipient election scandal that we haven't heard the last of yet. Indeed, a criminal investigation is warranted and it's not likely that victorious Democrats in Maryland are going to let this one go.

Here's what happened: Shortly before the election, the campaigns of both Steele and Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (also a Republican, running for re-election--unsucessfully) together hired six busloads of African-Americans from Philadelphia, many of them homeless, to distribute campaign literature on election day in black wards of Baltimore and Prince Georges County. So far, so good--we have no problem with hiring people to hand out literature on election day (notably, Republicans couldn't get African-American VOLUNTEERS to do this traditional volunteer work).

The problem is with what the paid workers were handing out: glossy brochures with photos of black Democratic leaders on the front, containing headlines reading "Democratic Sample Ballot" and then listing Steele and Ehrlich, with red check marks, along with a list of local Democratic candidates. Nothing in the brochures identified Steele and Ehrlich as Republicans.

There were other similar efforts to mislead black voters in Maryland. The Ehrlich and Steele campaigns mailed glossy brochures to voters in predominantly black Prince Georges County that had pictures of PG County Executive Jack Johnson, his predecessor, Wayne Curry, and former NAACP president/Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume. Above the pictures, the flier read, "Ehrlich-Steele Democrats" and underneath it said "These are OUR choices." Yet neither Johnson, Curry nor Mfume had endorsed Ehrlich, and only Curry had endorsed Steele (which has simply made Curry very unpopular in PG county).

Similarly misleading brochures showed up in Baltimore before the election as well.

This, my friends, is FRAUD. The Curmudgeon believes in giving political campaigns a lot of leeway in what they say and do in a campaign, mainly because the 1st Amendment is paramount here. But, there is a line one cannot cross, and these brochures from Steele and Ehrlich's campaign go far across that line. You simply cannot put out brochures saying--or clearly implying--that someone who had not endorsed you (indeed, has endorsed your opponent)--supports you. Nor can you say you are a Democrat when you're not.

What is particularly troubling here is that these brochures were aimed solely at African-American communities, on the assumption that black voters are somehow particularly gullible. And it's not the first time the Ehrlich/Steele campaign did it. In the 2002 Gubernatorial race, where Ehrlich and Steele ran together, the campaign used a similar tactic with glossy brochures using pictures of black Democratic leaders and falsely implying their support for the GOP duo.

Given this is the second time, Democrats should demand complete accountability of the Steele and Ehrlich campaigns, up to and including Steele and Ehrlich themselves. This was no small, last minute campaign event organized by a lowly campaign worker--it was an expensive, highly organized and orchestrated effort that had to have been approved at or near the top of the campaigns. Indeed, First Lady Kendel Ehrlich greeted the hired workers from Philadelphia early on election day, before they fanned out with their fraudulent brochures.

Today's Washington Post cites an anonymous source associated with Erhlich's campaign as saying that the purpose of the fliers was to "peel away one or two percentage points in jurisdictions where the governor would be running behind." That, of course, might be enough to swing a particularly close election.

Republicans would be unwise to select Steele as RNC chairman with this scandal hanging over his head. Instead of courting black voters, they might simply end up further offending African-Americans if they install as their party's chief a man who tried to trick blacks into voting for him.

Indeed, if Republicans are serious about seeking votes from African-Americans, they should ask for a vigorous and complete investigation of the actions of the Steele/Ehrlich campaigns, as well as push for guidelines making clear that these kind of campaign tactics are not to be tolerated. Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Institutional Election Fraud is Weapon of Mass Destruction- by Kautilya Hegel
November 13, 2006, Philadelphia, Monday, 1:00 PM. (1) FAULTY ELECTION PROCESS: The vested interests might have compromised the faulty election process in major democracies of the world, namely, USA as well as India, which allows those empowered to supervise the Election process to conspire the election process to deny the Third Party and Independent Voters, their fair share of political power and election victories. If entrenched interests continue to sabotage the free and fair election system in India and USA to keep the entrenched politicians in power, then the Democracy as an institution is under grave threat in USA and India.
(2) ELECTION FRAUD IS WMD: The institutionalized election frauds, carried out by those responsible for the free fair and impartial conduct of Elections in USA, Russia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and etc., presents greatest threat to human civilization in 21st century. Election Frauds in major democratic nations allow mediocre less competent leadership capture levers of political power in USA as well as India, scuttling the rise of Civilization States of USA and India.
(3) OUTDATED CONSTITUTIONS: Every constitution of democratic nations needs a total facelift by New Constitutional Assembly, convened every fifty years. The US Constitution of 1777 and Indian Constitution of 1950 have become outdated and require total redrafting at hands of new Constitutional Assemblies. United States requires a Federal Election Commission, responsible for the conduct of the entire election process in Federal, State and Local Elections. The 4500+ County Canvassing Boards allows party officials appointed by the two major parties, hijack the will of the people. In India the practice of appointing government officials in election commission requires scrutiny. The Electronic Voting machines without a paper trail operated and managed by political party appointed election officials at the County Canvassing Boards made the mockery of American Democracy in election 2006. The two leading political parties in USA as well as India could be part of an organized conspiracy to steal elections.
(4) GLOBAL ELECTION WATCH: USA and India should allow international observers to watch the conduct of elections. Let us debate: Whether the election process in USA or India prone to election frauds and what could be possible remedies. Kautilya Hegel invites International volunteers to supervise elections process and conduct of elections worldwide. Let us create an Election Watch organization in every city of the world, and volunteers for Election Watch worldwide, which would also supervise US Elections of 2008 and next Parliamentary Elections in India.
Professor Kautilya Hegel, Director- Election Watch, Inc.,,;