Charges of voter fraud, calls for investigations fly in Virginia

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Photo - U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (Examiner file photo)
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (Examiner file photo)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Virginia election officials called for an investigation of potential voter fraud in the state Wednesday and the son of a Democratic congressman resigned from his dad's campaign in a flurry of eleventh-hour political maneuvering in the battleground state.

The Virginia State Board of Elections voted unanimously to ask state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate the voter fraud claims against an employee of Strategic Allied Consulting, who was caught throwing voter registration forms in the trash.

Cuccinelli immediately pledged to investigate the charges two weeks out from Election Day.

"This office will perform a thorough investigation of these very serious allegations," Cuccinelli said in a statement. "Violations of election laws will not be tolerated in the commonwealth."

The fraud charges involve Pennsylvania resident Colin Small, an employee of Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm that once did work for Republicans. Small was arrested last Friday in Harrisonburg, Va., and charged with 13 counts of disclosure of voter registration information, destruction of voter applications and obstruction of justice.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and the two other Democratic congressmen from Virginia called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a multistate inquiry of Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm that does voter registration work.

"The number of allegations in a multitude of locations would seem to suggest something more than the isolated acts of 'a few bad apples,' " the congressmen wrote.

Shortly after Moran and the other Democrats called for a federal investigation of the Republican-affiliated consultant, a conservative group headed by activist James O'Keefe released a video of Moran's son, Patrick, discussing a scheme to commit voter fraud.

In the video, Patrick Moran is approached by a man claiming to have the names of 100 Virginia residents who are registered to vote but unlikely to do so. The man, who is holding a hidden camera, asks Moran how he can cast votes for those Virginians.

Moran encourages the man to focus his time on legitimate get-out-the-vote efforts. But he also tells the man to forge utility bills with the names and addresses of the 100 Virginians and use those documents as a form of voter ID when casting votes in their name.

"So, if they just have the utility bill or bank statement -- bank statement would obviously be tough -- but faking a utility bill would be easy enough," Moran says in the video.

Patrick Moran, the field director for his father's re-election campaign, announced his resignation just hours after the video was released.

The Republican challenging Jim Moran in the Nov. 6 election, retired Col. Patrick Murray, has repeatedly questioned Moran on ethical issues and late Wednesday called for an investigation of the incumbent's campaign. Murray described the incident involving Moran's son as "more of the same embarrassing behavior that we've come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign."

"The integrity of our nation is at stake," Murray said, "and it appears that my opponent's campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia."

 

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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