When a political organization gets caught in an embarrassing misstep, one of the first things to look for is a pattern of behavior. Looking at the story on the merits obviously matters, but so too does the group’s record – an entity’s track record speaks to its credibility.
With that in mind, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity may be developing a reputation that it would prefer to avoid.
We talked yesterday about AFP sending out incorrect voting materials to many North Carolina households, which is apparently serious enough to warrant an investigation from the state board of elections. Zack Roth also reported on a 2011 incident in which AFP “sent out absentee ballot applications for eight Wisconsin state Senate recall elections,” giving voters the wrong deadline information.
Reader C.G. emailed me overnight to remind me of yet another incident which I’d forgotten all about. The Charleston Gazette reported in April of this year:
Voters in at least eight West Virginia counties have been mailed “misleading and confusing” material that may make them incorrectly believe they aren’t eligible to vote in next month’s election, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said Tuesday.The leaflets – mailed by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation – warn voters that if they do not update their voter registration, they may lose their right to vote in the upcoming primary election on May 13…. Tuesday was the last day to register to vote for the May 13 primary, and a Tennant spokesman said the mailing could convince people whose voter registrations are perfectly valid that they aren’t allowed to vote.
The concerns were well grounded. The AFP mailing told West Virginians, “As a good citizen who values their Constitutional right to vote, we are reminding you to update your voter registration. Updating your registration before the deadline ensures you do not lose your right to vote in the upcoming election.”
In reality, most of these voters did not need to update their registration and their voting rights were not at risk. Local officials conceded they received confused calls from the public.
A spokesperson for the conservative group conceded at the time, “There may have been a few mistakes.”
You don’t say.
It brings us back to a good point Zach Roth raised yesterday:
As for AFP itself, there’s an irony here. ACORN was hounded out of existence thanks largely to sloppy procedures in its voter registration drives, which let some employees turn in registration forms that had fraudulent information. AFP and its allies seized on those mistakes to allege massive voter fraud, with essentially no evidence to support the charge.Even assuming Americans for Prosperity is guilty only of honest mistakes, it may have a similar sloppiness problem to ACORN.
Agreed. If we were talking about a typo on a form in one state, it wouldn’t be worth talking about. But there’s arguably a pattern emerging with this conservative group and the claims it makes to voters.
The AFP’s reputation should be shaped accordingly.