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Embattled consultant hires workers in canvassing effort

Republican party fired him amid voter-fraud imbroglio

By Joseph Tanfani

Tribune Washington Bureau

Published: Saturday, Oct. 13 2012 10:14 p.m. MDT

WASHINGTON (MCT) — The political consultant fired by the Republican National Committee amid fraud allegations in Florida is now hiring workers for a voter canvassing operation this fall in as many as 30 states, his spokesman said.

Nathan Sproul, whose career as a GOP get-out-the-vote consultant has been dogged by reports of fraudulent registrations, has been advertising for $15-an-hour workers for "conservative voter identification" in Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa.

"No experience is necessary!" says the ad, first reported by the liberal blog BlueNC. "All you need to qualify is a positive attitude and a strong work ethic to get the job done." The ad says applicants must pass a criminal background check.

Sproul was hired this year by the RNC to register and canvass voters in eight swing states, under the name of Strategic Allied Consulting. Sproul told the Los Angeles Times that he set up that company because RNC officials, fearful of bad publicity, wanted to conceal his role in the operation.

Sean Spicer, an RNC spokesman, said that never happened. He said the party believed that Sproul had strong systems in place to prevent such problems, but dumped him after the allegations surfaced because it has "zero tolerance" for fraud.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, announced Friday that Sproul had refused to cooperate with his request for information. As a member of the minority party, Cummings can't compel Sproul to cooperate.

"This obstruction is particularly disturbing in light of Sproul's own statements that he worked with the RNC to conceal his shady record," Cummings said. "This is not a 'zero tolerance' policy, this is an orchestrated campaign to hide the truth."

In a letter to Cummings, attorney Frederick R. Petti said Sproul "appreciates your offer," but thinks it's a better idea to "stay outside the realm of politics, especially given the closeness of Election Day." He said Sproul is continuing to cooperate with Florida officials in their fraud investigation.

For the latest work, Sproul is using a company called Issue Advocacy Partners, set up in April at an attorney's office in Delaware. Like the company hired by the RNC, Strategic Allied Consulting, the Delaware company does not list Sproul's name as an officer.

This spring, Issue Advocacy Partners was paid $500,000 by the Wisconsin Republican Party for work during the recall race of Gov. Scott Walker, campaign finance reports show.

David Leibowitz, a Sproul spokesman, would not identify who's paying for the latest campaign, citing confidentiality agreements with the client, but said Issue Advocacy Partners isn't working for the Republican Party and isn't registering voters. He would not provide details about his new get-out-the-vote effort.

The RNC sent more than $3 million to state party committees to fund Sproul's get-out-the-vote efforts this year.

The Republican Party of Florida filed an elections fraud complaint released Friday against Strategic Allied Consultants, and authorities began an investigation after suspect voter registration forms cropped up in 10 Florida counties.

Other suspicious registration forms tied to Sproul have turned up in North Carolina, and there have been scattered reports of registration irregularities in Nevada and Colorado.

In Florida, Paul Lux, Okaloosa County's supervisor of elections, reported that he saw forms that had missing information and some that possibly represented dead people, according to the complaint.

"Another application contained the name 'Robert Johnson' with a street address of 'Wexler Street,' " the complaint says. "The application was signed by 'Robert Wexler' instead of 'Robert Johnson.'"

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