More on "the Most Corrupt Election":
I just wanted to add a quick note agreeing with Jonathan and disagreeing with Jim about the amount of corruption in the 2008 election. We've seen a dramatic shift this cycle in the amount of media and party interest in identifying cases of alleged corruption and on voting irregularities generally. Both the parties and the press were looking much more closely at this issue than they used to. (Just by way of example, I spent most of today in the basement of the RNC helping to staff the RNC Response Center that received calls from its nationwide phone number advertised to report possible irregularities; my understanding is that the RNC had never done such a thing before.) My sense is that the news reports reflect increased sensitivity to the issue more than anything else.
Now what are the odds that those crying fraud will believe you? You've got the RNC credentials going for you, but given what I've seen here today, I'm not sure that's enough to shake the voter-fraud hysteria.
11.5.2008 12:21am
Cold Warrior:
The voter fraud stories will now disappear -- that is, disappear everywhere but on the right-wing talk shows (Limbaugh, Hannity).

Reason? The election wasn't close.

The fraud stories were all about pre-conditioning the public and judges for post-election litigation, and ultimately for de-legitimizing an Obama victory. But that strategy was predicated on a reasonably close electoral college victory in which one or two key states could've changed the outcome. And it wasn't even close.
11.5.2008 12:52am
anon345 (mail):
No. The fraud story is about questioning the legitimacy of an Obama presidency. The only fraud I know that was important was the post election military vote in Florida.
11.5.2008 1:06am
The relative degree of voting fraud rose somewhat but not an alarming amount. There was a frightening change, however, in it changing from local, or at most state-wide, efforts, to becoming a centrally directed nation-wide criminal conspiracy rooted in a major party and presidential campaign. Make that winning presidential campaign, so this centralized criminal conspiracy is therefore immune from criminal prosecution and congressional investigation.
11.5.2008 1:16am
Doodad Pro (mail):

Make that winning presidential campaign, so this centralized criminal conspiracy is therefore immune from criminal prosecution and congressional investigation.

If McCain had won, there might have been an investigation into how the Obama campaign had benefited (perhaps massively) from foreign contributions via its website (which collected hundreds of millions of dollars). But that's unlikely now.
11.5.2008 1:31am
LM (mail):

11.5.2008 1:32am
11.5.2008 1:38am
I also predict that we are about to see THE most corrupt Congress in 50+ years. I expect its larger Democratic majorities will enact large tax increases, nominally on the alleged "wealthy", and signed into law by President Obama, which will then be used by both parties in Congress as income opportunities.

I.e., they'll sell tax breaks to the politically connected for campaign contributions so the Treasury will get a net zero in additional revenue. Which won't stop the same Congress from making mammoth spending increases which will then be paid with budget deficits, i.e., inflation whose cost will be borne in the future by retirees and the middle class.
11.5.2008 1:45am
James Lindgren (mail):
Orin, I just posted a "Response to Adler on Corruption."

Jonathan takes issue with this statement of mine in an earlier post:

It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, and yet this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime.

To support this claim, I pointed to three things:

1. tens or hundreds of thousands of illegal voter registrations,

2. illegal campaign contributions, including illegal foreign contributions,

3. the press's performance.

I concluded by hoping that "the voting today is not so close that it was likely determined by voter fraud or tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions," a hope that was borne out by the substantial margin for President-elect Obama.

Jonathan disagrees with my conclusion, but the only arguments that he raises in response are that:

(1) "it does not look like corrupt election practices actually affected the outcome in any national races," and

(2) "it might appear to some [because of more press and internet coverage] that there is more bad stuff going on, but I haven't seen any solid evidence that this is in fact the case."

Jonathan's first point essentially agrees with my assertion in my original post, so that's not grounds for disagreeing. I would dispute Jonathan's second point quite vigorously and would ask him which year since 1952 was more corrupt and what arguments or evidence he has for such a claim. In some of the early elections (eg, 1952, 1956, and 1960), African-American voters were suppressed quite substantially by poll taxes and the like, but that is not the sort of "corruption" I was talking about. As I made clear, I pointed to the extent of phony registrations, illegal contributions, and press bias.


In my post, I linked as evidence to John Fund's piece at Politico:

Anita MonCrief [is] an ACORN whistle-blower who worked for both it and its Project Vote registration affiliate from 2005 until early this year . . . . MonCrief, a 29-year old University of Alabama graduate who wanted to become part of the civil rights movement, worked as a strategic consultant for ACORN as well as a development associate with Project Vote and sat in on meetings with the national staffs of both groups. She has given me documents that back up many of her statements, including one that indicates that the goal of ACORN's New Mexico affiliate was that only 40 percent of its submitted registrations had to be valid.

MonCrief also told me that some ACORN affiliates had a conscious strategy of flooding voter registration offices with suspect last-minute forms in part to create confusion and chaos that would make it more likely suspect voters would be allowed to cast ballots by overworked officials. Nate Toller, who worked on ACORN registration drives and headed an ACORN campaign against Wal-Mart in California until 2006, agrees.

Here is a small sampling of the fraud that has been uncovered so far:

Indiana — More than 2,000 voter registration forms filed in northern Indiana's Lake County filled out by ACORN employees turned out to be bogus. Officials also stopped processing a stack of about 5,000 applications delivered just before the October 6 registration deadline after the first 2,100 turned out to be phony.

Connecticut — Officials are looking into a complaint alleging ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration cards in Bridgeport. In one instance, an official said a card was filled out for a 7-year-old girl, whose age was listed as 27. 8,000 cards were submitted in Bridgeport.

Missouri — The Kansas City election board is reporting 100 duplicate applications and 280 with fake information. Acorn officials agreed that at least 4% of their registrations were bogus. Governor Matt Blunt condemned the attempts by ACORN to commit voter fraud.

Pennsylvania — Officials are investigating suspicious or incomplete registration forms submitted by ACORN. 252,595 voter registrations were submitted in Philadelphia. Remarkably, 57,435 were rejected — most of them submitted by ACORN. . . .

Texas — Of the 30,000 registration cards ACORN turned in, Harris County tax assessor Paul Bettencourt says just more than 20,000 are valid. And just look at some of the places ACORN was finding those voters. A church just next door is the address for around 150 people. More than 250 people claim a homeless outreach center as their home address. Some listed a county mental health facility as their home and one person even wrote down the Harris County jail at the sheriff's office. . . .

That's not all. So far this year at least 14 states have started investigations against ACORN. Talk about a culture of corruption. It is so bad that Representatives of Congress have asked for the Justice Department to investigate.

ACORN has registered over 1.3 million voters this year. If their GOAL is only to have 40% of them legitimate, then there probably are hundreds of thousands of illegal registrations. Indeed, just the short list above includes over 70,000 fraudulent registrations. Jonathan, I've never heard of national registration fraud on such a grand scale.

In Indianapolis, over 105% of adults eligible to register are registered. That's more registered voters than there are adults (national rates of registration are only 72%).

Jonathan, if you have any reason to think that any other election in my lifetime had a similar level of phony registrations, please explain the basis for your claim. Before ACORN, we never had a national organization that was set up to promote so much voter registration fraud, so I can't see how you would defend that claim. Organizations such as the League of Women Voters were never engaged in systematic registration fraud like this.


There are at least seven reasons to believe that illegal campaign contributions are more widespread in 2008 than in any election since at least 1952:

1. Computer use is higher and online contributions are easier to make than they have ever been before. Just a few years ago, most contributions were made by check, which left a paper trail.

2. The incentive and desire by foreign nationals to contribute to Obama is higher than in any prior election. (Before this year, I don't remember any foreign public officials publicly admitting that foreign nationals were raising money for American presidential candidates.)

3. The Obama campaign disabled the normal credit card address verification feature on their website so that making illegal foreign and excess US donations was made much easier.

4. According to foreign newspaper and internet reports, the Obama campaign has repeatedly sent requests for money to foreign nationals who are prohibited from contributing.

5. There are many false names and occupations on the released lists of donors.

6. There are many suspicious patterns and amounts of donations just in the incomplete data that was reported.

7. The Obama campaign has refused to release the list of donors under $200 as the McCain has done.

Because illegal contributions are so much easier to make than ever before, it would be strange if there weren't more illegal contributions. Why wouldn't there be more illegal foreign contributions this year when the Obama campaign is the first to send frequent emails to foreign nationals asking for money? Jonathan, do you know of any reports that Kerry, Gore, or Bush did this in prior years?

There are many reports of illegal fundraising and illegal contributions. Here is just one summary:


Gadhafi is not the only foreign official to talk about foreigners making donations. According to one internet account, a prominent Spanish official admitted on TV that he had donated to Obama's campaign.

More accounts of registration, voting, and contribution irregularities are here, here, here, here, here, and here.


In my original post, I gave three reasons why in my opinion 2008 was the most corrupt election in my lifetime (even if, as I expected, it probably didn't affect the outcome):

1. illegal voter registrations,

2. illegal campaign contributions, and

3. the press's performance.

I was quite specific about the three facets of this year's corruption.

I have supported the first two with arguments and evidence. Given the massive illegal voter registrations this year, I find it hard to see how Jonathan could disagree on my first point.

On my second point, I don't see how there couldn't be more illegal donations this year, given the switch from donations by check to donations by computer, the lax controls, and the frequent fundraising emails to foreign nationals. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that the greatly increased press reports of illegal donations are just the result of better reporting (as both Jonathan and Orin seem to imply).

The third type of corruption -- press bias — is so obvious and so widely recognized by the public and by many elites that I doubt that Jonathan would challenge me on that, so I won't waste his time on that point in an already very long post.

I gave three reasons why this election was the most corrupt since 1952. Jonathan, please indicate which election since 1952 was more corrupt than this one, and why? You never say (nor does Orin in his post).
11.5.2008 3:30am
Sorry, 1 is a straw-man or at best an example of how badly we run elections. You bring up voter registration fraud hoping people will skip the registration part or assume that some level of registration fraud equals actual illegal votes. The data don't follow. Just use the past 8 years in the Bush Justice department as an example. Years of looking for these illegal votes and they prosecute less than 50 cases nation wide over two four federal elections. I'm underwhelmed.

As for ACORN, again I have a hard time getting worked up when then organization responsible for flagging bad registration forms and turning in perpetrators is ACORN itself! Beyond this, ACORN is a decentralized organization with most power at the state level so to try and gin up a national conspiracy doesn't wash. Added to this, ACORN looses in this equation because (a) they had to pay for these registrations in worker hours, (b) those extra registrations won't equal illegal votes, but (c) they get blamed for illegal vote casting!

Further, voter registration fraud is the price we pay when we don't bother with a simpler government funded registration process. Too much government, maybe. But in some states people who don't drive can find it extremely hard to register (or they're purged for not checking their mail).

As to 2, I have a hard time getting worked up about this. Frankly, if Obama really wanted to get more cash why use such a roundabout system. He'd do what he and every other candidate has done, allow the party and other organization to raise and spend money for him.
11.5.2008 3:58am

I atarted out with the SEC's Enforcement Division and know bit about proving civil conspiracy, and what is required to hand off investigations to state and federal prosecutors.

The Obama campaign has, IMO, qualified as a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization as defined in 18 USC 1961, et seq, with the predicate acts being interstate wire fraud. There is no chance such charges will ever be brought.

And it is tied with ACORN via conspiracy, with that charge being an agreement to act in concert to achieve a lawful act (Obama's election as President) by the use of unlawful means (wire fraud by Obama's campaign - the predicate RICO acts) - and election fraud by ACORN.
11.5.2008 11:14am
TH - are those grapes sour enough for you? RICO? That's pretty funny.

I'm kind of curious if you think that the system that you describe above with the politically influenced winning tax breaks and mammoth spending increases that will be borne by the costs of our children and their children isn't and hasn't been happening right now - before Obama even steps into office? What is this grand system that exists now that we're all blissfully unaware of?
11.5.2008 11:49am

You'll find out.
11.5.2008 11:53am