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Update to Santa Barbara *Ballot Petition* Fraud

by: Vikingkingq

Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 17:01:06 PM PST

( - promoted by Robert in Monterey)

NOTE: Cross-posted from Daily Kos.

Yesterday, I posted a diary about possible ballot petition fraud going on in Santa Barbara, California related to the Electoral College Initiative that seeks to split California's electoral votes by congressional district.

There have been some developments, so I've decided to post an update.

Vikingkingq :: Update to Santa Barbara *Ballot Petition* Fraud
After I had gotten the initial word out about this, I got a call from the reporter at the Daily Nexus (UC Santa Barbara's student newspaper) about what had happened, and then a second call, and then I sat down for an interview.

So here's what I learned: when the reporter went herself and asked a bunch of questions, the petition gatherers actually described the titles of the three other initiatives. However, when she sent more reporters to "play dumb" and not ask any questions, the petition gatherers said nothing. Hence, the push to get people to sign ballot initiatives they're unaware of seems to be operating on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis.

When they sent yet another reporter to directly interview these petition gatherers, the gatherers got rather close-mouthed, wouldn't give their names for the record, etc. But they did say that they were working for "APC" and gave a website for their company.

APC turns out to be Arno Political Consultants, a well-established conservative petition group founded by Mike Arno in 1979. Some of their  former and current clients include Wal-Mart, Phillip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, Procter & Gamble, Kodak, Occidental Petroleum, Mobil Oil, AT&T, and America Online.

This petition firm has a long history of getting involved in similarly unethical behavior, such as:
- tricking college kids into registering as Republicans in Florida.

- telling California voters that the Electoral College Initiative was actually an anti-war ballot initiative.

- telling Massachusetts voters that an anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative was actually an initiative to allow selling wine in grocery stores

Most importantly, APD has been hired by David Gilliard, Ed Rollins, and Anne Dunsmore, the proponents of the Electoral College Initiative.

As for who those pleasant people are:


So, what's the conclusion here?

One, I don't know if APC tells its workers to commit fraud or doesn't. All I can say is that they have done this kind of thing in the very recent past.

Two, this is not an issue of some third-party or fourth-party signature gatherers who don't know who they're working for, and who are unknown to the proponents of the initiative. These people know they're working for APC, and APC has been hired by the proponents of the petition.

Three, given the fact that they seem to have a consistent policy of not telling people what they're signing if they don't ask, I don't think this is accidental.

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Arno (6.67 / 3)
He's as dirty as the day is long. Doesn't surprise me in the least that he's behind this.

APC is one of the main petitioning companies in CA (0.00 / 0)
  It is generally known as the one that does more of the rightwing ballot measures. Most of the people working on petitions are just after the money: more sigs=more money. It wouldn't surprise me if some do unethical stuff on their own, but it also would not surprise me if they are taught some of the techniques by the sig bosses. Certainly it is very common for the contents of the proposed measure to be oversimplified and misrepresented. Again, most of the petitioners (as opposed to the company owners) are just after the bucks, and more sigs means more money. The company owners are also mostly just after the money, but some have an ideological interest as well.
  I used to do petitioning back in the 1980s and 1990s, but unlike most petitioners, I would only work on things I supported. Because of my political orientation, I rarely did anything through APC. Some people in my area thought their coordinators in my area cheated petitioners; I have no direct knowledge of that. Mostly I didn't work for them because they had bad initiatives I didn't want to help put on the ballot. I do feel good about some of the stuff I worked for (sometimes paid, sometimes volunteer). I helped raise the minimum wage in CA and helped restore Cal-OSHA when Gov. Reaganjian eliminated its funding. I worked various parks bonds and other environmental initiatives. I worked on the bottle and can recycling initiative, which was unusual in that we worked directly for the campaign, rather than through a petitioning company. The initiative process has its positives and negatives.

Michael Arno talks (0.00 / 0)
Michael Arno, Founding Partner of Arno Political Consultants, talks about the "California Count" proposed ballot initiative, which would replace "winner-take-all" presidential voting in California, recorded from San Diego, CA, November 8, 2007


nothing "accidental" about it (0.00 / 0)
"the rap" and method is exactly the same in Santa Barbara and Orange County... the "children's cancer hospital", burying the electoral college issue 3 down... bet if questioned, the petioners in SB would asking, "do you know what eminent domain is"...

for heaven's sake - even the heavy rubber band on the top of the clipboard is the same!

this is a script and set up are identical from county to county? how can this be an accident?

How can we get discovery? (0.00 / 0)
I'm hoping that these shenanigans are actually illegal.

If so, is there any way to "pry open" APC to get at their training procedures?  I think you're totally right here: APC most likely is training its people to break the law.  It would be good if someone goes to jail for this.  But failing that, at least we should get this out in the open.

[ Parent ]
Someone (0.00 / 0)
who is sweeter, more innocent and nicer than I should go try to get hired by this company and find out what the game is.

[ Parent ]
It occurs to me (0.00 / 0)
that Target's security cameras probably have everything on tape... about 330 on Thursday afternoon.

[ Parent ]
Good! (0.00 / 0)
call the Sec of State election fraud department... very nice people, very easy to talk to... said they were getting some calls on this from around the state... called the OC Registrar and while they don't do enforcement, the message would be relayed to the supervisor...

don't know if any of it will add up to anything, but it seems very well worth the effort.

[ Parent ]
Jerry Brown is on it! (He's the AG now!) (6.50 / 2)
The Contra Costa Times reports that Art Torres is on it:

  SACRAMENTO -- State Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres on Thursday asked Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate what Torres called fraudulent "bait and switch" tactics to deceive voters into signing a petition to place a Republican-backed Electoral College measure on the ballot.

There been some traction with this, lets keep it up.  I will be going outside soon to look for signature gatherers, and will report them if I find any.  Something to do this weekend!

I believe momentum is building! (0.00 / 0)
Good job, Vikingkingq!

took a run today (0.00 / 0)
to 4 of the local Target stores to see if I could spot any new petitioners from this group. 3 of the 4 stores had petitioners, but 2 of those 3 were from a different group. It was refreshing seeing people do petitioning the proper way with nothing hidden.

One of the fellows gathering signatures on his petition (not the electoral college one) was upset when I walked away without signing and said plaintively, "But we are almost out of time!".

The one group that was still collecting up signatures for the electoral college initiative looked like they were actually explaining what all was on the clipboard, but one of the kids I confronted the other day was there and recognized me, so hard to know...

from FDL commenter, LooHoo (0.00 / 0)
more ballot initiative f*kery afoot... seems that skid row and the homeless are willing to trade their signature for food...


I've posted (0.00 / 0)
over at DKos to try to keep this issue in view.


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