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Did Reid Campaign Violate Election Laws?

Some troubling (albeit unsurprising) news from the opinion page of the Washington Examiner:

E-mail shows illegal activity in Reid’s campaign

By: Hans A. von Spakovsky
November 4, 2010

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., may have beaten back challenger Sharron Angle and retained his post as the majority leader, but his campaign and one of his biggest supporters may have violated federal law to do so.

As National Review reported earlier this week, the Reid campaign sent a desperate e-mail to the senior vice president for government relations at Harrah’s Casinos asking the company to pressure its employees to get out and vote for Reid. The campaign even offered to have Reid call Harrah’s executives to help give "the backing" needed to get the company working on this.

The Reid staffer involved told Harrah’s it needed to "put a headlock" on its supervisors "to get them to follow through."

This plea was distributed to senior executives throughout the company by a Harrah’s vice president, Marybel Batjer. Batjer [pronounced ‘badger’?] demanded that those executives "do whatever we need to do to get the supervisors to know that there is NOTHING more important than to get employees out to vote. Waking up to a defeat of Harry Reid Nov 3rd will be devastating for our industry’s future."

Harrah’s did just that, getting headcounts and insisting that supervisors explain why their employees had not yet voted. They also coordinated with employee unions to get buses and shuttles to take the employees to the polls.

None of this should be excused as just "politics as usual." Both the Reid campaign and Harrah’s may have violated federal campaign finance law that prohibits in-kind corporate and union contributions to, and coordination with, political campaigns. Corporations and unions may spend money to run ads in support of or opposing a candidate, but they are not allowed to make direct or in-kind contributions to federal candidates.

Laws that obviously more honored in the breach.

Federal criminal law also prohibits intimidation and coercion of a person exercising his or her right to vote (or not to vote).

If a corporation or union spends money to support the election of a candidate in response to a request by that federal candidate (that is, if they make a coordinated expenditure), as clearly occurred in this case, then they are making an illegal contribution to the candidate.

This was not a situation where a corporation was simply encouraging its employees to go to the polls and vote for their candidate of choice — Harrah’s was telling its employees how important it was to elect Reid, setting up a whole system to coerce its employees to vote, even making records of who had not voted.

Both Harrah’s and the unions spend money, in terms of supervisor and employee resources on company time, and the cost of shuttles, etc., not merely in a nonpartisan way to get out the vote, but to facilitate votes for Reid.

Moreover, 18 U.S.C. ¤ 594 makes it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten or coerce, "or attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for or not to vote for, any candidate for office of … the Senate."

Harrah’s executives were apparently threatening employees who had not voted, and were coercing them to vote for a particular senatorial candidate. The obvious implication for anyone receiving these Harrah’s e-mails or having a "headlock" put on them was possible reprisals and adverse employment consequences if they did not cooperate in getting out the vote (and vote) for Reid.

The Justice Department’s handbook on election crimes for prosecutors makes clear that it is criminal to engage in "conduct intended to force prospective voters to vote against their preferences, or refrain from voting, through activity reasonably calculated to instill some form of fear."

Campaign finance violations are generally investigated by the Federal Election Commission as civil matters. But intentional and knowing violations are criminal violations, which are prosecuted by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department.

It is difficult to believe that neither Reid’s staffer nor Harrah’s senior vice president for government relations (its lobbyist), would not know that their coordination and in-kind contributions were highly illegal.

So the question is this — will the Holder Justice Department open up an investigation into what seems to have been blatant violations of federal law? Or will the administration make the same type of political decision that it has made in numerous other cases, including the New Black Panther Party?

If it fails to investigate, it will be telling the country that as long as you are an important political ally of the president, you need have no worry about violating federal law.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org) and a former Federal Election Commission commissioner and Justice Department official.

Of course these are the same unions that want to do this kind of intimidation in their own elections with ‘Card Check.’

Legislation, Harry Reid just happens to champion.

Meanwhile, as we have said before, the House has a lot of election fraud to investigate. Let a thousand subpoenas bloom.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, November 5th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Did Reid Campaign Violate Election Laws?”

  1. Liberals Demise says:

    Don’t piss off the Unions Harry Hoffa.
    As for the election laws?
    Nothing will come of this……as usual. Maybe sacrifice a peon nobody.

  2. wardmama4 says:

    Don’t expect anyone in DC doing a damn thing about this – election fraud is the first step on the short road to dictatorships and one candidate ‘elections’ that exist in most socialist, communist, and fascist countries.

  3. Cincinnatus says:

    The Gamesters of Triskelion might be able to force you to go vote, but they can’t come into the booth with you. The obvious way to strike back is to go and cast your vote — for Sharon Angle.

  4. Adam Moreira says:

    The problem is: Can Holder investigate without being seen as having a conflict of interest? As I see it, this has to be handled by the FEC with Holder recusing himself.

    As for violations of the law, it appears to come extremely close without breaking it, as you can say you voted for Reid but you actually voted for Angle. In the days before “honest services” was struck down, this may have been open-and-shut.

  5. canary says:

    Is this the video FOX played of the man with the hardhat threatening to fire employees who don’t vote his way? Imagine the mail in ballots where your boss stands over you telling you where to check mark, and seals & mails it for you.
    It is the unions that want a law that they can see how members vote.

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