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'Study' is political fraud

The supposedly nonpartisan American Center for Voting Rights -- which purports to expose voter fraud -- is a fraud.

The organization's 368-page study "Vote Fraud, Intimidation & Suppression in the 2004 Presidential Election," which was released last week, indicated that Democrats were the instigators in every case from Alabama to Wisconsin -- except two.

It also said that the two complaints regarding Republicans had no merit.

The "findings" about Democrat wrongdoing are not surprising considering that the three public faces of the nonpartisan group are very partisan Republican operatives -- including one who claims to be a sounding board for senior White House adviser Karl Rove.

More disturbing than blatant partisanship in the guise of objectivity is that the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania shamelessly cites the study's findings to claim Philadelphia is No. 1 in election fraud. More disturbing still is that the committee claims it knew virtually nothing about the ACVR and yet stands by its decision to parrot its assertions.

"Quite frankly, I do not know who did the report," said Eileen Melvin, state GOP chair.

And most disturbing is that Mrs. Melvin admits she will use studies from other organizations that she knows virtually nothing about to support the party's positions.

"I did not know it existed prior to the study's release," said Josh Wilson, the state committee's media maven, about the ACVR.

Mr. Wilson also was unconcerned when informed about the staunch, well-connected Republican operatives running it.

"We stand by the report," he said. "To our knowledge they are nonpartisan. The report satisfies us." The Republican state committees in Washington and Wisconsin also used that study in news releases, Wilson said. "There likely were others."

Mark F. (Thor) Hearne II, the ACVR legislative fund counsel, and board member Brian A. Lunde signed off on the study.

Mr. Hearne, counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign in 2004, said, "Our intention is not to have a partisan document. Let the chips fall where they may."

Mr. Lunde, who had worked for Democrat candidates, presumably is the nonpartisan organization's counterbalance to Hearne.

"These are not Republican facts or Democrat facts," Lunde said of the study. "These are just the facts as they happen. That's why we call them as we see them. We wanted to take the partisanship out."

Lunde was the national executive director of Democrats for Bush.

That might be why Mr. Rove asks Lunde to suggest potential appointees for the Bush administration, according to Lunde. He also claims he is Rove's sounding board. "It's a very informal thing," Lunde said.

Jim Dyke, the ACVR spokesman, had been communications director for the Republican National Committee, Lunde said.

When asked to name any contributors to his nonprofit, Hearne claimed he did not know but said Lunde did. When Lunde was asked, he claimed he did not know but said Hearne did.

"I do not know who is funding the group," Wilson said. "No review was done on that."

The executive summary of the study says, "This important task requires an honest accounting of activity during the 2004 election, so that we may move forward with a common set of facts to address the issues that undermine public confidence in American elections."

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