June 4, 2012

Florida Official Behind Gov. Rick Scott’s Voter Purge Linked To $1 Billion Campaign Effort Against Obama

Kurt Browning
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice asked officials in Florida to suspend the controversial voter purge conducted by Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) administration, citing possible violations of voting rights law. Florida officials had been purging a list of suspected non-citizen voters, estimated at one point to include at least 180,000 people, despite evidence that the list is riddled with errors. Hundreds of targeted voters are in fact American citizens. As ThinkProgress and the Miami Herald have reported, a great deal of the individuals also happen to be Hispanics and Democratic-leaning voters, suggesting the effort is deeply partisan.

The plan for the purge, according to a story from the Associated Press, was initiated last year by then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning after a meeting with the governor. Browning said he was motivated by a “Spidey sense tingling” to undergo a massive project to develop the list now being used to send letters to registered Florida voters informing them that they have been flagged as non-citizens. Although both Gov. Scott and Browning have downplayed accusations that the purge is political, a donation from a secret money group may fuel growing suspicions that the effort is partisan.

Just before Browning was selected in 2011 by Scott as Secretary of State, Browning led a group called “Protect Your Vote Inc,” which was set up to oppose fair redistricting. One of the biggest checks to Browning’s organization came from the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, which gave $100,000 in 2010. At the time of the donation, the source of the money was shrouded in secrecy. View a screen shot of the disclosure:

But as Republic Report exclusively reported last month, the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights is part of a universe of front groups financed by David and Charles Koch, the petrochemical billionaires, as well as several other billionaires, as part of an election-influencing effort. New reports this week about the brothers’ strategy indicate that they will now use this constellation of front groups to finance $400 million of a $1 billion campaign in outside money to defeat President Obama and congressional Democrats. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mitt Romney’s Super PAC, and several nonprofits controlled by Karl Rove, will furnish the other $600 million.

Browning, who resigned as Secretary of State late last year, also relied heavily on funds from the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, a big business lobbying group, to support his Protect Your Vote organization, which ultimately failed in blocking redistricting reform. Browning is currently pursuing a bid for local office.

Update: The Florida Independent and the Brennan Center note that Browning orchestrated a controversial voter purge only weeks before the general election in 2008.

  • Egger

    Caught with their pants down!

  • Nothing related to the voters suppression effort by the Medicare fraudster Scott is mention in central Florida television news media. The local Chamber of Commerce is making sure to keep it quiet.

  • Isn’t it ironic that foreign money can be smuggled in to influence campaigns while voters and even the President are targeted as foreigners? Trans-national mega-companies are now “people” with free speech rights. but actual people can’t vote. The Grand Opulence Party is now the party of corruption that claims to be standing on high moral ground. It is planning in earnest to strip away democracy. Republicans are now raping the republic.

    • guest

      Rape is a vile total domination of another person, leaving emotional scars that don’t heal. You can have difference of opinion, but don’t cry rape, you diminish all victums of rape when you do.

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  • Whata Toolsack

    Unfortunately, even though this has come to light, it will not do anything. This is the New Order, where the voices of the millions are ignored by the 1-2%. We’re fucked. End of story.

  • Dawn9476

    Of course it is the Koch brother’s behind it. Didn’t Scott disappear a while back and FL press had no idea where he was? I believe it turned out he and a couple of other governors were at a Koch brother’s retreat.

  • girdyerloins

    I live by the maxim, “actions speak louder than words”. So, when hearing that the Koch organization employs a series of fronts, in order to get things done, I feel I am justified in thinking that anything civil that needs to be hidden is without question questionable and, most likely, highly criminal, whether legal or not.
    That so many people put up with this savagery is beyond me. Does EVERYONE feel as I do? That, alone, we are powerless, and that the forces of the elites are arrayed against us so effectively-never mind that they’ve had the last few centuries to develop and refine their modus operandi-that we can do naught but watch, as we are reduced to conditions that dominated during feudal times?
    I find it supremely difficult to sympathize with anyone who mouths their shibboleths, supports their barbaric credos, lives wholeheartedly according to their rules, waves their flags, then whines when things don’t go their way. People who earn less than ten million a year have no business adhering to republican ideologies, and yet, the people who have the most to lose in this contest seem to be the ones most fervently in favor of their own enthrallment. Boiled frogs, as it were.
    I’m glad I’m an old man. If I had children, I would teach them as soon as they possibly could that you can’t learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is how quickly it can be sacrificed to expediency. I have no qualms about loosing criminals to survive in an inherently criminal world.

  • Wisconsin Liberator

    With a strong GOP we (America) is looking more and more like a right wing Banana Republic every year. I contend they (the GOP) are the height of anti-american thinking. Yet another revolting development from from the greediest liers on the planet. This a a very lightly consealed attempt to steal yet another presidential election and redistribute what’s left of the middle-class assests to the rich. (TOP 1%) Their plan is almost complete. (just watch the Scott Walker hidden camera evidence if you don’t believe there is a plan) All that is needed now is for the young not to show up to polls and the baby-boomers will protect themselves by screwing their children and grandchildren to pay their bills. All while propelling the GOP forward. With an aging population it’s a simple plan of pitting the old against the young. It’s become the new “American Way”. Self intertest above all. No social safety net for you young people. (people under 55) Your not important. Apparently the GOP has other plans for you. Only God and the Koch brothers knows for sure.

    • JanisL55

      You are right, WI, the Republican Party has again targetted Florida and Ohio as ground zero to steal the White House for Willard. Well, we have news for them: they are NOT going to get away with any such thing! We have the Justice dept. watching their thugs like hawks. As for Illegal GOP slush funds, yes as in 2000, illicit Chinese money is funding these thugs–and that is why when Jeb Bush and George Bush/RPOF were caught red-handed laundering this slush through the FL Dept. of Transportation by Ray Lemme, a FL investigator, he had to be assasinated mafia-style in a Valdosta, GA motel room. There is no crime to large for the Republican party to do to win elections. They are dangerous, and they must be stopped!

  • DeliaStclaire

    I see that these psychopathic repubs are willing to do anything to win because they have no chance of winning without rigging the election, which in fact is exactly what is going on. Is there not some legal ramifications for this illegal activity? Are there no lawyers out there willing to take this on soas to protect all voters? Something needs to happen tostop these no good buggers, is there someone out there with legal experience who can help stop koch bros and rick scott scott walker and the rest of these no good s.o.b.’s?

  • JunkMan

    I would not cry if I woke up and read the Koch brothers were shot to death. Actually it might be a good start to the morning.

    • I think a guillotine would be more appropriate.

    • bluebluesdancer

      I could not agree more! It seems as if they are single-handedly destroying everything that this country stands for, and virtually no-one is doing anything to counteract their actions!!!
      The ‘recall’ yesterday… Walker got 30 million dollars and Bennett only 4 million (because there is no limit to how much an incumbent can accept from each donor, whereas his contestant cannot accept more than $10,000 from each… what’s with THAT?!)… but my point is that although there was a lot of coverage from the media and on-line, less than 20,000 people actually donated money to Bennett… Less than 20,000!!! How pathetic is that?? I know that we are all broke, but if we had all donated $3 we would probably have won!

    • 16fathoms

      that with eggs over easy and Canadian bacon with rye toast would be the best breakfast ever

  • mikehuntertz

    Nothing will change until we prosecute & then publicly hang these crooked politicians.

  • I am sure glad I live in Canada, where our craziest right wing asshole Harper is trying to tell us where to fish. The GOP in the states is just a bunch of corrupt bigoted douchebags whose only motivation is lobbyist money from large corporations. Americans are turning into mindless, apathetic drones. Get out and vote, and please, vote these idiots, Democrat or Republican, out of office.

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  • How about if the people that are being flagged by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration just get their own picture ID? That’ll show them ol’ Republicans that they are , in fact, legal as they are

    • They have them. Many have provided them. They’re being ignored. Wonder why.

    • CatKinNY

      My mother, who died at the age of 91 in 2009, had let her drivers license expire because she no longer drove, as have many of the ‘greatest generation’ who are still with us. Had these laws been in effect in 2008, she would have had to go to the DMV and paid $14.00 to get a NYS ID card in order to vote, which means I’d have had to taken time off from work, thereby inconveniencing the ‘job creator’ for whom I work. Does that not strike you as an unreasonable imposition on a 90 year old, me and my boss? That’s the whole point behind these laws, to make it more difficult to vote for members of demographic groups which tend to vote for Democrats. That the GOP is purposely targeting the generation who fought WWII is disgusting; that they are targeting students and minorities may be short term smart, but it’s long term suicidally stupid. In Texas, college picture ID’s are no good at the polls, but a gun license is just fine; disgusting, and stupid. When your ideas and positions are so toxic that you can’t win elections on the merits, it’s time to change your positions or join the Whigs in the dusbin of American political history; instead, the GOP is doubling down on their unpopular positions and blatently trying to steal elections. In another few election cylcles, all their chicanery won’t matter a bit – that one way ticket to the dustbin is just around the demographic corner.

  • AFV

    Yeah lets make sure the Supreme Court reviews Citizens United after their pocket billionaires bought the election. Good job Chief Justice Roberts! Living up to the Bush legacy I see.

  • The Supreme Court already ruled on that. Let the Games Begin…..and no cheating!

  • Money doesn’t BUY elections. They buy advertising.

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  • a “spidey sense tingling.” <<< how republicans make all of their decisions

  • mark anders

    GLAD Im not in Florida or Texas.
    Vacation there again? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

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  • No surprise here

  • Susieb Copeland

    Why are they bascking Scott? Why would any elected official work to suppress the vote? It’s a shame that this group of suppressors work so hard to keep citizens from exercising their basic right…to vote!!!

  • Jayne

    no surprise at all – is there anyone who believes Scott is doing this for any pure reason? If so, I have swamp land to sell you!

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  • pinkmondy54

    After they’ve picked our bones dry of all monetary power they will eventually have to go after each other!

    • Whitebird46

      Ahh..But I read recently that a good parasite will never kill it’s host!

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  • bluebluesdancer

    I wish there was a way to expose and get rid of the Koch influence! I don’t understand how such patently un-American actions can go unchecked over and over again! Is there no legal precedence or law that can be used to lock them up??!!

  • But who can argue with the ultra-scientific and super-heroic Spidey Sense? Who needs electronic checks and real verification when you have the SPIDEY SENSE? And could I also buy a Spidey Sense with a few million dollars from shadowy interests?

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  • guest

    My neighbor, from Boston, MA moved to Florida and then sold out and returned to Boston. He had never been removed from the MA roles and someone vote for him while he lived in Florida and he also voted. Doesn’t this concern you? It does me, if someone is a legal resident of Florida nd a US citizen they will not be removed from the voting roles. How does a state not remove a voter who is residing elsewhere. Florida stated to him that forms are sent to each state informing them of a relocation, they can’t make the state remove the voter. We need to have one vote for one citizen across the entire nation. They need to provide id at the poll. Unions (my father was a steward for one) require the members to produce ID to vote. This is not a racial issue, the illegal stuffing of ballots (case in point, in Wisconsin they had districts with 110% of registered voters voting), registering of non-citizens has to stop to have legal elections of American representation.

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