OSSOWSKI: O’Keefe’s antics trap small fish but leave corrupt establishment behind

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than 24 hours after the latest James O’Keefe video sting and there’s already one casualty. But sadly, it isn’t the specter of voter fraud or even doubts about the integrity of voter registration rolls in states across the country.

Instead, it’s Stephanie Caballero, an otherwise noncontroversial regional field director for PresidentBarack Obama’s Organizing for America in Houston.

Caught on film aiding an undercover reporter seeking to vote twice in the general election, both in Texas and Florida, Caballero unwittingly fell into the trap set by O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, the nonprofit investigative journalism group dedicating to causing headaches among the political establishment.

“There is obviously a history here of making selective use of taped material, and we will certainly not vouch for the completeness of what was released,”Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Melanie Roussell toldTalking Points Memo. “What we saw was enough for us to take the action that we did,” referring to the immediate firing of Caballero.

But while advocates of O’Keefe’s guerrilla journalism may esteem their victory against the Obama campaign and progressive groups will do their best to focus their ire on the conservative activist, where does that leave the core issue — the integrity of our voter registration rolls?

At best, O’Keefe’s video will force a memo to be sent out to Democratic grassroots offices around the country, reminding volunteers and workers about the laws on the books THAT prohibit voter fraud.

At worst, a single campaign staffer will lose her job and all will be forgotten and consigned to partisan history.

Watchdog.org analysis conducted by Earl Glynn reveals that voter rolls are not only out of check in several states, but have the potential to be used and abused to swing an election either way — and that should leave any elephant or donkey mightily concerned.

In states like FloridaColorado and Ohio, there are dozens of counties with more than 100 percent of their eligible population registered to vote, leaving behind a plethora of deceased and inactive names for the determined vote fraudster.

What makes Caballero’s situation a sad one is not only that she lost her job, but that the spirit which ousted her will only serve to rile up the partisan forces on the left or right, and not rekindle the deflated spirit of ballot box integrity that looms somewhere in the middle.

Indeed, the sad truth about this election is that both sides are willing to do anything to win, either by playing up the misdeeds of the other side or downplaying those of their own.

Florida State Rep. John Patrick Julien, a Democrat no less, called for a statewide investigation into absentee voter fraud in Miami-Dade County after numerous reports of “boloteros,” or ballot collectors, signing and casting absentee ballots in place of real voters. He lost his primary race by 13 votes.

“This seems like it was the trial run to the presidential election. I think everyone is sharpening their skills and one side is looking to steal the presidential election in state of Florida,” Julien told Watchdog.org in August.

The very notion of voter fraud in Florida received nothing but ridicule among Democrats until it sprung up on the other side in September, once suspicious voter registrations were submitted by Strategic Alliance Consulting, an agency hired by the Republican Party of Florida.

Case in point is U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla, who repeatedly took to the House floor in 2011 to laugh off the “voter fraud bogeyman,” claiming that maintaining accurate voter rolls amounted to “outright voter suppression” by his Republican opponents.

But right on queue in 2012, he’s done an about-face, penning a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, demanding he “immediately appoint a bipartisan task force” to investigate the “large and apparently growing voter fraud scandal engulfing — the Republican party of Florida.”

The partisan poison that ensnarls conversations about voter integrity is exactly why nothing can be done. Both sides want to win, and they sure aren’t ready to fold all their cards when they think they’re ahead.

O’Keefe’s efforts may be enough to send one unlucky campaign staffer to the unemployment line, but until the issue can be wrestled away as a talking point and reiterated as a serious problem, the small fish are bound to take the fall for the corrupt institution.

Yaël Ossowski is Florida Bureau Chief for Watchdog.org. 

Contact him at Yael@FloridaWatchdog.org.

Read more: Watchdog.org

Yaël Ossowski is an international consumer activist and writer. His writings and interviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets across the world in multiple languages. He is founder and editor of Devolution Review, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) from the CEVRO Institute in Prague and a Bachelor's in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal. He currently splits his time between Vienna, Austria and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Website https://yael.ca
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