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Monday, January 21, 2008

Serious Allegations Against The Clinton Campaign in Nevada

Statement from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe:

We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.

We will investigate all of these thoroughly and would encourage anyone who had concern about actions at the caucus sites to call (866) 675-2008.

Normally when one campaign makes statements like that, they must be taken with a grain of salt, but when they are followed up with firsthand eyewitness accounts that back those statements up, whether the incidents would have changed the final results or not becomes secondary to the question of accountability for using underhanded and possibly illegal tactics to begin with.

Lets start with the first allegation of caucus doors being closed thirty minutes early and people being turned away.

From a Daily Kos diary, thereisnospoon:

Here's my story:

I got to the location at 10:30am and set up. The Hillary people were already there. In charge of them was a 60-ish woman with a slight Brooklyn accent. Here were the irregularities in my precinct alone:

* The Hillary operative tried to force the doors to close at 11:30am. KK was outside greeting people, and she overheard the Hillary campaign mention that the doors would be closing at 11:30am, and she went to talk to the precinct chair. So we intervened and said that that was absolutely not legal by the rules. She then started screaming at the chair to close the doors. When he read the rules that they were open until 12noon, she said that "that's not what I was told, other campaigns were spreading misinformation." We stood our ground, and the doors remained open.

* A man in a wheelchair came in with his daughter, and said he was an Edwards supporter. When his daughter began to wheel him to the middle of the room, the Hillary operative tapped her on the shoulder, took the wheelchair and took him to the Clinton corner. I rushed over from talking to an undecided voter and objected loudly, but his daughter was a Hillary person. The Clinton operative said, "I don't control what he does; she does." At that point I said to the man, "Nobody controls you. If you want to vote for Edwards, you have every right to go to the center of the room. Do you need help?" He looked at me plaintively, but said nothing as his daughter dragged him farther back into the corner and just shook his head.

* The Clinton operative herself had a Brooklyn accent and I overheard her mention having been from New York. When she stood to be counted in the middle of the room, I objected and asked her if she was actually from Nevada. She said yes. I talked to the chair and asked him to ask her name and find her on the list. He asked her her name and checked the list, and she was not on it. At this point the chair said, "well, I can't ask for ID." I said, "She can't participate if no one will vouch for her." At this point a Hispanic man wearing a Hillary shirt said she was his wife. While that's not impossible, it was also improbable--but I had no way to verify or object further.

* One voter who hadn't even finished registering said that she was undecided, and the Hillary operative physically escorted her to the Hillary side. I went to talk to the woman, but she was immediately surrounded by 3 Hillary supporters who would not let me in, and I had to attend to others registering at that point (our operatives were outnumbered by hers 2-1).

* Hillary supporters were doing check-in, and a Hillary sign was behind them. I forced the sign off the table, and I went to the front desk to verify that everything went according to the rules at checkin--but if nothing else, the necessity of doing so prevented me from doing other needed work.

Read the whole thing, they also relay stories of what others are telling them and are saying they have video to support some of these claims.

This diarist also ends with something that should be very disturbing for Democrats in general:

After being a part of this campaign, doing this work, and seeing this level of viciousness from a supposedly Democratic candidate, it will be a cold day in hell before I do any work for anyone in any way associated with Hillary Clinton. At this point, even my general election vote is in question. I am furious almost to the point of nausea. There are so many young, idealistic activists here who are absolutely crushed--not because we lost here, but because of the way we "lost." Disillusionment is running extremely high--and I doubt very much of many of them will be back in 2008, or ever again. Illegal and immoral campaign tactics like this aren't just reprehensible: they also come at a cost to the party in the long run.

Another firsthand account comes from LV Pol Girl:

As many of you know I am an Obama supporter and a first time caucus goer. Here is my experience...

We showed up at 10 AM and the Hillary camp was all set with signs and volunteers. It didn't take long for the Obama volunteers to neutralize Hillary's head start. For starters, we noticed that Hillary's supporters were breaking the rules by placing Hillary signs where they were not allowed and we asked them to take them down, which they did. We then noticed, that a car sporting Hillary signage, was double-parked, blocking people who needed access to handicapped parking. We told a woman who just had a hip replacement to park her car right beside the car.

The next controversial issue involved the voter cards disappearing into the Hillary camp, so that the Edwards and Obama people were left with no cards. When we asked them to give us back some cards, we then noticed that they had all been pre-marked for Hillary.

Another controversy arose, when a Hillary supporter became hostile with the Precinct Chair because she felt that things were not moving as fast as she would have liked -- the time was only 11:00 a.m. This, along with the voter card stunt, ended up hurting the Hillary camp because the precinct chair, a known Hillary supporter, was turned off by these tactics and decided to join the Obama camp.

Once again, there is much more to that diary, those are just the highlights.

The next account is from RunnerAAA, who lists multiple problems at the caucus and also from some Hillary supporters, from trying to close the doors early again to people trying to vote in more than one precinct and people being sent to the wrong precinct deliberately as well as precinct captains being interrupted, in violation of caucus rules, when they had their five minutes to speak to the group about their candidate.

That diary ends like this:

We'll see how the results come out, but for now I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth about the Clinton campaign. I won't forget these dirty tactics today will never be forgotten. I hope that everyone realizes how much this reflects on Hillary's character. Anything to win, even if it means cheating. I am as strong a supporter for Obama as ever. We can't let the machine win.

It should be noted that complaints are coming in about both the Obamacampaignand the Clinton campaign as is reported at The Hill.

Rick Moran puts together a list of some of the newsworthy dirty tactics the Clinton campaign has recently utilized from before the Nevada caucus and during it, over at the PoliGazette.

There is quite a bit of buzz about this on the left side of the blogosphere and Ed Morrisey wonders why we even have caucuses instead of all being primaries being the standard.

He has a point, precinct chairs that favor one candidate over another leads to decisions being made, not in fairness to the process but with bias for the campaign that the chair supports... there is nothing fair in that process and leaves us wondering if any legal action can be taken against such tactics that have been reported.

Secondly, many were so disturbed about the process and what they saw from their own "side" that they have been turned off of the whole political process altogether.

Third, because of the chaos at some of the precincts, first time caucus goers may never participate in the process again.

I would bet good money on the fact that nasty tactics, dirty tricks, voter suppression and fraud have just begun in this race, but the fun part about it, is the Democrats are using these tactics against each other.

It is like finally ripping the roof off of hell and letting the world see what the Democrats really are all about.