Robert Bauer, general counsel for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, sent a letter today to Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting that special prosecutor Nora Dannehy add recent allegations of partisan misconduct within the Justice Department to her investigation of criminal offenses stemming from the 2006 U.S. Attorney firings.
In his letter, Bauer, a partner in Perkins Coie's Washington office, alleges that Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party made false claims of voting fraud as part of a Republican effort to influence the presidential election. The letter accuses Republican officeholders of calling on the Justice Department to investigate allegations of fraud, and Justice Department officials of spurring what he called "baseless" investigations.
“History is repeating itself. As Election Day approaches — just as in 2004 and 2006 — Republican Party officials and operatives nationwide, including the candidates themselves, are fomenting specious vote fraud allegations, and there are disturbing indications of official involvement or collusion,” Bauer writes.
Bauer says a McCain assertion during Wednesday’s presidential debate -- that voter fraud threatened “the fabric of democracy” -- is an example of a false claim.
Bauer also cites an Oct. 16 Associated Press report that says Sarah Palin told a crowd of supporters, “In this election, it’s a choice between a candidate who doesn’t disavow a group committing voter fraud, and a leader who won’t tolerate voter fraud.” Palin was making a reference to ACORN, a nonprofit group that has mounted a major voter-registration effort this year. The McCain campaign has accused the group of committing voter fraud by submitting invalid voter registration forms. The Obama campaign has denied any affiliation with ACORN.
In a teleconference call today, Bauer said the McCain campaign’s claims of voter fraud put unnecessary pressure on the Justice Department to investigate unsubstantiated allegations and that two officials within the department had anonymously leaked information about fraud investigations to the media.
“This is a sham antifraud campaign that comes 24-hours after John McCain’s dramatic pronouncement about tearing the fabric of democracy and now you have a leak of this supposed fraud from the Department of Justice. It’s creating an environment of fear and intimidation,” Bauer says.
Bauer’s allegations of misconduct come on the heels of a Supreme Court decision today that overturned a lower court’s order requiring state officials in Ohio to supply information that would have made it easier to challenge prospective voters.
The ruling marked a setback for Ohio Republicans, who had sued in an attempt to force the Democratic secretary of state in Ohio to provide information about database mismatches to county officials.
The McCain campaign did not immediately return calls for comment.