blogenlust
2.03.2005

Response to Hinderaker


As promised, today John Hinderaker posted a response to Camille Gage's recent op-ed in the Star Tribune. Hinderaker includes in his post a copy of an article he sent to the newspaper as part of an effort to set the record straight on Gage's allegations. I'm not too concerned with the first half of the article, since it primarily consists of background information from this post that appeared on Power Line in October 2004. However, I think the second half of the article, the half in which Hinderaker berates the Star Tribune for failing to fact check Gage's story, raises some interesting questions. First things first, though. This is what we know about the original story posted on Power Line. Read it because it's important to know what's going on. Also, it's important to understand that Gage's op-ed was specifically addressing the allegations charged in this piece from Agape Press, because in his response, Hinderaker uses smoke and mirrors to confuse people on what is actually being alleged. Turning to Hinderaker's post, he writes:
"Because the editors did no fact checking, they did not know that the FAIR report, far from having "no factual basis," has been the subject of a criminal investigation."
It would have been nice for Hinderaker to cite where he learned of this criminal investigation, since I've spent some time on Lexis Nexis trying to find a citation. I haven't had any luck, and that doesn't mean there isn't an investigation ongoing, just that it might not be "national news." However, in a January 27, 2005 Journal Sentinel article, there is mention of an investigation into possible voter fraud in Milwaukee. But these charges don't seem to be related to those made by FAIR. Interestingly, Mike Johnson, the spokesman for the Milwaukee FBI office told the AP: "If it appears federal criminal violations may have occurred, we'll open a criminal investigation." Next, Hinderaker claims:
"Because the editors did no fact checking, they did not know that the FAIR representatives have submitted sworn affidavits saying they went to deputy registrars in Racine and Milwaukee who accepted their registration to vote, even though they made it clear they were not eligible Wisconsin voters.
Because the editors did no fact checking, they did not know that the FAIR representatives made tapes of their conversations with the deputy registrars which are consistent with their sworn accounts, and have been turned over to federal and state law enforcement authorities."
Again, a citation would be nice, and I haven't seen anything about this in Lexis Nexis (which doesn't necessarily prove it's not true). The only source I could find was on the FAIR website, from a November posting of two press releases on the allegations. The first ends by mentioning that the tapes were handed over to the Racine and Milwaukee District Attorney's offices. The second mentions that Milwaukee DA Michael McCann decided "not to pursue criminal prosecutions resulting from FAIR's investigation which unconvered evidence that noncitizens and illegal aliens were being registered to vote in the county." Somewhat defensively in my opinion, the press release continues with: "He was not referring to prosecution of Voces de la Frontera or others involved in registering noncitizens and illegal aliens to vote." I'm not sure what the difference is, but presumably, if there were criminal investigations filed against Voces de la Frontera, it would be noted on FAIR's site. It's not, though. Oh, and I've emailed Hinderaker for another source on this information, and haven't heard back from him yet. Finally, Hinderaker adds:
"Because the editors did no fact checking, they did not know that two liberal activists are already under indictment for voter fraud in Racine County."
Hmm...I think Hinderaker is trying to suggest that these two activists are the same two sent by FAIR. Unfortunately, they're not. The two people involved were associated with Project Vote, and they were indicted because they were felons on probation, which makes it illegal for them to register voters. Now, maybe Hinderaker is talking about two other liberal activists associated with the FAIR investigation that were indicted for voter fraud in Racine County, but I haven't been able to find any articles announcing such indictments. Now, after doing this research, I'm not very satisfied with Hinderaker's response. He doesn't seem to address the content of the original article, and makes claims that aren't easily supported by evidence. Of course, I haven't put that much energy into finding the sources Hinderaker cites, but I've done enough to know that his claims are not as clear cut as he suggests. And, in fact, it seems as though he is purposely confusing the story. I say purposely because Hinderaker is a lawyer, and presumably he isn't an idiot and can figure out that these things don't add up. There's one more thing that I came across, which I find interesting, but haven't been able to fully verify. In 2000, a Susan Tully from Viroqua, Wisconsin unsuccessfully ran as a Republican candidate for Congress. I learned this from a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that detailed some overdue bills associated with then Governor Tommy Thompson and his campaigning for local Congressional candidates. Of course, a Susan Tully is also the Midwest Field Director for FAIR, and the source of the Agape Press article. Now, as I said, I don't know if this is the same person, I just found it an interesting connection. I tried to email Tully at FAIR about this, but her email bounced. UPDATE: Interesting. Susan Tully is the Midwest Field Director for FAIR and she was the losing candidate for a Congressional office in 2000. Here's a November 2000 article from the Journal Sentinel that mentions how Tully moved to Wisconsin from California. If you read her biography at FAIR, it also mentions her residency in California. Now if I were a tinfoil hat type of guy, I might see a connection here... DOUBLE UPDATE: Hinderaker responded. We've been exchanging a few emails. I first asked him if he had a second source for the allegations:
I've talked to the people who signed the affidavits and reviewed the transcripts of the tape recordings they made. Most of this has not appeared in the newspapers.
In a follow-up email I asked about the criminal investigation and the two indictments. He responds:
As I understand it, the indictments are not directly related. How all of these events in Milwaukee and elsewhere fit into a general pattern of corruption is yet to be determined. The criminal investigation is pending. A joint federal-state task force is looking into the broad issue of voter fraud in Milwaukee, and I suspect it will be a while before this plays itself out.
Was that the impression you got of the situation after reading his response to the Star Tribune?