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December 07, 2011 10:00 AM Conviction in GOP voter-suppression scheme

By Steve Benen

Last November, there was a fairly competitive gubernatorial race in Maryland. Late on Election Day, robocalls targeted more than 100,000 Democratic households, telling voters to “relax” and not bother voting because Dems were going to win. It was one of the most blatant examples of GOP voter-suppression tactics in a long while.

Fortunately, those responsible got caught. Yesterday, a jury convicted the Republican ringleader.

Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful.

Fortunately, other members of the former Republican governor’s team will also stand trial for their role.

Obviously, there’s a problem when Republican officials believe the best way to win an election is to suppress political participation. But the larger issue here is that GOP officials keep pushing the “war on voting,” putting new hurdles between voters and the ballot box, ostensibly because they fear the scourge of fraud.

The irony is, the fraud Republicans are worried about is imaginary, while the real-world fraud is coming from their side of the political divide.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • c u n d gulag on December 07, 2011 10:16 AM:

    He can spend 12 years in jail - AND SHOULD!!!

    How many people died for their, and others, right to vote?

    Throw the book at the SOB, and teach 'em all a lesson!!!

  • schtick on December 07, 2011 10:22 AM:

    Whenever the tealiban accuse anyone else of doing something, you should know by now it's because they are guilty. Voter fraud!?!?! You bet and they are the ones promoting it. Just a shame when they get caught. Not enough they have machines to vote on that are easily fixed, not enought they send out bogus information to voters, not enough they redraw the voting districts whenever they feel like it, they also have Faux Fake and BS Newz pushing it all for them.

    crapcha....Network ganzer....sure is

  • June on December 07, 2011 10:29 AM:

    It feels incredibly good to see at least one dishonest GOP operative (but I repeat myself) finally paying some real-world consequences for the endless, devious Republican "pranks" that deliberately undermine democracy at every turn.

  • Anonymous on December 07, 2011 10:31 AM:

    He can spend 12 years in jail - AND SHOULD!!!

    The judge already indicated he will be far more lenient since high profile Republicans have already "testified to Schurick’s good character and distinguished career."

    Apparently the judge isn't prepared to believe his lying eyes.I predict one week of community service tops.

    Remember, laws are for the little people. Plus, we mustn't discourage Republican anti-voting behavior for goodness sakes.

  • slappy magoo on December 07, 2011 10:33 AM:

    Republican whines of voter fraud are not imaginary. They're deliberate lies. They're a smokescreen, part of the larger, subtler effort to suppress the vote by convincing low-info voters that "they all do it."

    "Sure, this guy was convicted, but I heard a Black Panther was threatening white voters in Philly on Election Day 2008. It was all over Fox News for weeks. They're all reprehensible, they're all just as guilty. So why bother voting? Stay home, Don't vote. It doesn't matter. They're all crooks."

    And that's how Republicans win.

    BTW, I'm not so closed-minded as to think Democrats never commit voter fraud. I'm also just not stupid enough to think this equates to a Dems-do-it-Repubs-do-it story. A-HOLES do it. Our job, as voters, is to suss out the a-holes long before they get into office. And if we fail one time, we work harder to be more vigilant, we don't just throw our hands up and say "well, they ALL must be like that." Politics, ironically, seems to be the one place it's OK to stereotype, as long as the stereotype is "they're all crooks." All that does is dissuade honest people, who DO want to make a difference, to not ever run for office themselves. Leaving the path clear for allll those crooks you're convinced run the government anyway.

  • Anonymous on December 07, 2011 10:33 AM:

    My bad. The defense attorney, not the judge, is tied to that quoate.

  • zandru on December 07, 2011 10:34 AM:

    As Luck Would Have it, O'Malley Won

    But suppose the Republican candidate had come out ahead? My guess is, he'd get to serve his full term as the "duly elected Governor", and by doing so, increase his chances of being re-elected again and again.

    That kind of outcome has to change. And yes, I'm thinking of our nation's long 8-year nightmare...

  • berttheclock on December 07, 2011 10:42 AM:

    Before everyone gets into an uproar over the devious tactics used by the RepuGs, Julius Henson was the master mind behind the robo calls - His trial has been put over until next year. Henson is a highly paid political consultant in the Greater Baltimore area and has run many successful campaigns for Democrats. He will sell out to anyone.

  • berttheclock on December 07, 2011 10:44 AM:

    BTW, Julius Henson happens to be African-American.

  • Mitch on December 07, 2011 12:05 PM:

    @berttheclock,

    This kind of behavior is offensive and (IMHO) treasonous no matter who is doing it, D or R. The race of the perpetrator doesn't matter at all. Even less than their party affiliation.

    Criminal behavior like this, that attacks the very heart of our republic, is unacceptable. Period.

  • berttheclock on December 07, 2011 12:27 PM:

    @Mitch,

    I agree. However, my point was this was orchestrated by an African-American paid consultant, who has run several Democratic campaigns and this robo-calling targeted African-American voters. Until I learned this, I had assumed it was another RepuG run operation. It shows what happens when paid consultants have no moral compass and will sell their souls to anyone for big bucks.

  • George on December 07, 2011 3:51 PM:

    Too bad we could not have brought up on charges those in the news media that suppressed the vote in Florida when they announced Gore the victor before the polls closed...fortunately, Bush managed to pull out a win in FL. Heaven forbid Gore had been Prez on 11 Sept. 2001...he'd told us it we could not fight back because it might damage the environment.

  • Doug on December 07, 2011 8:31 PM:

    re George @ 3:51 PM -

    Two run-on sentences, one allegation without any corroboration, one out-right lie and an extremely juvenile attempt at a (bad) joke.
    Sounds like the current crop of Republican Presidential candidates...

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