Tea Party and the Right  
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Priebus' Republican National Committee: A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Koch's Americans for Prosperity?

The new RNC chair Reince Priebus, implicated in Americans for Prosperity's voter-caging scandal, carried a lot of water for the Koch-led group in Wisconsin. Now he's rewarded.

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"They can go in there and look for lapsed voters," Dake explained to the group.

In the scheme to which Priebus and Mark Block, then Americans for Prosperity's state director, were apparently parties, college students at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee and Marquette University were the prime targets, as were residents of a Milwaukee African American neighborhood.

Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, told me last October that the plan appeared to involve sending out the caging postcards in the summertime to voters in precincts where most residences were dorms, noting that most students are on vacation in the summer. (And, of course, many return to different dorms the following term.) Presumably, any cards returned to the Tea Party group marked "undeliverable" would be used as evidence to challenge that person's vote in the November midterm elections.

Photographing Homes of Targeted Voters

In a July memo outlining the plan, Dake said that Americans for Prosperity was preparing the initial mailing of 500 postcards to voters in Wisconsin's 16th assembly district -- which has a large African American population -- and that more would be mailed as funding allowed. AFP's Mark Block initially denied having any part in the scheme, but when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained a statement from Dake saying Block had been involved in more than one meeting on the plan, Block admitted that AFP had sent out the initial 500-piece mailing. However, Block said, since only 10 cards were returned as undeliverable, the plan was abandoned.

Priebus' office denied any involvement in the actual sending of letters. From the Journal Sentinel:

State Republican Party executive director Mark Jefferson said Priebus had had only general discussions with Dake about the issue of voter fraud and that the GOP had never actually went ahead with any of the plans Dake had outlined in the recording.

"We had discussions with everyone about this, but as far as sending out letters like this, I haven't had any discussions like that," Jefferson said.

However, a document uncovered this fall by One Wisconsin Now casts doubt both on that assertion and on Block's claim that the voter-caging plan was abandoned before the midterm elections. At the very least, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, under Priebus' leadership, monitored the addresses of registered voters via surveillance conducted by Tea Party activists -- who were provided with lists of "questionable addresses" by the Wisconsin GOP.

 On September 16, Dake forwarded to a group of Tea Party activists an e-mail (obtained by One Wisconsin Now) from Jonathan Waclawski, then the finance director and chief counsel of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, with the subject line: COALITION NEWS: FOR LEADERSHIP: Voter Fraud Project. In the e-mail -- originally sent to Dake and Mark Musselman, also of the GrandSons of Liberty -- Waclawski explains that the party already has good "coverage" in 17 counties, but could "use help" in others, notably in Milwaukee County, which he contends "has over 16,000 questionable addresses."

In his introduction to the Republican Party e-mail, Dake verifies that Waclawski's e-mail is part of the same project discussed at the June meeting where One Wisconsin Now obtained the damning audio, writing: "Here are the forms for the voter fraud project that was debuted at the Marshfield meeting in June…The idea is to verify the suspect voter registrations per the supporting documentation."

Attached to the e-mail were four documents, including a non-disclosure agreement signed by Waclawski for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which barred participants in the project (presumably the Tea Party activists conducting the voter "fraud" project) from disclosing that information to anyone but the Republican Party. There is also one offering instructions for a step-by-step address verification process that includes taking photos of buildings listed on the voter rolls bearing "questionable addresses" and instructions for forwarding the information to Waclawski. In a press release, One Wisconsin Now described that as an instruction to "photograph the homes of people targeted for voter suppression activities."

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