By Tori Richards | Colorado Watchdog.org
DENVER – Next time you complain to a government agency and it goes nowhere, consider that you are in good company.
A former congressman who had his internet password compromised by a left-wing voter registration group told Watchdog that he got no help when he brought the matter to the Colorado secretary of state.
Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican and one-time presidential candidate, received a voter registration solicitation about six weeks ago with his password substituted for his first name on an envelope that looked like junk mail.
Inside the envelope was a letter from an organization called The Voter Participation Center with a Denver address. It also contained an application that was already filled out with Tancredo’s personal information. He had never heard of the VPC and was alarmed at the invasion of his privacy.
“I gave the letter to (Secretary of State) Scott Gessler and asked him if he could look into it because this seemed like some shady operation,” Tancredo said. “He said, ‘We will look into it.’”
As Watchdog has reported this week, the VPC is a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that has solicited pets, dead people and children in its quest to register as many voters as possible for the general election. Its target is women and minorities, the strongest voting bloc for Barack Obama.
To date, the VPC has sent out more than 10 million pieces of mail across half of the nation. The group earned headlines when some of those solicitations attempted to register children, family pets and the dead.
What Gessler didn’t tell Tancredo is that he had a run-in with the group in February upon learning that it was mailing invalid application forms to Colorado voters. Gessler told the group to stop sending out forms without a signature line, Gessler’s spokesperson Richard Coolidge said.
So far Tancredo hasn’t been given an update on his complaint, causing him to believe that Gessler isn’t doing anything about it.
“I am very annoyed. This is something that should be looked into,” Tancredo said. “I don’t know what to say except I’m disappointed and wish he would have moved on it because this is an outfit that certainly should be scrutinized and he has the power and authority to do it. I hope he does.”
Coolidge said earlier in the week that his office hasn’t received any formal complaints. Late Friday he had a statement: “We recognize Congressman Tancredo’s frustration. For these third-party, outside groups, we have no idea where or how they get their distribution lists.”
Still, it was Tancredo’s hope that Gessler would investigate the VPC’s methods.
Gessler’s inaction is in sharp contrast to his counterparts of Louisiana, New Mexico and Florida. The latter sought to find a way to stop VPC mailings while Louisiana and New Mexico attorneys general blasted the group on their websites.
“Your methods and your mailing lists appear to have significant flaws, to the detriment of many of the recipients, as well as the integrity of the voter file in New Mexico,” Secretary of State Dianna Duran wrote.
Louisiana’s Tom Schedler wrote that the group’s mailing lists “opens the door to voter fraud.”
The VPC told Watchdog in an email that it tries to be as thorough as possible and has instituted a new protocol to verify its data.
“Misdirected mail wastes money and does not advance VPC’s goal of maximizing civic participation in this country,” their statement said.
Contact Tori Richards at email@example.com