Monday, May 05, 2008


Robocalling WVWV lied to NC officials

Women's Voices Women Vote, the non-profit at the center of the North Carolina robocall scandal, lied about sending a letter to the North Carolina Board of Elections. They also lied to the entire blogosphere about a press release they claimed to have sent out to North Carolina media explaining their voter registration form mailing.


WVWV has been engaging in a cover up campaign to hide the fact that it never informed anyone in North Carolina about the mailings it's sending to residents in the state. (They are pointing to these mailings--which they send out regularly around the country--to demonstrate that there was nothing nefarious about their robocalls. They're just trying to increase the return rate of their mailings, they claim.) You can see my Daily Kos diaries here and here to get more details.

The Board of Elections letter

As part of that cover up, on Wednesday, April 30, Page Gardner circulated a statement/apology to a number of bloggers (also posted on Huffington Post) to which, as "proof" that WVWV had been upfront about its actions with the North Carolina media, she attached a letter to the NC Board of Elections and a suspiciously undated press release. This statement and the attachments, along with statements of support from various progressives, seem to have gone far in tamping down the controversy.

Specifically, she wrote:
In advance of the mail, a letter was sent to Gary Bartlett in the North Carolina Board of Elections Office. A copy of the letter and a press release sent to North Carolina media announcing the registration effort is attached. [Emphasis mine.]
As "proof" that they had sent this letter to the Board of Elections, they provided a .pdf copy of a fax with a timestamp of Monday, April 28. (Note: TPM Muckraker posted a copy of that fax; they've since replaced the fax version with an easier-to-read pdf version of the letter, with the WVWV logo in color.)

That letter to the Board of Elections was dated Thursday, April 24 (the date the robocalls started) explaining that WVWV's registration was for the *general* election, not the upcoming primary. It claimed that WVWV was entirely aware of the confusion that might result from the fact that the primary mail-in registration deadline had passed. It also said that the mailing "will arrive in homes during the week of May 1st." (Which is bizarre, since May 1 was a Thursday. Why not say "the week of April 28"?)

This letter has been used by, among others,'s Alex Koppelman to demonstrate WVWV's pre-controversy competence and understanding of NC's unique registration situation. (The Board of Elections has acknowledged receiving the fax.)

It turns out, based on a conversation I had this morning with Gary Bartlett, the NC Board of Elections director, that they lied about mailing that letter.

On Thursday, May 1, NC Board of Elections attorney emailed local voter activist Joyce McCray to say that they had not yet received the mailed letter (they acknowledged having received the faxed version.) This morning, I called Gary Bartlett to see if it had arrived yet, and he said he had the letter on his desk - it arrived on Friday, May 2. I asked if he'd checked the postmark on the letter, and he hadn't, but he did so just then.

The letter was postmarked on Wednesday, April 30.

So they lied to an official state agency, after an investigation by the state Attorney General had commenced. They created a letter on April 28, back dated it to April 24, in order to allay suspicion that they were behaving incompetently or nefariously. This is something close to obstruction of justice.

[Note: WVWV put up Page Gardner's statement on their website and, after a couple of days, realized that there was no link to the letter or press release, even though the statement said both were "attached." So they repeated that sentence at the end of the page and provided links to the letter and press release. Oddly, the link to the letter is broken.]

The press release

Then there's the press release they attached to Gardner's statement, which answered many of the concerns that people had about the timing of the North Carolina voter registration form mailing - including the fact that the primary mail-in registration deadline had passed, and which stressed that people could still register in person during early voting, which ended just this past Saturday, May 3. Oddly, no NC media outlet had picked up on this release, even after the controversy had begun to explode!

The reason I was most suspicious about the timing of the press release is that it was UNDATED. This, simply, is NEVER done. Moreover, the press release had too much conveniently exculpatory information from a group that had clearly botched their NC efforts all the way around. Were they really that on the ball? No.

It was obvious to me that this press release was intentionally left undated to cause confusion as to when it might have been sent out. Calling it "a press release sent to North Carolina media announcing the registration effort" suggests that they'd been ahead of the game, right? Like they'd sent it sometime around April 24, like the letter. Right?


In fact, since Friday, WVWV has finally dated their press release. The date they used? Monday, April 28 - AFTER the robocalls had started, AFTER the Board of Elections started their investigation into the calls, and THE SAME DATE the press started asking questions about the provenance of those calls.

I posted many comments on various blogs about the suspicious nature of the press release. The fact that it was undated and the fact that it wasn't posted on their website's list of press releases was all the proof I needed that it was an after-the-fact FAKE press release.

Then, last night, when writing my Kos diary about the NC press release and a bizarre planted article in the Craig, Colorado newspaper, I noticed that their press release website had changed. They added the press release this weekend, put a date on it, and put it in chronological order below their statement of support by William McNary, in order to make it look like it had been been there all along.

Fortunately, I have as proof a screen capture of their Press Release page as of Friday, May 2.

And here's the press release page as of Monday, May 5.

As you can see, as part of their cover up, they are creating a "paper trail" to make it seem that they'd been ahead of the game in NC when, in fact, they weren't even close. But they left tracks.


The question is - why? Why put all this energy into their cover up if they don't have anything to hide?

Even if they're merely hiding their massive incompetence, it's proof of the adage that the cover up is worse than the crime. Their Board of Directors must take immediate action to demonstrate that they take this deceitful and incompetent behavior seriously. There is sufficient evidence now of the lies and cover up, not to mention their appalling behavior in state after state. This is a group that gets more attention for its fuck ups than for its good works. The board must act. It's just too bad they refused to take remedial action for their confusing robocalls before early voting in NC was over.

In sum, by including details about NC registration dates that they had shown complete disregard for in their actual mailings and in the robocalls, WVWV's letter and press release were tailor made for those who doubted WVWV's good word.

We were right to doubt.

Oh, and one last note. As has been pointed out numerous times, neither the press release nor the Board of Elections letter include any information about the robocalls, which is what everyone was concerned about when they created them. They still haven't been able to explain away that major omission.

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