Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Westlund: Alley Aide Is a Little Too Cagey

The state treasurer campaign of Democrat Ben Westlund, hit last week by a Republican revival of an old "sex scandal," has struck back with charges

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 12:14 PM

The state treasurer campaign of Democrat Ben Westlund, hit last week by a Republican revival of an old "sex scandal," has struck back with charges that one of rival Allen Alley's top campaign aides was involved in shady practices four years ago.

"They say you can tell a lot about a person by who they choose to surround themselves with," says an anti-Alley website. "Allen Alley has chosen Bush Administration crony Doug Badger as a key part of his campaign circle. Badger held was Executive Director for Bush's 2004 election team in Oregon.

"As part of the Bush team, Badger may have been a key participant in the campaign's efforts at vote caging, an illegal practice of trying to strip people from the voter roles."

The way "vote caging" works, according to the site, is that a campaign sends registered mail marked "do not forward" and "return to sender" to homes of registered voters, "often those of men and women serving in the military overseas." When the recipients don't sign for the letters they come back to the sender, who uses them to compile a list of registered voters to challenge at the polls.

According to a May 2007 story in Slate, the on-line magazine, "Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren't living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case."

The anti-Alley site links to a report on the progressive blog Daily Kos connecting Badger to "caging" efforts on behalf of the Bush campaign in 2004.

Interesting stuff, but The Eye doubts it will get as much traction with the media or voters as the "sex scandal." There's nothing like a nice, uncomplicated grope story to engage the public interest.

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