Skip to comments.Tribal order may not stick (South Dakota vote buying allegations)
Posted on 10/31/2004 6:02:32 PM PST by jwalburg
SIOUX FALLS - A tribal judge has no authority to keep Republicans from watching Tuesday's voting on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, U.S. Attorney James McMahon said Saturday.
McMahon said that anyone who tries to carry out the order would be subject to violating federal law.
"It would be my interpretation of that order that it does not comply with the law, and I have let it be known to law enforcement that they should not be enforcing any order on the reservation which purports to keep the Republican Party away from the polls," he said.
Also Saturday, a Republican poll watcher made allegations of vote buying.
Both developments were prompted by the Four Directions Committee obtaining a temporary restraining order Friday against the state GOP and Ryan Knutson, a former GOP employee.
The restraining order states that Knutson is not allowed near the polls and that Republicans are prevented from videotaping its workers or having any contact with them.
Oglala Sioux tribal Judge Marina Fast Horse signed the order Friday and scheduled a hearing for Nov. 12.
Four Directions, which calls itself a nonpartisan group trying to increase American Indian voting, accused Knutson of intimidating its workers on Wednesday at Pine Ridge by videotaping them on private property.
But Knutson said Saturday they've got the wrong guy.
"This is bizarre. I have never been to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in my entire life," he said. "On Wednesday, I was helping my brother bury his dog in Vermillion."
Knutson said he worked for the state GOP after he graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law last spring but quit in September.
Bret Healy, executive director of Four Directions, said one of the committee's workers identified Knutson as the person who videotaped and trespassed, and the state GOP office said Knutson was working at Pine Ridge.
Despite that, Healy apologized for the misunderstanding and said he would have the order amended to remove Knutson's name.
But the state Republican Party will remain part of the order because it has admitted to videotaping Four Directions workers, which amounts to intimidation, Healy said.
Jason Glodt, executive director of the state GOP, said the workers were videotaped in response to reported voter problems.
As an example, the party provided to The Associated Press a copy of two affidavits signed by Paul Brenner, who said he lives in Virginia and is in South Dakota as a volunteer election monitor.
Brenner said he talked with people on Rosebud Indian Reservation who indicated that Four Directions was paying people to vote.
On Thursday, while seated next to Daschle poll watcher and New York lawyer Greg Lembrich, two women asked when they would get paid, according to one of the affidavits.
Brenner stated another incident happened Friday that involved a woman who was taking people to the polls.
"I told (her) I had heard that the Daschle campaign office in Rosebud was offering a better deal to vote haulers than Four Directions, because they paid $10 per voter, plus a free meal at the Rosebud Casino after 12 voters. She said she already knew that and was also getting paid by the Daschle campaign office," Brenner wrote.
Glodt said other Republican poll watchers and voters have offered similar stories and that the party was working with authorities to get affidavits.
"Everything we've found and had reasonable evidence to support, we've turned over to law enforcement. This is why we found the need to videotape, to obtain additional evidence to support the claims that were reported to us," he said.
McMahon said late Saturday he had been told about the allegations and would look into them.
Healy was angry. Republicans made similar implications in 2002 that were found to be untrue, he said. And in June, no allegations were made and Four Directions was just as active for that election, Healy said.
"We'll sue him. They better hope like hell that McMahon prosecutes Four Directions as a vote-buying operation, because it didn't happen," Healy said. "We take this very seriously. This smacks of desperate politics."
Dan Pfeiffer, Daschle's communications director, said the campaign pays people to take voters to the poll, but only by check and by the hour - not cash and by the voter.
Pfeiffer said he talked with Lembrich, the lawyer seated next to Brenner, and he doesn't remember any exchange with a voter asking to be paid.
Lembrich did say that "Paul Brenner said he was in South Dakota to 'write the next chapter of the Democratic voter fraud story,'" Pfeiffer said.
"These allegations are without substance. The Republicans have provided no evidence to back them up, other than the word of a partisan out-of-state attorney," he said.
Glodt reiterated Saturday that Four Directions is effectively a front for the Democrats.
Healy is a former Democratic Party executive director, the group printed negative ads against Republican U.S. House candidate Larry Diedrich before the June special election, and the Four Directions Political Action Committee - predecessor to the current group - contributed $544,500 to the state Democratic Party, Glodt said.
Four Directions Committee "is not a front for party organizations," said Healy.
He said his past involvement with the party has nothing to do with Four Directions. The ads were cleared by the group's lawyer as being appropriate under tax law, and it was a former PAC by the same name, not the new committee, that gave money to the Democrats, according to Healy.
Furthermore, the committee went after Democratic election officials in Lake Andes who mistakenly prevented some people from voting in the June election, though the charges were dismissed, Healy said.
I heard Zogby say on the radio today that Dass-hole is toast.
There's more shenanigans where Dashle's concerned then meets the eye.
But this article is good news. Republicans won't be kept out of polling places in the Indian reservations.
Well, we'll hope the race is beyond the margin of shenanigans.
On the same show he said Bush was toast. So I wouldn't go by what Zogby says all the time.
Four Directions Committee "is not a front for party organizations," said Healy.
Healy's in bed with Daschle so much that it's no wonder he's all upset. His privite Democratic reservation deal has been threatened.
I don't know what to make of this one.
That is not what I heard. I heard the Zog say that Bush/Kerry was very close, within the margin of error. He said he was leaning towards Kerry as the victor because Bush as the incumbent was polling below 50%. That is a much more shaded comment than what he said about Daschle.
My take? The Zog knows Kerry is toast. But he is a Dem and is trying to keep morale up among the Dem faithful. He has enough wiggle room (and another day) to adjust and still claim his mantle of accuracy.
How many Indians are in these tribes anyway? There can't be more than a few hundred in each tribe, can there? Sounds like the Dims are going to multiply their votes by thousands if they can (again!)
It's possible that some could come back, claim their residence on the reservation (in cars and trailers if need be) and vote, but I doubt there are hundreds of these. The counties on Pine Ridge are THE poorest counties in the nation and both political parties have pretty much neglected them. Every couple of years they get some attention and promises and then they are left to their poverty for the rest of the time. Two years ago, Democrat Tim Johnson's supporters, in a crass ploy for votes, dumped a load of toys and clothes on the reservation right before the election. Clinton visited a few years before that. All show. They get their votes and then leave until it's time to promise stuff again.
Sounds like the Republicans could make some real inroads if they would make a few overtures to the Indians, and then really deliver. It would help if they showed up with help and friendship on occasions other than just at election time too. Or are the Indians like the Democrat Plantation Blacks..."My grandpappy was a Dim, my Daddy was a Dim, and by George I'll die a Dim too..."?
No, I think you are right. The reservation system is a hard problem. But Democrats only offer more dependency. Republicans, if they are innovative enough, should be able to come up with something better.
Those on the reservations need to realize that some of their leaders are selling them out to Daschle and while their leaders get rich they still do without.
It is time for Americans to chose their leaders more wisely.
Those that lead and tell you to do something one way and they themselves do just the opposite are doing nothing but digging a larger hole in which to bury you.