Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blogger Files Election Complaint Against Obama Campaign

Fellow blogger and Harrison Co. GOP Chairman Scott Fluhr has filed a complaint with the Indiana Election Commission against the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama for offering free tickets to a Dave Matthews concert at IU's Assembly Hall last weekend in consideration for students registering to vote for Indiana's upcoming May 6 primary. Specifically, Fluhr's complaint alleges the Obama campaign violated IC 3-14-2-1, which prohibits “payment of any property” of value in exchange for applying for an absentee ballot, casting an absentee ballot, registering to vote, or voting. Fluhr's complaint reads:

During the week of March 31, 2008 to April 5, 2008, the Obama for America campaign and its agents distributed tickets to a concert by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds to be held at Assembly Hall at Indiana University Bloomington on April 6.

It is clear that these tickets had value; they were even being sold on eBay after they were given out for free. Based upon my information and reasonable belief, arising from publicly-available information and openly-given accounts of the event and the circumstances of the distribution of its tickets, I think that these tickets were being given out as a quid pro quo by the campaign and its agents for new voter registrations.

Further, I believe that these “free” tickets constitute payment of property by the Obama for America campaign and its agents in exchange not just for new voter registrations but to influence the opinions of voters in the May 6 primary that were the recipients of said tickets.

That the Matthews concert tickets had value is clear from Internet reports of tickets being sold on eBay as Fluhr observes. More damning to the Obama campaign are reports that even people who were already registered were being encouraged to "re-register" in order to get a ticket to the concert. The Obama campaign was reportedly offering financial incentives to people who registered 20 or more voters. It is absolutely asinine to encourage registered voters to "re-register." It simply creates a lot of unnecessary paperwork for election workers. It frankly bothers me more that Obama's campaign would deliberately re-register voters as the campaign's offer of free concert tickets because of the unnecessary strain it places on election workers so close to the primary election. According to a report by WTHR's Mary Milz, the Obama campaign turned in over 4,000 new voter registrations to the Marion Co. Clerk's office out of more than 10,000 expected new registrations. Fluhr's complaint raises legitimate concerns. The state election commission should promptly investigate his complaint.

13 comments:

varangianguard said...

Maybe Mr. Fluhr is a Dave Matthews Band fan, and is steamed that he couldn't get tickets himself?

Jealous that Blue Indiana's IEC complaint was filed (and heard) first?

Has nothing better to do until after the primary (since his biggest two candidates are now unopposed)?

Michael said...

Obama campaign should have to follow the law, just like everyone else. I hope some Obamamaniacs go to jail for this.

It is illegal to buy votes in this country, and it is apparently illegal to buy registrations or absentee ballots in this state.

So..... Obama is busted.

Dwight said...

I stood in line for the free tickets, but the long wait was so frustrating that I came away committed to vote for Hillary.

The Obama campaign absolutely did not encourage anyone to re-register. Campaign members were walking up and down the line with voter registration forms, but I only saw one person the entire morning filling one out.

To get the free tickets, all anyone had to do was present an Indiana ID, and provide in writing a name, address, and email, which the campaign presumably will use to target the distribution of literature.

This complaint is retarded.

ruth holladay said...

Gary, when I worked as a volunteer for Obama in Ohio, I found the young staff to be college students or recent graduates including young lawyers. They were all principled and meticulous.
I don't know what happened in Bloomington, but I am certain nobody who was on staff in Ohio would ever double-register. They were all about doing things correctly.

Lance Rasmussen said...

"I stood in line for the free tickets, but the long wait was so frustrating that I came away committed to vote for Hillary."

Are you saying that just because you couldn't get free concert tickets (emphasis on FREE), you're switching your voting preference? That's, um....fickle.

bnslis said...

I went to the Indianapolis Obama office, signed up on a waiting list for tickets, got a call that evening that my ticket was in, picked it up and that was the end of it. I was asked if I would like to register to vote when I first signed up, but when I mentioned that I already was, no one bothered me about it again. Nothing untoward or shady went on at all.

bnslis said...

Also, I wonder if the whole "re-registering" thing was actually registering people at their correct addresses instead of old ones. Given the transient nature of college students, that seems quite likely.

tarrandwoolley said...

I am curious to see how this turns out. I thought Dave Matthews was the one who offered the tickets, and not specifically Obama. Hmmm, is Obama really a proper party to the action. I wonder if Mr. Fluhr joined all the appropriate parties to the action. Time will tell, and we will see. I wonder how popular Mr. Fluhr is when he is required to join The Dave Matthews Band in the action.

Scott said...

I don't doubt accounts that many people from the Obama campaign were careful with regard to the requirements of Indiana law. But there are also accounts to indicate that some people with the Obama campaign were not so proscribed; I do not doubt those either.

I merely contend that such allegations, and the overall circumstances involving the event, merit a closer look by the IEC. If an investigation vindicates the Obama campaign, then justice is done.

But, as others have said and I have noted in my complaint, there are serious questions that need to be answered. In Indiana, the IEC is the body that is tasked with answering them.

As for the origin point of the tickets and how Dave Matthews and the Obama campaign interacted, that's a consideration of campaign finance and thus more a matter for Federal election law. There seems to be no question that the tickets were being given out by the Obama campaign, though (just examine the media reporting about the event itself).

K2H said...

This is an outrage! How dare the Obama campaign try and introduce/encourage young Americans to participate in the American political process!

artfuggins said...

The Obama campaign upstaged Clinton.....how do you spell sour grapes? You mess with the Clinton's and the wrath of hell will descend upon you!!!

Beth J said...

I just want to say that, I took my son to wait in line for the tickets in Bloomington... We were not required to registar to vote to get the tickets..someone has misinformed you here... All that was required was to produce an Indiana ID or Indiana student ID. If you wanted to registar you could... There was nothing mentioned about "absentee" voting.. I can assume that any ticket to see a presidential candidate speak could be sold for money..so I am not seeing what the big issue is here.... My son did registar 20 voters prior to the concert but was not offered anything of monetary value for his service.... It was good to see him get involved.....

Little Miss Nobody USA said...

At this time I would like to introduce an amendment to Senate Bill 453 Sponsored by Senator Barack Obama to read as follows: Madam President, I COME BEFORE YOU To State That Voters Of America must be given the right to vote as set forth in the 19th Amendment to the constitution which states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”