True the Vote
True the Vote (TTV) is a conservative vote-monitoring organization based in Houston, Texas whose stated objective is stopping voter fraud. The organization supports voter ID laws and trains volunteers to be election monitors and to spot and bring attention to suspicious voter registrations that its volunteers believe delegitimize voter eligibility. The organization's tag line is "If you see something at the polls that just doesn't seem right, record it." True the Vote's current president is Catherine Engelbrecht.
Americans for Prosperity and other Republican-leaning independent groups have sponsored meetings featuring speakers from the group, including Engelbrecht. The progressive Internet outlet Talking Points Memo has criticized True the Vote for engaging in what it says is caging, voter intimidation, and advancing statements about the pervasiveness of voter fraud that it says are unfounded. In 2012, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings opened an investigation into the organization. In May 2013, following the IRS targeting controversy, Engelbrecht stated True the Vote was subject to additional scrutiny in applying for tax-exempt status.
True the Vote is an offshoot of the King Street Patriots, a nonprofit Tea Party organization founded by Engelbrecht and mostly active in Texas. Several members of the King Street Patriots, including Engelbrecht, its president, were dissatisfied with the voting process in Harris County, Texas during the 2008 election, especially the shortage of poll workers, which they believed "invited fraud and other problems at the polls," and founded the second group in summer 2009.
|This section relies too much on references to primary sources. (May 2014)|
True the Vote's website runs stories on election fraud being perpetrated by "liberals" and "Democrats". The organization maintains a list of "stories of voter fraud", including two videos featuring J. Christian Adams.
2010 election cycle
In August 2010, Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez told ABC news (Houston affiliate KTRK), "We have evidence indicating violations of the Texas election code, falsified documents being submitted to this governmental office and possibly violations of federal election laws." His office's investigation found 1,597 instances of multiple applications for the same voter, 1,014 applications for folks already registered to vote, 325 for teenagers who are too young to register and 25 from folks who admitted on the application they are not even US citizens. Vasquez said the applications were all gathered by paid deputies with the group Houston Votes.[clarification needed] Of the 25,000 applications the group filed in the last three months (June, July, August 2010), only 7,193 were actually for new voters.
True the Vote's activities during the 2010 election cycle were largely confined to Harris County, Texas. True the Vote asserts that it uncovered numerous examples of voter fraud, stating, for example: "Vacant lots had several voters registered on them. An eight-bed halfway house had more than 40 voters registered at its address." During the election, the Texas Democratic Party accused True the Vote of voter intimidation in largely Hispanic and African-American polling areas.
2011-12 Wisconsin recall effort
In 2012, True the Vote joined several other Tea Party groups in "Verify the Recall", an effort that opposed the attempted recall of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. True the Vote provided software that it had previously applied to check signatures in petitions in Texas. In order to electronically check over 1 million petition signatures, which had previously been posted online by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, True the Vote recruited 17,000 volunteers (mostly out of state) to manually enter signatures into True the Vote's electronic database. True the Vote says it recruited over 13,000 volunteers. True the Vote's website has run at least two stories suggesting that fraud is "rampant" in the recall effort, and frame the effort as decidedly political, saying that "we should not believe the claims of union-supporters and anti-Walker operatives who say that they collected more than one million signatures on petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker.".
On February 28, Walker called for the data gathered by the "Verify the Recall" effort to be used as an official challenge of the recall. This information was gathered and compiled entirely by True the Vote. True the Vote's executive summary contended that only 534,865 signatures gathered during the recall effort were valid. There is evidence that True the Vote used a flawed process to discount signatures on the ballot, and that most of the signatures it discounted are, in fact, accurate.
In the days before the June 5, 2012 recall election, True the Vote announced that it would be training volunteers to monitor polling places throughout Wisconsin, both online and at a small number of locations throughout the state True the Vote stated that hundreds of people showed up for training and later monitored the polls in Wisconsin, and that these monitors were necessary because of "discrepancies" in the recall petition process as well as "Wisconsin’s long history of election fraud." True the Vote pledged to man every polling place in Wisconsin on the day of the recall election, which drew sharp criticism from the Barret campaign.
Throughout the Wisconsin recall, True the Vote worked in concert with a group of local Tea Party groups including the "Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty" and "We the People of the Republic", which helped True the Vote launch its recall signature verification efforts. True the Vote's efforts during the recall election itself were conducted with an unnamed group of tea party organizations throughout Wisconsin.
Congressional investigation, 2012~
In October 2012, Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat initiated an investigation into alleged voter suppression by True the Vote. Cummings wrote a letter to Engelbrecht, raising questions about voter challenges in Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Maryland. He indicated that if the efforts to challenge voter registrations were "intentional, politically motivated and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights." In February 2014, True The Vote filed complaints against Mr. Cummings including charges of ethics violations after IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee showed staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. Prior to this revelation, Cummings had maintained that at no time was he nor his staff in communication with IRS officials regarding True the Vote. Information contained within the emails show that the IRS and Cummings' staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization. According to some critics, this implies coordination and improper sharing between the two groups of confidential taxpayer information.
2012 alleged forgery of signatures in Ohio
In 2012, True the Vote applied to the Franklin County Board of Elections to place polling observers in Columbus area districts with large African-American populations. A November 6, 2012, news report in the Cleveland Leader stated that the FCBOE in Ohio had "determined" five of the six signatures on the application were likely forged. Because this type of fraud is a fifth degree felony, the FCBOE declared that an investigation will be conducted after the election.
Catherine Engelbrecht responded to the allegations by saying that the signatures on the initial form were genuine, and, following Franklin County instructions, were copied onto subsequent forms. She said that prior to the placement of observers, the candidates rescinded their approval following threats of lawsuits. She said that the allegation of forgery was "blatant slander", and that William Anthony, the director of the FCBOE, was formerly the chairman of the county Democratic Party. She requested that Anthony release the timeline of events surrounding the allegations and clarify whether there was any coordination with the Democratic Party.
Other activity, 2011-12
On December 13, 2011, it held a rally in Austin, Texas to support a stricter ID law passed earlier that year. The organization held a national summit in Houston largely centered on charges of voter fraud. Speakers included ACORN "whistle-blower" Anita Moncrief, Hans Von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, who insisted that "United States has a long history of voter fraud that has been documented by historians and journalists," and Fox News contributor Pat Caddell, who called opposition to voter ID Laws "the demise of our democracy" and "Slow motion suicide.”
In February 2013, True the Vote filed a federal lawsuit against St. Lucie County elections supervisor Gertrude Walker in Florida, claiming that she had failed to turn over public records related to the US House of Representatives election race between Allen West (R) and Patrick Murphy (D): The latter had won by a margin of 2,429 votes. They stated that withholding the documents violated the 1993 Motor Voter Law, which grants them permission to "publicly inspect and examine all voter registration and election records" in question.
In May 2013, it was revealed that True the Vote was one of the groups allegedly subjected to additional scrutiny by the IRS in applying for tax-exempt status. True the Vote told Breitbart.com that new revelations that the IRS was discriminating in 2012 against conservative non-profits came as no shock to them. "We applied for nonprofit C-3 status early in 2010," said Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, which has come under heavy assault from the Left for alleged voter suppression. "Since that time the IRS has run us through a gauntlet of analysts and hundreds of questions over and over again. They've requested to see each and every tweet I've ever tweeted or Facebook post I've ever posted. They also asked to know every place I've ever spoken since our inception and to whom, and everywhere I intend to speak in the future. We've met all requirements, responded to everything, and provided case law in such areas where appropriate," Engelbrecht stated. "The IRS treatment of us lends to the appearance of a politically motivated abuse of power and an assault on free speech."
According to the National Review, since founding True the Vote, Engelbrecht and her husband say they and their business, Engelbrecht Manufacturing, have also been investigated by the FBI, ATF, and OSHA. Englebrecht says she "absolutely" thinks she was targeted because she "worked against voter fraud."
In July 2013, Mother Jones said that they obtained documents indicating that Engelbrecht was a member of the Groundswell Group, a conservative group of journalists and activists that meet secretly to stay consistent on messaging. The group includes Virginia Thomas, wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, along with journalists from the National Review, Breitbart News, and the Washington Examiner.
On February 6, 2014, Engelbrecht testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at a hearing about the IRS's targetings. She alleged that ranking member Elijah Cummings had acted to "demonize and intimidate" her organization by sending it letters that duplicated IRS requests and by appearing on cable news to "publicly defame" her and True the Vote. Based on those allegations, Engelbrecht filed a formal ethics complaint against Cummings.
- Tom Cohen. May 22, 2013. IRS official in charge of targeting unit takes the 5th. CNN. Retrieved: 22 May 2013.
- Juliet Eilperin. May 21, 2013. Conservative group True the Vote sues IRS over being subject to heightened scrutiny. The Washington Post. Retrieved: 22 May 2013.
- Marcos, Cristina (2014-10-25). "Squadrons form for voter ID fight". The Hill. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- "TTV Homepage". Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- Stephanie Saul. September 16, 2012. Looking, Very Closely, for Voter Fraud. The New York Times. Retrieved: 24 May 2013.
- Rachel Slajda:DOJ Probes TX Voter Intimidation Complaints Talking Points Mudraker, Accessed February 22, 2012
- Ryan J. Reily: True the Vote says Eric Holder supports NAACP request for United Nations' involvement in U.S. elections Talking Points Mudraker, Accessed February 22, 2012
- Michael Finnegan. October 5, 2012. Congressman opens voting rights probe of tea party group. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved: 24 May 2013.
- Attkisson, Sharyl (2013-05-29). "What's going on between the IRS and True the Vote?". CBS News. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
- True the Vote: history Accessed February 22, 2012
- Blake, Mariah (Oct 2012). "The Ballot Cops". The Atlantic.
- True the Vote: new yorkers were paid to commit voter fraud Accessed February 22, 2012
- True the Vote: True the Vote Joins Effort to True Wisconsin Recall Election Accessed February 22, 2012
- True the Vote: Stories of Voter Fraud Accessed February 22, 2012
- Kevin Quinn:Allegations of Voter Fraud in Harris County , accessed May 18, 2013
- Ryan J. Reily: In Texas' Biggest County, a Minority Registration Drive is Crippled by Fraud Allegations Talking Points Muckraker, accessed February 22, 2012
- Carl Engleking: Tea Party Ready to do Battle in Court over Recall Signatures Menomonee Falls: Patch Accessed February 22, 2012
- Clay Barbour: GAB Posts Walker Recall Petitions Online Despite Privacy Concerns Wisconsin State Journal, Accessed February 22, 2012
- True the Vote: Volunteer Accessed February 22, 2012
- True the Vote: Wisc voter's name fraudulently signed four times Accessed February 22, 2012
- Walker Challenge Sworn Written Challenge of Governor Scott K. Walker
- True the Vote: Walker Recall Executive Summary
- Brenden Fischer and William Dooling: True the Vote or Skew the Vote PRWatch, Accessed March 2, 2012
- PRNewswire: True the Vote Provides Online Training For Wisconsin for Wisconsin. Published May 26, 2012. Accessed June 6, 2012
- PR Newswire: True the Vote & Wisconsin Coalition to Provide election overseer training published May 16, 2012. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- TrueTheVote.org, front page announcement, accessed June 6, 2012.
- Allison Bauter: Barrett campaign criticizes recall election observers backed by Texas group. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Published June 4, 2012. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- Press Release: Verify the Recall Undaunted by the GAB, Accessed June 6, 2012.
- Finnegan, Michael (October 5, 2012). "Congressman opens voting rights probe of tea party group". Los Angeles Times.
- Kent, Julie. "True the Vote Accused of Forging Signatures to Get Poll Monitors in Ohio". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- "Ohio Dems Falsely Accuse True the Vote".
- Your News Now: AG Holder In Austin vows to enforce civil rights protections Accessed February 22, 2012
- Katie Pavlich: Restoring Integrity in America's Elections, the 2012 True the Vote Summit. Townhall.com, posted April 27, 2012. Accessed June 6, 2012.
- "Allen West concedes to Patrick Murphy". Politico. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
- Nick Wing (4 February 2013). "True The Vote Sues For 'Comprehensive, Outside Audit' Of Allen West Recount". The Huffington Post.
- The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/05/21/conservative-group-true-the-vote-sues-irs-over-being-subject-to-heightened-scrutiny/
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- John D. McKinnon, Siobhan Hughes (12 May 2013). "Wider Problems Found at IRS". Wall Street Journal.
- Brandon Darby (13 May 2013). "IRS Scandal: Facts Suggest Other Gov Agencies Involved". TexasGOPVote.com.
- Melchior, Jillian Kay (May 20, 2013). "True Scandal: A tea-party group targeted by Democrats gets attention from the IRS—and the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF.". National Review.
- " "The IRS Targeting Investigation: What is the Administration Doing?". 6 Feb 2014.
- "True the Vote Founder to Congress: "I Will Not Retreat. I Will Not Surrender. I Refuse To Be Intimidated"". Real Clear Politics. 6 February 2014.
- "TRUE THE VOTE'S ENGELBRECHT FILES FORMAL ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS". Breitbart. Feb 6, 2014.