Conservative group faces felony probe for mailers

By Stephanie Carson
Public News Service-NC

RALEIGH — The State Board of Elections is investigating the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity to determine whether it committed a felony after the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a formal complaint on Monday. This comes after AFP sent thousands of mailers to citizens across the state including incorrect voting and registration information. Josh Lawson, a North Carolina attorney and spokesperson for the State Board of Elections, says they met with an AFP representative early Monday morning and discovered, in some cases, the mailer went out multiple times to the same person.

election2014logo“We know it went everywhere, and unfortunately we have people complaining of third and fourth warnings,” says Lawson. “People are still going to be getting these through this week.”

It is against the law in North Carolina to intentionally mislead people about voter registration and discourage them from voting. So far, the organization which receives funding from the Koch brothers, says the incorrect information is a mistake.

Bob Phillips, executive director with Common Cause North Carolina, joins others in questioning the intent behind the mailer.

“That’s very sloppy and lazy, and one wonders about the intent behind it, particularly with whom the mailers are going to,” he says.

Americans for Prosperity says the intent behind the mailers was to educate voters. Earlier this year AFP sent mailers with incorrect information to voters in West Virginia, and last year the organization sent letters to Virginia voters claiming the recipients hadn’t registered to vote and they would “tell their neighbors.” Lawson says the state has asked AFP to take immediate action to correct the misinformation.

“We met with the deputy general counsel of Americans for Prosperity and requested of him that they explore options on trying to ensure the folks that received wrong information receive correct information,” says Lawson. “He said he would carry that message back, and we’re hoping we’ll get a good answer.”

October 10 is the deadline to register to vote in North Carolina, because of last year’s voting law. Unlike in prior years, out-of-precinct voting is not permitted, and there is limited acceptance of provisional ballots. Voters are not required to come to the polls in this election with a photo ID.

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