The Theory of an Election “Investigation”

First we’re going to tell a true story about real people in northwest Louisiana who are playing at “Fixing” an election. The actions and incidents are based upon reports, observations and information supplied by sources we have known to be accurate in prior events. We have neither the resources nor personnel to validate all that is reported , but it is our contention that there is enough truth to warrant this report.

Is the Fix in?

Two investigators from Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s office have been in Caddo and Bossier parishes since the October 22 primary asking lots of questions about “election irregularities.” Both of the district attorneys of the parishes have been formally asked to investigate violations of election laws by Representative Jane Smith. Theses “Violations” center around an election flyer circulated and authorized by candidates and paid for by either the candidates or PACs registered with the Secretary of State’s office. All of this is consistent with legal election policies. The issues being debated center more around the relationship of the candidates and Mayor Cedric Glover’s endorsement of Sen. Lydia Jackson for reelection.

Gregory Tarver is seeking a return to the seat he held prior to Lydia Jackson’s election. Tarver has the endorsement of both parish district attorneys, Governor Jindal and numerous Republican officials in both parishes. The endorsements and even donations to the Tarver campaign make it impossible for them to be involved in a formal investigation. The endorsements also taint the credibility of officials in the performance of their sworn offices. These endorsements are probably the result of Jackson’s refusal to support or endorse Jindal agenda items that she feels are contrary to the interest of her constituents. The chief complaint against Jackson has been her lack of approachability and her insistence that her campaign be run through her and her close-knit group. This has certainly not helped her win friends in high places, but it certainly has marked her as an independent among the ranks of the highly charged Baton Rouge Capitol group.

In reviewing the “Ballotgate” issues, we found numerous unregistered “Ballots” and election-day transportation services in play. The unregistered group: The United Independents of Democracy, whose “Empowerment Ballot” listed Jane Smith and Greg Tarver at the top of their ticket. Interestingly, they showed two numbers to call for transportation to the polls: 752-1103 & 404-4837. The parties answering these phones were reticent to identify themselves, but those in the community know who they are. The authorities are certainly not looking to follow up on this until after November 19, when they can deliver as many Tarver Votes as possible. After that time, all bets may be off and the “Investigators” may make these low-level operatives the scapegoats for the powers in Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

Coincidentally, we found that there is a registered PAC by the same name, listing Julian Darby, Donna Stewart and Craig Lee as officers. Their registered address is 1130 Beverly Street, but when the numbers were called, those answering refused to identify themselves and disavowed any knowledge of the ballot. The Ballot in question does not comply with legal Louisiana campaign material and the PAC is subject to penalties and fines, as such.

At the end of this short story you will find links to ALL the Louisiana and Federal Election Complaint official sites and protocols for filing a complaint.  The Federal Election Commission frequently receives questions about how to file a complaint concerning possible violations of federal election campaign laws.

Violations & Complaint under Louisiana Law

Elections Compliance Unit

The Elections Compliance Unit, as part of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, is charged with the investigation and reporting of matters involving violations of the Louisiana Election Code. The Unit is composed of law enforcement officers with statewide jurisdiction. The Unit conducts investigations that involve voter fraud, vote buying and voter intimidation during early voting, absentee by mail voting, and Election Day voting. In addition, the Unit also investigates allegations of persons providing false or misleading information to a Registrar or to a Commissioner, during the registration or voting process.

During early voting and on Election Day, electioneering complaints should be brought to the attention of the commissioners who are working at the various precincts. The commissioners, along with local law enforcement, can address any problem areas.

The Unit works closely with District Attorneys and local law enforcement officials around the state on any criminal violations of the Election Code.  The District Attorney is the agency for the review of all matters that may involve a criminal prosecution.

Federal Complaints: Any person may file a complaint if he or she believes a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Laws or Commission regulations has occurred or is about to occur.  The complaint must be made in writing and sent to the Office of General Counsel, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.  20463.  The original must be submitted along with three copies, if possible. Facsimile or e-mail transmissions are not acceptable.  A complaint must comply with certain requirements.  It must:

  • Provide the full name and address of the person filing the complaint (called the complainant); and
  • Be signed, sworn to and notarized. This means that the notary public’s certificate must say “…signed and sworn to before me…,” or words that connote the complaint was affirmed by the complainant, (such as “under penalty of perjury”).

Furthermore, in order for a complaint to be considered complete and proper, it should:

  • Clearly recite the facts that show specific violations under the Commission’s jurisdiction (citations to the law and regulations are not necessary);
  • Clearly identify each person, committee or group that is alleged to have committed a violation (called the respondent);
  • Include any documentation supporting the allegations, if available; and
  • Differentiate between statements based on the complainant’s (the person who files the complaint) personal knowledge and those based on information and belief. Statements not based on personal knowledge should identify the source of the information.

For self-reported complaints (called “sua sponte” submissions), the submission should include an admission of the violation(s), a complete recitation of the facts along with all relevant documentation that explains how the violation was discovered, the internal actions that were taken in response to the violation and what other agencies, if any, are investigating the violation (or facts surrounding the violation).

The Commission seeks to increase the number of self-reported submissions in order to expedite enforcement of the law.  To encourage self-reporting, the Commission will generally negotiate penalties between 25 and 75 percent lower than those for matters arising by other means, such as through complaints or the Commission’s own review of reports.  In certain circumstances, the Commission may allow committees who voluntarily report their violations and make a complete report of their internal investigation to proceed directly into conciliation before the Commission makes a finding as to whether there is reason to believe the committee violated campaign finance laws or Commission regulations.3