Sunday, December 10, 2000

Marlboros for Gore votes




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        The lady in the fluffy fur coat paused at the door of her chauffeured Mercedes and described herself as “an ordinary Park Avenue matron.”

        It sounded like “ordinary Rockefeller.” They don't exist. And there was nothing ordinary about her story on ABC News.

        Constance Milstein, a platinum-card Democrat, flew into Milwaukee a few days before the election to help Gore-Lieberman workers trade packs of cigarettes for votes at a homeless shelter.

        “We call it "smokes for votes,' ” said Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Walker, chair
man of the Bush campaign in Milwaukee. “We have videotape and a log by the security officer at the homeless shelter. He asked them to leave because the homeless people were complaining about Gore-Lieberman workers asking them to vote for cigarettes.”

        Rep. Walker expects criminal charges against Ms. Milstein and others, under the state's election bribery law. And that's not all.

        The Milwaukee GOP also filed complaints alleging two dozen incidents of “voter fraud of a kind previously seen only in Chicago.”

        • “Marquette University students were seen taking 10 or more ballots at a time.” A survey of 1,000 students by the campus Marquette Tribune found 174 who said they voted more than once. “Students said that identification was rarely checked . . . (and) they picked up extra ballots or were handed multiple ballots and voted on all of them.”

        • “Poll workers told a voter to "vote Democrat.' ”

        • “A poll worker at the door was reported saying, "If you're voting for Bush, you might as well leave.' ”

        • After one student told ABC News he voted four times, Marquette President Robert Wild was “shocked, disappointed and frankly angered.” A news story pointed out that voter fraud can get you 4 1/4-years in prison and a $1,000 fine. The student quickly retracted his story.

        Wisconsin has same-day voter registration: Just show a driver's license, utility bill or any proof of state residence and vote. It's easier than renting Gladiator at Blockbuster.

        But the Wisconsin story was eclipsed by Florida, where bug-eyed Democrats have put every dimple and crease under a magnifying glass to find . . . nothing but imaginary Gore votes. Judge Sanders Sauls found no evidence of fraud or dishonesty.

        Rep. Walker has watched in frustration. “We've felt all along that what we were faced with in Wisconsin was much more serious.”

        So why aren't Gore lawyers swarming all over Cheeseland? Because Mr. Gore won there by 5,700 votes. And the fraud trail leads to Gore-Lieberman.

        The contrast says plenty, and none of it is flattering to Democrats.

        While Democrats sent lawyers to dig up fraud in Florida, they hired lawyers to cover it up in Wisconsin. Local Democrats said they had nothing to do with “votes for smokes.” But they sent faxes defending Ms. Milstein, Rep. Walker said, and party officials are retaining lawyers to defend themselves. “That doesn't sound like nothing,” he said.

        In Wisconsin, Democrats said voter fraud “is not a situation that should become politicized.” In Florida, Democrats politicized every chad.

        In Florida, Gore's team insists George W. Bush would be just as stubborn if he were the loser. But there was stronger evidence of fraud in Wisconsin. Mr. Bush dropped it.

        Democratic Party leaders have refused to ring Al Gore's doorbell and introduce him to Mr. Reality, because they believe he won. They also believe “ordinary matrons” live on Park Avenue, Marlboro Country is a homeless shelter and Democrats can vote as often as it takes to win.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.
       

       



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