Bladen Madness Highlights Selective Law Enforcement

Dec 11, 2018, RALEIGH — Amid the more ironic findings of the current Bladen County investigation into absentee ballot harvesting comes the open admission by former State BOE Executive Director, Gary Bartlett, exposing the dirty little secret about prosecutions: Voter fraud isn’t a crime unless it gets prosecuted and District Attorneys are loath to go there.

Hat tip to Ned Barnett at the Raleigh N&O for reporting this problem. While the 9th Congressional District election is highlighting absentee ballot fraud, exposure of this more systemic defect is one of the side benefits.

The article pointed out how Bartlett’s 20-year career at the helm featured numerous investigations that led to criminal referrals that were routinely killed by local prosecutors.

“We’ve reported it. We’ve had the (State Bureau of Investigation) turn us down. There have been referrals (to local prosecutors) and nothing has been done.” – Gary Bartlett, SBOE Director from 1993 to 2013

Bartlett said he referred cases of suspected absentee ballot fraud in Yancey, Bladen, Robeson, Mitchell, Swain, and Columbus counties that were “declined” by local District Attorneys.

To their discredit, neither Bartlett nor the N&O mentions the voter impersonation fraud cases that election officials referred. There are several high-profile cases that all died on the vine, but we’ll save that for another day. Instead, the N&O piece is laser focussed on absentee fraud, and that’s better than nothing.

We’ve documented on these pages the frustrations VIP has had in getting DAs to prosecute criminal referrals of interstate double voting. While we did get convictions on the cases of Roger Herres and Pasco Parker, we’ve also gotten a prosecution of the lawyered-up Steven Curtis “Chip” Thompson, of Moore County.

But an interesting pattern emerges in these referrals: All of them were registered as  Republicans in at least one state. We’ve had numerous other cases referred to District Attorneys that were declined with no further comment. So many of them were listed as Democrats, that we wondered if local politics was skewing the prosecutors’ decision making.

Bob Diamond explains why he petitioned Superior Court to appoint a Special Prosecutor to do Murray’s job.

Puzzled over this, we met with Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray. The “we” in this story included me (Jay), local citizen Bob Diamond and a retired Medicaid fraud investigator named Billy Creel. Billy had been a direct report to the NC AG for most of his career and I invited him along to kick me in the rear if I got out of line.

We walked away disgusted with Murray’s excuses for not prosecuting. In our meeting, he boasted of being “tough on vote fraud,” by his prosecuting or Charlotte’s former mayor for his poor choice to vote while a convicted felon. While that event gave Murray some “cred,” it’s not a crime too many people can relate to.

Interstate double voting is another matter. Allegations fly that college students are doing this crime, but the college-age double voters we discovered may have been ignored by another District Attorney! While it’s hard work to detect interstate double voting, we devised data analytics that DID detect it. But then we’ve had to fight politicians like Murray who resist prosecuting the perps.

One good point Murray made in his defense was that the penalty was too low to bother with the crime. We agreed and posted an April Fools story that highlighted the fact that stealing pine straw in NC is a bigger crime than is stealing elections.

There is an answer to this problem…

Later Murray was nominated to the office of US Attorney, Western District of NC, and we tried our best to derail his coronation by pointing out the blind spot he has for prosecuting voter fraud… but we failed.

We did this by calling on the Trump Administration to withdraw Murray’s nomination for US Attorney by using NCGS § 163A-1446 to petition the Mecklenburg County Superior Court to appoint a special prosecutor for two confirmed cases of voter fraud that Murray, had refused to prosecute.

The obscure statute allows a private citizen to work around any compromised District Attorneys who receive a criminal referral for either voter fraud or campaign finance fraud and then refuse to prosecute. We’re not saying Murray is crooked, but that’s the intent behind that statute. If the citizens can prove that the DA has sat on the referral for more than 45 days, they can petition Superior Court to appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Murray brushed aside our complaint, calling it a “publicity stunt,” but the message was sent to DAs all across the state. It may take us a long time, but we’re coming after you if you sit on vote fraud cases.

The take away for those reading this blog post is that we need to raise the penalties for vote fraud.