The US Republican Party has fired a voter registration consultant after the firm turned in falsified voter registration forms, triggering a criminal investigation just six weeks before the country’s presidential election, US media report.
Florida prosecutors are probing the scandal for possible fraud after Strategic Allied Consulting, a company paid more than $3.1 million this year by the National Republican Committee, RNC, admitted an employee completed several forms with forged particulars.
The firm is owned by Republican Party’s long-time operative, Nathan Sproul. The company said a single employee was responsible for the forged signatures which spread to 10 counties in Florida; and denied orchestrating it to favour the Republicans. The Republican Party has swiftly cut ties with the company saying it has “zero tolerance” for voter fraud.
“If you don’t do it right, it doesn’t assist us in any way,” RNC spokesman, Sean Spicer, is quoted as saying. “When the allegations yesterday were brought to our attention, we severed our relationship.
We acted swiftly and boldly.”
Mr. Sproul’s firm was hired to do voter registration drives in the swing-states of Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, where November election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is expected to be decided.
Other firms owned by Mr. Sproul have been accused in past elections of vote fraud designed to assist the Republican party. His Lincoln Strategy Group was paid about $70,000 by the Romney campaign during the primaries for signatures, the Los Angeles Times said.
Mr. Sproul said the company’s name changed this time from Lincoln Strategy Group at the request of the Republican Party which feared the past allegations may imperil the party’s chances in the poll.
The company has helped identify 106 forms submitted by the same worker. But the NRC swiftly distanced itself from the firm and filed a complaint with the Florida Secretary of State’s Office.
Analysts say the republicans’ response notwithstanding, the scandal may further prove costly for Mr. Romney’s party’s quest to retake the White House, a campaign that has suffered strings of blows in recent weeks.