A Dec. 22 Newsmax article by David A. Patten, headlined, "ACORN, Soros, Linked to Franken Vote Grab," doesn't fulfill the promise of its headline. Rather, Patten attacks Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie as allegedly having "extensive ties to both the ACORN organization now under federal investigation for vote fraud, and to MoveOn.org ultra-liberal kingmaker George Soros."
And what are those "extensive ties"? Patten tells us: "In 2006, ACORN endorsed Ritchie in his bid to become secretary of state, and Ritchie also received a campaign contribution that year from Soros." That's "extensive"?
Patten also alleges that Ritchie was a beneficiary of a Soros-funded project whose "express purpose is to seed state election bureaucracies nationwide with partisan activists ... who are strategically positioned to influence the outcome of close recounts like the one now underway in Minnesota." Patten adds that the project "was founded after Democrats involved in George W. Bush’s narrow 2000 election victory blamed Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for influencing the outcome."
As for evidence that Ritchie is spearheading a "Franken vote grab" in the Minnesota Senate race recount between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Patten offers none -- instead, he quotes our old friend Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center calling Ritchie "a hard-core liberal who was endorsed by ACORN and funded by ACORN" and who has "a permissive attitude toward the recount process." Patten also states that "ruling after ruling by the Ritchie-led State Canvassing Board has gone against Coleman," but fails to note that Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved the canvassing board's composition, and that a lawyer for Coleman's campaign reportedly said that the "state should feel good about who's on the panel."
If all this sounds a little familiar, it's because eight years ago, Newsmax was on the other side of a similar election controversy.
Newsmax was all about defending then-Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris during the 2000 presidential election recount, declaring her "the one and only hero to emerge from the election crisis" and asking its readers to email their support to her.
But a search of Newsmax's online archives found no reference to the one relevent piece of information about Harris that was the basis for much of the controversy surrounding her: she was the Florida co-chair for George W. Bush's campaign and had campaigned for him, and her certifying Bush as the winner in the face of controversies surrounding the voting process made him the president.
While that would seem to have relevance in an article on the alleged political affiliations of state election officials, Patten fails to mention that fact as well in his reference to Harris. Further, Patten offers no evidence that Ritchie is behaving any different than Harris, whose behavior Newsmax endorsed and defended.
UPDATE: MN Publius reports that people on the Newsmax mailing list have received a fund-raising letter from the Republican National Lawyers Association, which baselessly asserts that Franken and "his liberal allies are working feverishingly to steal the Minnesota Senate election."