Note: I mirrored this because Rolling Stone cited it and I couldn't find it anywhere online.



                         Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

                   October 27, 2004, Wednesday, Metro Edition

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1B

LENGTH: 1097 words

HEADLINE: VOTER REGISTRATION;
3 former workers: Firm paid pro-Bush bonuses;
One said he was told his job was to bring back cards for GOP voters.

BYLINE: Mark Brunswick; Pat Doyle; Staff Writers

BODY:

   Three former canvassers for a company working in Minnesota to reelect
President Bush have come forward to say they were paid bonuses for registering
Bush supporters but got nothing for registering voters who favor challenger John
Kerry.

        One man, who worked for only a few hours for the company, Sproul and
Associates, said it was implied that he could be fired for coming back with only
Kerry registration cards.

        "I was told, your job is to bring in Republican cards. If you don't,
then you won't be working here for very long," said Adam Banse, who quit after
two hours.

        While the state of Minnesota doesn't require voters to register by party
affiliation, Sproul sought to determine political allegiances by having
canvassers ask people they registered whether they supported Bush or Kerry or
were undecided, according to the three canvassers.

        There is nothing illegal about seeking voters' preferences or paying
bonuses, so long as all of the registrations are properly turned in, according
to the offices of the secretary of state and the attorney general. But Leslie
Sandberg, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mike Hatch, said: "The fact that
they were differentiating with voter-registration cards between one party and
others - this is troubling. You don't know what happens when they bring them
back to the firm."

        The company denied paying selective bonuses.

        Voter-registration drives have been intense and sometimes controversial
during the presidential campaign. The Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now (ACORN) paid canvassers $1 for each registration card they collected.
The group targeted low- and moderate-income Minnesotans whom Democrats count on
but did not pay bonuses depending on who was registered.

        The Minnesota Republican Party criticized ACORN after one of its former
canvassers was found with 323 completed registration forms in his car that
allegedly should have been turned in to the secretary of state. ACORN had fired
the worker months earlier after the Hennepin County attorney's office told the
organization that he was suspected of submitting duplicates of registration
cards to double his fee.

        But Becky Gomer, head organizer for ACORN in Minnesota, drew a sharp
distinction Tuesday between that episode and the payment practices attributed to
Sproul by the former workers.

        "Nothing that we've done compares at all to that aggressive of a
campaign," she said, referring to the reports of Sproul's refusal to pay
canvassers for registration cards collected from Kerry supporters.

        Sproul has come under criticism elsewhere in the country. Democrats in
Nevada charged in a lawsuit that a Sproul-run company destroyed
voter-registration forms that its workers had collected from Democratic voters.
Similar allegations have surfaced in Oregon and West Virginia.

        Three experiences

        Former canvasser Banse, a graduate student and substitute teacher living
in Fridley, said at first he was attracted to the flexible hours and impressive
pay for a temporary job: $13 an hour, with the $3 bonus for every Bush,
undecided or Ralph Nader voter registration. Canvassers returned that
information, and verifiers called those who registered to confirm their support
for Bush. In one case, Banse said, he registered his brother, who is a Kerry
supporter. When the verifiers called to check the brother's support for Bush,
the brother lied to get Banse the bonus.

        Another canvasser, Terrance Dodd, of St. Paul, said he began working for
Sproul through a temporary service. At an orientation, Dodd said, it became
clear what the mission was.

        "We were told we were going to focus on getting Republicans or undecided
registered. If they were Democrats, pretty much blow them off," said Dodd, who
worked for Sproul for one weekend.

        Dodd, who acknowledges that he is a Kerry supporter, said he registered
15 people but they were all Democrats. Sproul's group never called him back. "I
didn't like the fact that I wasn't supposed to register Democrats, but I needed
the money," he said.

        When Justin Lee took a job registering voters, his employer gave him
printed instructions to report the presidential preferences of the people
filling out the voter-registration cards he was collecting.

        Lee was to bring the cards and the information about the new voters'
political sympathies to Sproul's Bloomington office. He said Sproul had agreed
to pay him $3 per registration card - with one caveat.

        "Kerry cards don't pay," Lee wrote as a reminder to himself on the
instructions.

        Lee said he reported to Sproul on the sympathies of the new voters he
signed up by attaching sticky notes to their registration cards that identified
them as Bush or Kerry supporters. He said he turned in all the cards.

        Lee wore a Bush-Cheney button when he canvassed and said most of the
people he signed up expressed support for the president. He said he was paid for
those cards but not for those signed by people who favored Kerry.

        Arizona-based Sproul did not return telephone calls seeking comment on
the bonus payments to its canvassers. But in a previous interview, Nathan
Sproul, the former head of the Republican Party in Arizona who operates the
firm, denied paying canvassers only for Bush registrations.

        Call for investigation

        On Tuesday, the liberal Democrat-oriented grass-roots group Minnesota
ACT raised questions about Sproul's activities in Minnesota and called on
Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer to investigate whether Sproul had
acted improperly in the state. Minnesota ACT also called on the state Republican
Party to reveal any contracts it has with Sproul.

        Following the Minnesota ACT press conference, Sproul's office released a
statement: "The Democrats continue to follow the Kerry campaign/DNC playbook.
They allege fraud where none exists and get the media to cover it. They have now
broadened their attack to include alleging fraud by Sproul & Associates where no
work was even done. "

        The Minnesota Republican Party noted that Sproul has worked for the
Republican National Committee on several campaigns in swing states, not the
state parties.

        "ACT can't even get its facts straight. The Republican Party of
Minnesota has never contracted with Sproul and Associates," said Randy Wanke,
communications director for the state Republican Party.

        The writers are at      mbrunswick@startribune.com and
pdoyle@startribune.com.