Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a Republican running for governor next year, seemed to agree in a recent radio interview that voter fraud helped President Obama win reelection.
During a Nov. 20 interview, two WMAL radio hosts discussed alleged instances of voter fraud that they said they’d heard about via email, one of them claiming that nurses had cast ballots for “vegetables” in nursing homes.
“Clearly there’s something going on out there,” guest host Cheri Jacobus said, noting that Obama had not won any states that required voters to present photo ID at the polls.
“I’m with you completely,” Cuccinelli said.
The exchange, first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, prompted the state Democratic Party to accuse Cuccinelli of spreading “voter fraud conspiracy theories.”
Brian J. Gottstein, Cuccinelli’s communications director, said Cuccinelli was not suggesting that the election had been stolen, but merely echoing the hosts’ frustrations with his inability to launch voter fraud investigations. Gottstein called controversy over the comments — they were picked up by news outlets ranging from The Huffington Post and a New York Times blog — “made-up news.”
During the interview, Cuccinelli bemoaned the fact that state law does not give him authority to initiate voter fraud investigations. He can only take up such cases once they are referred to his office by other officials.
“There needs to be a way for people to be able to report this stuff and have it looked into,” Jacobus said. “Just across the country, we’re hearing so many stories, and people can talk about it, but nothing seems to be done. And in fact, in the states where voter ID is required — photo ID — Obama lost every one of those states. He can’t win in a state where photo ID is required. So clearly there’s something going on out there. And until there’s a way to have something done about it, ... the other side just says, ‘Oh well, you’re just poor losers.’”
Cuccinelli’s response: “Well look, Cheri. Your tone suggests you’re a little bit upset with me. You’re preaching to the choir. I’m with you completely.”
Obama did not win any of the four states — Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia — that have what the National Conference of State Legislatures classifies as “strict” laws requiring voters to present photo ID. He won four — New Hampshire, Michigan and Florida and Hawaii — that still call for photo ID, but with loopholes. In Florida, for instance, someone who does not present photo ID at the polls may still vote by provisional ballot, which will eventually be counted if the signature on the ballot envelope is later found to match the signature in voter registration records.
Host Brian Wilson echoed Jacobus’s concerns.
“Reading these emails, you just get furious about what happened on Election Day in some precincts,” Wilson said. “Look, something went on in some precincts that wasn’t copacetic. It wasn’t right. And it’s frustrating to hear you, the top law enforcement officer the commonwealth of Virginia, to say, ‘I’m sorry, my hands are tied.’”
Cuccinelli: “And they are.”
Gottstein said Cuccinelli was only responding to the hosts’ frustrations about his inability to launch election fraud cases on his own.
“The two WMAL radio hosts brought up example after example of alleged voter fraud issues surrounding election day and, frustrated, asked the attorney general over and over again why he couldn’t conduct investigations into many of them,” Gottstein said via email. “After six minutes of listening to these examples, the attorney general said, ‘Your tone suggests you're a little upset with me. You're preaching to the choir. I'm with you completely.’ When you listen to the whole eight-minute interview and not just a 20-second clip of it, it’s obvious he was referring to his frustration and the hosts’ frustration that his hands were tied in most of the incidences because Virginia law doesn’t allow him to open investigations into election irregularities on his own. The full context of the interview shows it’s clear he was referring to the bevy of irregularities the hosts cited, NOT just to Ms. Jacobus’s one claim about the president, which is what the media has focused on today.”