The SOS Project, Mark Ritchie and the Coleman-Franken Race
May 14, 2009
As I posted yesterday, I’ll be following the Secretary of State (SOS) Project – another organization bankrolled by billionaire hedge fund kingpin George Soros aimed at pushing American politics sharply to the left. Like Justice at Stake – which works to give special interest groups like the trial bar more influence over who sits on state courts – the SOS Project poses as a non-partisan, “good government” reform effort. The truth is, the SOS Project is committed to electing sharply partisan Democrats who they believe can help shift votes in close elections to their favored candidates.
Consider Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, elected in 2006 with the financial backing of the SOS Project. One of the critical roles for Secretaries of State is to oversee elections and serve as an impartial arbiter while overseeing recounts in disputed contests. Yet shortly it became obvious that the Coleman-Franken Senate race was headed for a long, drawn-out recount, Ritchie went on national TV and accused Coleman’s campaign of trying “to win at any price.”
The Coleman campaign said Ritchie’s partisan comments showed he couldn’t govern the recount process fairly, but don’t listen to them. Here’s what Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten had to say (emphasis added):
“Let’s assume the 32 disputed ballots in Minneapolis were legitimate. Let’s assume the newly discovered 100 votes in Pine County — all for Al Franken — were just overlooked by a sleepy official, and the 100 votes found in Mountain Iron — again, all for Franken — were valid.
“Let’s suppose the trickle of votes moving inexorably in Franken’s direction is just a function of a normal process, as Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office assures us.
“One fact remains troubling. The referee in Minnesota’s hotly contested Senate race must act in a nonpartisan fashion, yet Ritchie came to office through a nationwide partisan strategy. He was elected in 2006 as part of a national campaign to ensure that Democrats could wield influence in precisely the sort of hair’s breadth race we now have here.
“Ritchie gained office with the help of the Secretary of State Project (SOS), an independent 527 group co-founded by former MoveOn.org leader James Rucker. SOS is based in San Francisco, and is funded in part by ultra-liberal kingmakers such as George Soros.
“Secretary of state positions are a “new front” in the “battle for political control,” the paper explained, because they are “the obscure but vital state offices that determine who votes and how those votes are counted.”
Ritchie has also come under attack for his ties to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the same group that figured in voting issues in Ohio in the Presidential election last year. Trent England in the pages of the Wall Street Journal described the group as “a group under investigation in several states for suspected voter registration chicanery.”
If any of this happened under a Republican watch, you can bet the Democrats would be crying “dirty tricks.” When it helps Democrats can get to the magic number of 60 seats in the U.S. Senate, no one seems to mind. Tilting close elections like Minnesota’s in their favor is exactly why the SOS Project is spending millions to assure that left-leaning Democrats control these offices.