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The Florida of the Northwest

Oregon Democrats Sabotage Nader…Again

by JOSHUA FRANK

Ralph Nader isn’t having much fun these days. How could he? Putting up with the Democrat’s "dirty tricks" is full time job.

The most recent assault by Democrats to the Nader campaign, and perhaps the most egregious, came this week in Oregon where Democrats successfully stopped Nader from attaining ballot access.

"The Secretary of State in Oregon [Democrat Bill Bradbury] told us to number our petition sheets," Nader’s spokesperson Kevin Zeese says. "Then he refused to put us on the ballot because we numbered them — discarding enough signatures to make us 200 short."

This wasn’t the first time Democrats in the state have gone after Nader however. They’ve been at it for months. The ex-anti-war crusader turned Kerry puppet, Howard Dean, spoiled the Nader campaign’s first bid to get on the Oregon ballot by suppressing turn out with an aggressive media barrage the day of Nader’s convention.

Weeks later during Nader’s second event in Oregon the Democrats struck again, this time by sending 150 Kerry backers into the hall to swell the crowd to over 1,000, which forced them close the doors and leave out hundreds of angry Naderites. The Democrat invaders then refused to sign Nader’s petition, which would have put him on the ballot by bringing together 1,000 supporters in one meeting. The Nader campaign failed to make the mark that day by a mere 50 signatures.

As if that wasn’t enough, Oregon Democrats then hired a law-firm to harass Nader’s signature gatherers in the state.

"Democrats are promising to line-up law firms to litigate our ballot access on frivolous technicalities," Nader stated in a campaign press release on July 9. "Democrats are harassing our petitioners. This anti-democratic activity by the Democratic Party limiting the voter’s choices to only the two major party candidates, is a repudiation of voters who wish to vote for candidates of their choice and shows the lack of confidence Democrats have in their own candidate."

In Oregon it was Margaret S. Olney of Smith, Diamond, and Olney who threatened Nader petition circulators by sending them intimidating letters. In her note Olney wrote that her firm, which was hired by Democrats, was investigating "whether fraudulent signature-gathering techniques were used in the circulation of those petitions [and the petitioner's involvement] may result in a conviction of a felony with a fine of up to $100,000 or prison for up to five years."

Even after the Nader campaign complained to Oregon’s Secretary of State, the firm sent investigators to the individual’s homes and repeated the threats.

"Despite this harassment and abuse we were still able to collect 28,000 signatures and the counties verified more than 18,000," says Zeese. "We needed 15,300 to get on the ballot. The Democrats alleged fraud and forgery — but couldn’t find any — so the Democratic Secretary of State disqualified us for following the advice we were given by his office."

Of the 28,000 signatures turned in 10,000 were deemed invalid by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, the Katherine Harris of the Beaver State. The state Elections Division then disregarded another 2,354 signatures because of the numbering problems, plus an additional 718 signatures because Nader petitioners did not sign and date each sheet of names.

Greg Kafoury, Nader’s campaign manager in Oregon, is planning to file lawsuit against the Secretary’s office in Multnomah Circuit Court this week.

"I think it is partisan. I think it is cynical. I think it is corrupt," says Kafoury.

He forgot to mention undemocratic. But then that goes with the territory.

JOSHUA FRANK, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.