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November 6, 2010 / J. Shaw

Justice Dept-Voter Intimidation Complaint Against Reid Camp

The Justice Department is reviewing a complaint from failed Republican Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle after allegations that Sen. Harry Reid’s campaign engaged in voter intimidation and broke campaign finance law in his re-election campaign.

Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, told on Friday that the department is reviewing the complaint filed by an attorney for Angle that followed a National Review report about internal e-mails among Harrah’s casino executives and a campaign staffer for Reid. The e-mails appear to show the group orchestrating an effort to push Harrah employees to get out and vote for Reid.

Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Federal Election Commission member and Justice Department official, told that there is enough evidence in the e-mails to warrant opening an investigation because they suggest that both the Reid campaign and Harrah’s may have violated federal campaign finance law that “prohibits in-kind corporate and union contributions to, and coordination with, political campaigns.”

“Look, a company can encourage its employees to go out and vote, but if you have e-mails coming in from a candidate like Harry Reid saying you’ve got to get out the vote for me, you have coordination going on between the candidate and the corporation,” he told

Von Spakovsky also argued they Harrah’s may have violated federal criminal law that prohibits intimidation and coercion of citizens exercising their right to vote — or not to vote.

“On coercion, it boils down to what kind of threats, if any, were used against employees,” he said. “Were they told there will be adverse employment consequences? The only way to figure out is to open an investigation, subpoena all the e-mails … and get the employees in front of a grand jury so they can testify to what they were being told by supervisors.”

But Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW, said the case doesn’t hold up.



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