Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Man charged in VA for destroying voter applications worked for vendor under investigation in FL



colin_small.jpgA contractor hired by the Republican Party of Virginia -- and who had worked for a company now under investigation in Florida for voter registration fraud -- was arrested Thursday after allegedly trashing application forms.

Colin Small, 23, (left) was charged with 13 felony and misdemeanor counts for throwing voter registration forms into a dumpster, according to a news release (see attached below) by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia.

The sheriff's office stated that Small, who is from Phoenixville, PA., was a “voter registration supervisor” working for PinPoint, a firm hired by the Republican Party of Virginia to register voters. 

 Yet Small's LinkedIn page states that he had a much bigger role with the Republican National Committee: grass roots field director, from August to now, where he managed "a team of 15-20 grassroots canvassers, conducting voter registration drives, staffing political rallies, organizing Get Out the Vote Efforts."

That role was denied by Sean Spicer, the RNC's communications director. In an email to The Buzz, Spicer said Small "is not nor was ever employed by the RNC." Asked if he had seen Small's LinkedIn page, Spicer said he had. 

He said if Small had been an RNC employee, he would have been listed in the RNC's Federal Elections Commission report. 

Small's LinkedIn profile states that he graduated from Catholic University of America this year, with a bachelor's in "world politics" and a minor in philosophy. Among his prior jobs listed: dorm hall security assistant, a greeter at the Capitol City Brewing Company ("answer phones and provide excellent customer service"), a new media intern at the Catholics Family and Human Rights Institute (where, among other duties, he "researched U.S. and Chinese demographic trends and policies, and subsequent national security ramifications") and an intern, from September 2011 to December 2011, for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-PA. (where he, among other things, "prepared research regarding the U.S., Columbia Free Trade Agreement which aided the congressman in his decision to support the ageement.")

It's not clear why Small threw the forms out. Unlike Florida, party affiliation is not included on Virginia applications. It is illegal, however, to throw out completed forms in both states.

According to the Rockingham County Sheriff's news release, on Monday someone saw Small throw the applications out. The witness then retrieved them, wrote down his license plate, and contacted the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office. 

"There is no indication that this activity is widespread in our jurisdiction," the report stated. "It appears to be very limited in nature but there is the possibility that additional charges may be filed in the future if it is deemed appropriate."

The case has ramifications here in Florida and elsewhere, however, because PinPoint had been a subcontractor for Strategic Allied Consulting, a private firm that had been the only firm the Republican National Committee had tapped to register voters -- until reports emerged last month that employees had been filing fraudulent applications. Representatives with the firm said they fired two employees who had turned in fraudulent forms in Lee and Palm Beach counties. Officials with SAC couldn't be reached Friday.  

The Republican Party of Florida fired the Strategic Allied Consulting, as did other states, including Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina, all swing states where the firm was registering voters. In Florida, the case is now being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is reviewing reports of fraudulent forms in a dozen counties.

It's not clear if PinPoint had worked in Florida. Brian Burgess, spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, told the Buzz in an email that "We did not pay PinPoint, we contracted directly with SAC." Asked in a follow-up e-mail if PinPoint had worked in Florida, Burgess referred the question to Strategic Allied Consulting.


"My understanding of PinPoint... is that it is a payroll/staffing company, not a voter registration company. At no time did RPOF pay PinPoint to register voters in Florida. We paid Strategic directly. As for your questions about employees in Palm Beach and (Lee County), they were Strategic employees.  PinPoint was a payroll/staffing company, and I do not have any information on the roll they played in hiring or providing services to Strategic, if any. If you have specific questions about the relationship between PinPoint and Strategic, you'll need to direct those questions to (SAC owner) Nathan Sproul, because I don't have any knowledge of how that worked."
Burgess said the RPOF ceased all paid voter registration efforts after Strategic Allied Consulting was fired on Sept. 28. 
On Sept. 28 the Los Angeles Times reported that the employee fired in Palm Beach County by Strategic Allied Consulting, William T. Hazard, was a subcontractor working for PinPoint. The Los Angeles Times reported:
"I did nothing wrong," said the former assistant auto parts manager, who lost his post at a Jaguar dealership about a year ago. He said he got the voter registration job after responding to a Craigslist ad placed by a company called PinPoint Staffing seeking people to do "voter surveys." The ad specified that all applicants had to be registered Republicans and active voters.
Although he reported to a PinPoint Staffing office in West Palm Beach, he said, "I thought I was dealing with the Republican Party."
Hazard said he was paid $12 an hour and not compensated for how many forms he turned in, so he said he would have no incentive to forge applications.
He said he was given "zero training." His only instructions were to approach people and ask whom they supported in the presidential election. When people answered with President Obama, he said, he wished them a good day. If someone said Mitt Romney, he asked if they were registered to vote. If not, he handed them forms to fill out, he said.
"I'm expected to register Republicans," said Hazard, who worked for the company from August until about two weeks ago, when he left over a pay dispute.
In Virginia, the state Democratic Party is asking the state to investigate if the Small arrest is part of a larger effort to disenfranchise voters. 


"This isn't about partisan politics, it's about integrity in our elections," said Brian Moran, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. "Given their rhetoric about eliminating voter fraud, Republicans should welcome an investigation to prove that these disturbing incidents are isolated and not a central feature of the GOP campaign effort this year."

Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said in a statement that the case was isolated.

"The actions taken by this individual are a direct contradiction of both his training and explicit instructions given to him," the statement said. "The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process." 


CORRECTION: The initial press release had the incorrect age for Small. He is 23.


[Last modified: Friday, October 19, 2012 6:51pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours