Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

Pro-Obama campaign, Pasco elections chief spar over voting information

The campaign supporting President Barack Obama's re-election says Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley has unfairly sullied the group's voter registration efforts.

Corley stands by two news releases he issued this week about Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic Party, and said the campaign is trying to twist his words.

Pasco's top elections official had reported a complaint from a voter who said an OFA volunteer initially claimed he worked for the elections office. Then, Corley on Tuesday said his office took "hundreds" of calls from voters who said a campaign robocall told them early voting is under way.

Campaign spokesman Eric Jotkoff said there is no merit to either claim and said Corley's accusations "ring hollow."

Corley replied: "They're playing political games, and I resent the fact that they're trying to twist this."

The saga began Monday, when Corley released an email from one of his staffers describing a visit on Saturday from a campaign worker to a voter. According to the email, the man "indicated he was from our office. Later, after she pressed him on it, he told her he was with the Obama campaign." The email also said the man showed the voter a list with an 'x' by her name, indicating she had been purged from the voter rolls. He suggested she contact Corley's office to clear up the confusion.

"The person was very articulate that this individual said he was with the elections office," Corley said.

Here's how Jotkoff described the incident: The man was checking to make sure voters were registered at their current address and that their registrations were up to date. He suggested the voter go to Corley's website to check her status. The "voter purge" topic arose when she asked him if she was part of Gov. Rick Scott's effort to remove noncitizen voters. Jotkoff said the campaign worker never claimed he was an elections official.

"You have several layers of the game of telephone," Jotkoff said. "Stuff has gotten misconstrued."

A recorded phone call is at the heart of Corley's second complaint. The call begins with an Organizing for America staffer saying, "You don't have to wait to vote. Here in Pasco, you can make your voice heard and vote now at your county Supervisor of Elections office." The call gives the address and hours for the closest elections office and then says: "Just show up and request a ballot. You can fill it out and return it during the same visit."

Jotkoff said OFA staffers worked with Corley's office several weeks ago to verify such a program is in place. Corley on Wednesday confirmed the program, calling it a "carry-out absentee ballot." It is in place now.

An email from early September from a campaign staffer to Corley asked if a voter can "walk in, request an absentee ballot, and vote all in one step?" Corley replied: "If voter asks, we give them one. We aim to please."

The call never mentions "early voting," but Corley said some voters were left with the impression that early voting has begun. It doesn't start until Oct. 27. "Why did every single voter come in and say 'I'm here for early voting' or 'here to vote early'?" he said. "Either the message got muddied or it's not being received by the recipients to understand fully what to ask for."

Corley said if a voter asks about an absentee ballot, his staff will schedule a ballot to be mailed to the voter's home. His employees will print out a ballot on the spot if a voter specifically requests that. "There's a certain trigger where we will do that," he said.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18