September 16th, 2008
06:17 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama campaign files suit over voter 'caging' allegations

(CNN) - Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee went to court on Tuesday to block what they said were efforts by Republicans in the battleground state of Michigan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters at the polls in November.

The Michigan Republican party has threatened its own legal action over the matter, accusing a liberal blog of fabricating the quote from a party official that prompted the Democratic suit.

The Michigan Messenger, a liberal blog, reported that Macomb County Republican chairman James Carabelli had told a contributor to their site that the party had a list of homes in foreclosure and would “make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses” – a comment he denies ever making.

The blog and its sponsor, the nonprofit Center for Independent Media, are standing by the story.

Obama general counsel Bob Bauer told reporters Tuesday that the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and three Michigan residents whose homes were in foreclosure had filed suit in federal court in the state, charging that the alleged comment, and other similar remarks by Republican officials in other states, indicated the GOP planned to practice a form of “voter caging” to prevent legal voters from casting ballots.

“It is an absolute attack on their right to vote,” said Bauer. “…This is a standard operating procedure within the Republican party that’s been under legal challenge.” He added that the suit would give them the ability to subpoena memos and e-mails to prove the allegation.

Caging is the practice of sending mass mailings marked with “do not forward” instructions to a list of addresses, and using any returned letters as the basis for challenging a voter who claims that address as their legal residence. Michigan law allows individuals who have lost their homes within two months of Election Day to cast a ballot in their old precinct.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California raised the same concern Wednesday at a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller – who said he would alert the Justice Department, but was not aware of any threats to block voter access.

Carabelli, the Republican official credited with the original comment, said the story was fabricated and had “irrevocably harmed” his reputation.

“It’s not true, and I want a full and complete retraction of the quote, and I am taking legal action to get it,” he said in a statement released by the Michigan Republican Party Tuesday. “Let me state, again and unequivocally, there is no such plan to use foreclosure lists to challenger voters, and I never said there was. This is a story line being pushed by one liberal blog, the Obama campaign, and their friends and operatives on the Left.”

A spokesman for the state party told CNN late Tuesday that they planned to send the Web site that published the story a cease and desist letter Wednesday morning. If the story was not retracted immediately, he said, the party was already planning a lawsuit against “anyone who’s perpetuated this fabricated story” with a list of defendants “as broad as possible” – including the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Filed under: Michigan
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. MK

    I say we bring in the United Nations election monitors for the upcoming election – especially in Michigan, Ohio, and Florida 😉

    September 16, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  2. Donna were going to vote Republican anyway...admit it and move on...stop the dramatics based on lies!!

    Obama won the primaries by playing by the rules of the DNC...get over it...

    Nothing surprises me with the Repugnant Party...

    September 16, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  3. MD for Obama

    Not surprised!

    September 16, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. Carl from MI

    Good thing Republicans are the Party of FAMILY VALUES.... because you'd never know it from the slimy things they do!!!!


    September 16, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. America think for you

    Think twice Palin want to attack Russia and Pakistan and give Georgia UN memberships. That was third world war just start by the republicans.
    I am a Democrat and I am voting for McCain. Oh no! Why are you betraying Barack? You know why! Because John McCain had invented the Black Barry. I love my blackberry. McCain know Washington for 30 years, Barack is new to Washington. McCain is smart and does not understand the economy and I am thrill to vote for McCain. McCain is rich and Barack is not. McCain has many houses and Barack does not. If I Americans get evicted from their homes they can get a room each from McCain. McCain is the real deal that will shake up Washington and himself because he is an insider. Sarah Palin is a foreign policy expert because she can see Russia from Alaska Joe Biden cannot see Russia from Delaware. This is why I am not voting for McCain.

    September 16, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  6. arrowrod

    Yeah. If it's on the internet it must be true. I'm voting against Obama, but I hope he wins.

    I am retired comfortably. But for amusement in my old age, I want to see all of the smug young citizens of this country who have no "high salary" skills, standing in the Obama bread lines.

    Tax the rich, well that would be me, create new government bureaucracies, double the salaries of the newly hired bureaucrats, and do what bureaucrats do.... nothing.

    September 16, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Penn Voter

    Yes this is unreal.

    Unreal because it nothing more than a fabricated lie by a liberal blog.

    September 16, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  8. S. Boatman

    The Republicans Will Do Anything To Stay In Power! Lie Cheat Steal Anything! We Must Vote For Obama By A Large Margin Or They Will Steal This Election!

    September 16, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Jean

    Obama's dirty Chicago style politics should definitely be watched. He's learned how to get people kicked off the ballot and how to find dead people to vote for him.

    Definitely an election result to be watched VERY closely.

    September 16, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |

    to all boggers im a black woman and im 51 yrs old, ive voted since i was 18 i and all americans have always voted for someone that was white i never cried foul, i was"nt always for sen obama until i heard him on the issues and it hit my wallet, ive listened to both canidates obama won my vote because he was the most capable to me to get us out of this mess. if you dont vote for him because he is black it"s your lost and you will feel it nov5. obama biden08.

    September 16, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. bissy( a nigerian residing in uk)

    So much for the standard bearer of modern democracy

    September 16, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  12. Tayo, NY

    I can belief this. You mean McCain and RNC want to prevent common polple that are currently in crisis not to vote?

    September 16, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  13. Paul S



    September 16, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Ryan

    Wow, the McCain Campaign has sunk to a new low...

    September 16, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  15. Ronda

    When lying continuously doesn't work, stop people from voting all together.

    Way to go republicans! You show your dishonor everyday!

    September 16, 2008 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  16. hmmmm?

    This sounds like something out of the ACORN organizer playbook.

    September 16, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  17. Bill Marcus

    MK we don't need to. We are above international law just ask Bush!

    September 16, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. Freedom Loving Patriot (God fearing too!)

    Good Lord! The Republicans cheat?


    September 16, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. Jay

    Lynn:60 yr old Obama supporter – – ,,,and liberty, democracy, constitution, etc. is lost.

    September 16, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  20. diane08

    The difference is that what Obama did in Chicago was LEGAL. This is NOT. And as far as Michigan and Florida go, the only reason Obama was able to get their delegates was because THEY broke the rules by moving up their primaries. Let's put the blame where it really belongs.

    September 16, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |


    September 16, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  22. Ron

    voter registration, sounds familiar. Chicago like politics and they want you to believe McCain thought this up. give us a break people see right through Obama that's why he is falling behind

    September 16, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  23. Thieves

    What kind of scum steals people's votes?

    Republican scum.

    September 16, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |

    Next you morons will be claiming he is the father of Bristol's little "blessing"!

    September 16, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  25. catfish

    I hope this is not a deciding state because we might loose again like in 2000 and 2004. If he has a cousin or uncle in public office that we don't know about or BROTHER lets keep our fingers crossed.

    September 16, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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