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. KC

    I knew this would come up sooner than later, does anyone remember what the Bush campaing did with the military overseas voters? If you wanted Bush to win I bet you don't!

    September 16, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. Credit Card Republicans

    Just wait,you aint seen nothin yet,these folks have in more dirty tricks to come.

    September 16, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. michele

    i wanted to know who the mental ill to vote republian again. can you see what they have then to this counrty. mcain has been in the senate for 26 years and he was the cause of the crisis in this counrty for voting with bush 90 percent of the time. go to the huffington post and see how many times mcain has flip flop. he is the biggest flip flopper. do your really think mcain will help this counrty think again.

    September 16, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. katrina

    it'll come down to he said/she said, I expect. If there were emails, they're deleted, if there were memos, they're shredded. And it is, of course, remotely possible that this particular Republican was planning on running a clean election. Though it's hard to believe that a journalist of the caliber of Eartha Melzer would make up a quote like that.

    September 16, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  5. Nina-Florida

    This should not be taken lightly. Now if one state thinks that this will work in favor of the the GOP then you best believe that the GOP in the other 49 states will think the same way and try and follow suit. LISTEN UP DNC. We need to have POLL WORKERS at every polling station. It's very important that we volunteer to work the polling stations. I've already signed up'ed and I am trying to get as many of my friends and family members to do the same. The GOP has proven themself to be lower than low and will stop at nothing to get McSame into office. PLEASE volunteer in your local area. NOT THIS TIME, NO WAY NO HOW, NO MCCAIN/PALIN.!

    September 16, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Cindy from NC

    IS anyone surprised. They hijacked the Presidency in 2000 and know they can't win in 2008, so they are using these tatics.

    But as always Obama will come out on top. He does't play this tricks.

    September 16, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. ofrar

    those who voted George Bush in 2000 and 2004 have contributed to the present economic woes in the country. If you think you hurting Obama by voting for McCain , good luck.
    Al Gore lost 2000 but he is now a Nobel Prize Winner.. Presidency is not the peak of accomplishment in a man's life. Some presidents will be forgotten immediately they leave office. Some people who do have never had any political position will be well remembered and long remembered.. Example Dr. Martin Luther King.
    Vote because a candidate will protect your interest . Dont vote because of age , gender , race or religious affiliation.. McCain nominated Paulin to pander white women and evangelical vote. IT so unfortunate

    September 16, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. Lynne

    The GOP is no different from Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

    September 16, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. Rudy

    The Republicanswill stop at nothing. I hope the people of Michigan realize that many people are suffering. It will be interesting to see if voters stick with what got them there or will they step out in a new direction.

    September 16, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  10. Zaley

    The Republicans are just SLIME!

    September 16, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  11. Susan

    And they'll all be thumping the Bible come Sunday morning!

    September 16, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  12. CarolAnn

    The minute I saw McCain/Palin's television sex education advertisement was the minute I pulled away from the Republican ticket. It was absolute filth! Now this? I'll NEVER vote Republican again!!!

    September 16, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  13. Troy

    The Republicans act like slime-ball crooks.

    September 16, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. leah b j

    All of this does need to get exposed. What about the millions of false absentee ballots the McCaign campaign sent out to Democrats in swing states? This is just wrong, I read that it could be a felony.
    So how can the McCain campaign get away with this.
    Please everyone do a search for this. Look up "voter caging" Michigan Ohio. When they were called on it recently, the McCain campaign said it was a mistake. I highly doubt it-do you know how expensive it is to print out a million fliers or more with fake absentee ballots? How it works is that the person sends the ballot in thinking it is real, and then their vote does not count! Can you believe that?
    Do you want a President that would resort to such illegal tactics. It is true. Don't lie to yourself.

    September 16, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Hey McCain – Where's the reform in sleezy ads, voter suppression and outright lying?

    I am not "your friend" either, so quit saying "my friends" when you lie to us!

    September 16, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |

    This is unimaginable, beyond dirty, beyond politics, I hope they go to jail for this! They are trying to take away people's rights for personal gain, this is outrageous!

    September 16, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  17. KofTX

    It's about time the Democrats acted BEFORE the election scamming instead of AFTER when nothing can be done about it.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 16, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  18. fluke

    The McCain campaign is in panic, they know they are doomed.

    Americans won't reward reuplicans for their bankrupt idees for the last 8 years.

    With lies and all kinds of gimmicks they hope to trick amricans again.

    No chance McSame und Palin the whole world already broadcasts
    around what kind of goofs you 2 are. haha

    Obama / Bidern 08

    September 16, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  19. Sean Chong

    In all honestly, I think we should call out for help from some other countries to sent in independent observers for our own election... what ashame!

    September 16, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  20. Karl Rove

    Hey McCain, where's the "reform" in your sleezy ads, your voter suppression tactics (caging and push polling), and your outright lies?!

    P.S. Don't say "my friends" to me anymore. I did vote for you in 2000 when you were "maverick". You changed and not for the better!

    September 16, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |


    September 16, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  22. aware

    Desperate democrats dig deep but they will lose!

    They put all their money on the wrong horse, Obama, and Governor Sarah Palin is helping Senator John McCain win the race! 🙂

    McCain/Palin 08! They will deliver the reforms Americans can believe in! 🙂

    September 16, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. Tom in Delaware

    This is as lame as it gets coming from the nasty, dirty, scheming Chicago politician named Barck Obama.

    You're the real PIG...why don't you help murder another least that's one piece of legislation you didn't vote 'present' on.

    You're lucky Roe vs. Wade wasn't in effect in 1960, otherwise you would have never been born.

    Oh well...the world's an imperfect place.

    September 16, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  24. Tina

    You all are a bunch of pathetic lemings. God, can't anybody READ ANYMORE!!!!! If you look at the story, it is a COMPLETE fabrication made by a left wing blog.. that is the entire aspect of this media. Have a blog make up a story, then the main stream media picks up on it, and pretty soon your lame ole story is a major headline news about a lame old blog that is making waves.

    Don't you fools realize that anyone can blog about anything, and that doesn't' make it true. The entire story is a "quote" not backed up by any witnesses, facts, or proof !!!! Of course ya all just jump all over it like the dim-wittings you are.

    This really is just the Dems laying the groundwork trying to already establish lawsuits in Michigan so that when Obama looses, they will be the new Florida. And of course all of your responses will be submitted as "evidence". Grow up people, open your eyes and use your brain for what God intended it to be.

    September 16, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  25. Diamond Lou

    Another manufactured lie from the Dems... an all blogging newspaper that's funded by Souros is supposed to be impartial... give me a break. They stand by their story, but have no audio of this supposed conversation... we're supposed to rely on her "notes" as the smoking gun.

    Just like Florida... just count the people who vote your way... skrew the rest.

    September 16, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
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