Weekend Open Thread: A Rerun to Stop a Rerun (of GOP’s “Ballot Harvesting” Scam)

His life is ruined — but he dare not blame the culprits!

[NOTE: This story was originally posted on Jan. 29, 2021, but I’m reposting it now because I have a sneaking suspicion that it has fallen into the memory hole and — with Shawn Steel’s wife running for office yet again — there’s a fair likelihood that Republicans will try this same scam again. Someone needs to contact our new (and I hope more attentive) Secretary of State Shirley Weber about it — because this practice needs to be enjoined.

It’s also important because the clamor Republicans nationwide are making about “ballot harvesting” has only gotten louder over the past year. Said clamor refuses to distinguish between legitimate ballot harvesting — in which one single identifiable person (usually but not necessarily a family member) can be held responsible if a ballot is tampered with or does not make it to the Secretary of State’s office — and one in which, by using an unstaffed dropbox, nobody can be held responsible if someone’s right to vote gets taken away because the people in charge of a dropbox chose not to turn it in on time.

Let’s keep this story in mind BEFORE the election, while there’s still time to do something about it, not just afterwards!

Sometimes a story comes along that really makes one sad — because the person complaining about their lot shows no sign of recognizing the problem with what they did and is dead set against blaming the actually responsible parties or even showing minimal contrition.  This is one such story.

If you don’t subscribe to the Register, pay what you must — and I said “pay,” not “finagle” (despite knowing that you might) — for the ability to read this story of a poor sad (but not particularly remorseful) Republican campaign operative whose life has been “ruined,” His face was publicized as a sort of a Poster Boy for election fraud as a result of his attempt to lure people into using a falsely labeled “Official Dropbox” in Little Saigon that would be controlled by someone in the party rather than by impartial and trained election officials.

We shall call him the “Poor Lad.”

We’ve covered this story here, if you want to remind yourself of the particulars.  It’s an absolute cluster-frappé, in which the temerity of the action, the potential scope of the consequences, and the soup-for-brains justification of its legality are matched only by the cluelessness and gormlessness of the piteous “victim” of people’s meanness.

I’m going to go through the story pretty much line by line — without naming or providing the hometown of the sensitive lad (though the Register does both) for fear of amplifying his shame.  (Well, not all of his shame; we are going to explain why he’s a dolt.)  We’ll emphasize the material that you need to know to not feel sorry about him unless he wakes up and smells the liability.

  1. The Poor Lad says that his life has been upended by political controversy.  Well, yeah — did he have anything to do with it?
  2. He insists that he was just “following orders.” [NOTE: this will become important in discussion below!]
  3. Poor Lad was working for the state GOP to support Michelle Steel’s campaign in the 48th District.
  4. He tweeted a photo of himself kneeling in front of a metal container falsely labeled as an “Official Ballot Drop Off Box,” which was in fact neither official, nor legal, nor monitored to make sure that its contents were conveyed safely to the Registrar of Voters.
  5. He told voters to DM him to find out where the Box was.
  6. International media pounced on the story with the force of a thousand Trumps — illustrating it with his half-masked face.
  7. He says that the State GOP didn’t admit that it owned the boxes until the next day, leaving him “twisting in the wind” (look it up) as the public face of the scam.
  8. He asserts the he “took that initial heat,” causing damage to himself and his reputation.
  9. The CA GOP says that the boxes were permitted under ballot harvesting laws — which they weren’t, and they can fight me over that — and even if they had been they did not meet the security standards required for such boxes.
  10. The GOP got away with it, with no further investigation, so far as Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office is concerned, because:
    1. the state GOP promised stop using drop boxes that were fraudulently labeled, lacked security, and didn’t follow the proper protocol of designating a specific person to deliver one’s ballot
    2. Becerra’s office believes that no ballots dropped into the boxes failed to reach the Registrar to be counted, which he could not possibly know to be true and I hope I don’t have to explain why
    3. As a California Democratic official, Becerra:
      1. values “unity” over “accountability”
      2. doesn’t want to provoke Republicans to get nasty about Democratic accountability
      3. is weak
      4. perhaps doesn’t want to stir up opposition to his appointment to become Health and Human Services Secretary in the Biden Administration
      5. perhaps doesn’t want want the discovery of  actual Republican election fraud to give credence to completely fabricated and loony assertions of Democratic election fraud, because huminma hummina hummina
      6. and: is WEAK!  Yes, I’m saying it twice!
      7. (Note that the Register article doesn’t mention any of these points under “3”, because … ???)
  11. The GOP thanked Becerra by spitting in his face and poking him in the eye with a sharp stick, agreeing to stop labeling heinously fake boxes as ““official” after unknown amounts of damage had already been done.  For example: we don’t know if they matched the names on the outer envelopes against a party registration list and then just “misplaced” the Democratic ones, or whether they had already completed whatever ballot stuffing they may have wanted to do in the first day or so, before making the “concession” to take down the illegal fraudulent labels
  12. Becerra still had one eye left unpoked, so the GOP made no other concessions and attacked Becerra’s investigation, accusing his office of “creating a media circus” (which, uh, the GOP itself had some role in doing!) over a practice that they said” the courts deemed legal” — which is absolutely untrue!
    1. And Becerra who (wait a minute, let me check) — yep, IS STILL WEAK) did NOT go to court to establish that this is NOT NOT NOT what the law allowing people who designate a known person to deliver their ballot means; therefore making it inevitable that THE GOP IS GOING TO DO THIS SAME THING AGAIN!  AND AGAIN!!
  13. Poor Lad didn’t comment about his actions as the scandal unfolded because staffers are supposed to direct media requests to the state party.  (Yes …  but parties ALSO are not support to direct state staffers to do illegal acts!)
  14. Poor Lad is commenting now only because his contract has ended.  (I’ll bet that they made him sign an NDA, too — but if so good for him for ignoring it)
  15. Poor Lad denied having originated the plan to use falsely labeled Drop Boxes, and denied constructing the sign for the one that magically arrived in the OC GOP HQ
  16. Poor Lad believed that his sole role was to promote the Fake Drop Box’s use, though, so before tweeting the photo with him posing with his little metal friend, he sought and received permission from his supervisor to to do so
  17. Poor Lad never questioned the legality or ethics of his actions, because he’s been assured that the whole scheme had been vetted by the state Republican Party’s attorneys
  18. Poor Lad didn’t question the skeevy process because he didn’t think that his rank entitled him to do so
  19. Poor Lad admits that this was probably a mistake, but defends himself thusly: “Nevertheless, I was following protocol”
  20. After Poor Lad’s tweet went viral, he was plagued with investigators showing up, media hounding him, and critics harassing his mother and wishing calamity upon him
  21. Poor Lad considered quitting his job, but didn’t want his critics to “win”
  22. Despite his USC M.A. in liberal studies and history with the Coast Guard, he can’t find a job
  23. But the Republican Party staffers who cooked up the scheme still have their jobs!
  24. Yet … Poor Lad declined to identify them!
  25. And Poor Lad refused to say how many fake drop boxes were distributed (presumably meaning “in OC only”)
  26. State Republicans asserted that the boxes were part of their confidential campaign strategy, and so rebuffed requests for similar information from the Attorney General and Secretary of State
  27. Poor Lad saw Democratic criticism and media coverage attacking the use of falsely labeled “official” boxes as “a way to win some cheap political points”
  28. Poor Lad denies that Republicans were trying to trick voters with the boxes, but just hoped to boost Republican voter turnout
  29. Turnout was at issue because the then-President was discouraging mail-in voting on the grounds that ballots might be a discarded or otherwise uncounted
  30. Poor Lad said that Republicans believed that “ballot harvesting” — again, designating a single responsible person to deliver one’s ballot — had aided Democratic success in 2018 and that the GOP had to engage in it (using a system that didn’t involve designating a single response person to deliver ballots) to keep up with them.
  31. Poor Lad hopes the controversy generates more debate over ballot harvesting and ballot security, while Democrats reject making it harder to vote
  32. Poor Lad, who had previously worked on campaigns for Dana Rohrabacher and Mitt Romney, “remains passionate about politics” hopes to land more such gigs despite feeling “scarred” by the controversy.
  33. The State GOP says that it appreciates his work and ranks him among its most desired future hires.
  34. The State AG’s office refuses to discuss whether and when it might proceed with investigation and prosecution of the fake drop box incident or the fake polling place incident at the campaign headquarters of Kimberly Ho — and you’ll have to go to the end of the Register’s story to see how they hilariously caught Ho’s lawyer “dissembling” over whether some Democratic operative might have put a “VOTE HERE” sign at her non-polling-place HQ
  35. DA Spitzer is still investigating at least the Ho case, and can presumably pursue the Box case as well


  • Poor Lad wants our sympathy because he did something that made him look foolish and corrupt and it led people to call him foolish and corrupt — because it was
  • His employer, the State Republican Party, hung him out to dry — allowing the public to think that this was his own caper — while they figured out what to do
  • He doesn’t think that he did anything wrong, because the lawyers said that it was OK and he was just keeping quiet and following orders
  • He still wants work for the GOP in a similar capacity — and the GOP says that it really really likes him, and that  must be true because dangling a possible future job before him couldn’t just be a way that they can keep him from identifying who lied to him and used him to commit fraud

Well, what do you think, readers?  I think that he’s a fool being fooled into expressing loyalty to people who have no loyalty to him — and were in fact fully the cause of his injured reputation.  I don’t intend this, and it should not be taken, as legal advice — but the police procedurals I’ve seen seem to suggest that someone who has been made a patsy and suffered for it is best off getting leniency by identifying the people who screwed him over so heartlessly so they can experience justice, and one would think that scriptwriters would know their business!

Should he sue the GOP operatives who set him up for ignominy?  That’s not the sort of question that I answer for free!  (But I can give him a referral….)

Anyway, this is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about that, or anything else you’d like to, within reasonable bounds of decency, discretion, and decorum.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)