Why is it that when legitimate examples of election fraud come to light, they always seem to come from one party?
The Republican National Committee has fired a controversial consulting firm it was paying millions of dollars to conduct voter registration in five battleground states, NBC News has learned.
The move came after the Palm Beach County, Fla., elections supervisor discovered 108 potentially fraudulent registration forms submitted by the GOP consulting firm, including suspected phony signatures and home addresses that matched those of a gas station, a medical building and a Land Rover dealership.
NBC News has learned that two other Florida counties, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa, have also reported possible fraudulent registration forms submitted by the firm, including apparent dead people being registered as new voters.
As NBC News' Michael Isikoff reported, at issue is a firm called Strategic Allied Consulting, but by long-time consultant Nathan Sproul, which had been hired by the Republican National Committee's Sean Spicer to register voters in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia -- five key battleground states in 2012.
So far in 2012, the RNC has paid Strategic Allied Consulting $2.9 million for its services to the national party, as well as state affiliates. The relationship, however, has been severed in light of the firm's alleged crimes.
So, to review the larger context, the Republican National Committee was apoplectic in accusing groups like ACORN of overseeing fraudulent voter-registration efforts, and at the same time, the Republican National Committee paid millions to a Republican firm that's accused of overseeing fraudulent voter-registration efforts.
A Republican elections supervisor in the Florida panhandle said, "It's kind of ironic that the dead people they accused ACORN of registering are now being done by the [Republican Party of Florida]."
Yes, actually, it is kind of ironic.
But wait, it gets worse.
Nathan Sproul, who was also hired by the Romney campaign to help with "field consulting," is not new to controversy. On the contrary, Sproul had already been accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states, long before the 2012 cycle.
According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of "registering voters." The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket.
In a letter to the Justice Department last October, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said that that Sproul's alleged activities "clearly suppress votes and violate the law."
That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign -- the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle -- is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain's campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing.
Rep. Chris Cannon, a Utah Republican, once said, "The difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn't throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out."
Despite this history, the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign signed Sproul firms to lucrative contracts.
Yesterday, the RNC's Sean Spicer boasted, "We acted swiftly and boldly" after learning of the alleged improprieties. But before Spicer strains himself patting his back, perhaps he can explain why Republicans partnered with Sproul's firms in the first place despite his controversial past?