Evidently, no matter how deceitful and unscrupulous these out-of-state, buck-a-signature petition circulators are in perpetrating fraud, any unsuspecting Massachusetts citizen that falls for their tricks "has the IQ of an eggplant."
That's what Chip Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxation said, anyway, as he sat on a panel with Kris Mineau of the The Massachusetts Family Institute at the Joint Committee on Election Laws hearing on Tuesday.
This he exclaimed while only a few eggplants away stood an 18 year old Northeastern freshman who had just finished describing how her first experience as a registered voter had been to be bait-and-switched into signing the anti-gay marriage petition. She was on a panel with eight other bait-and-switch victims.
Rep. Philip Travis, one of the 30 original signers and the only legislator to speak as a witness, stated that he ALWAYS reads everything before HE signs a document. When asked by the committee what he had to say to the Northeastern freshman, he responded, "Once bitten, twice shy, so I guess she has been bitten."
Kris Mineau, spokesman for the petition sponsors, claimed that the fraud allegations were nothing more than the result of a conspiracy by "ho-mo-sexual activists" and admitted that his organization has made no effort to check into the allegations of fraud by monitoring what is going on in the field. You see, according to Kris, his organization just doesn't have the resources -- despite being backed by the $130 million dollar Focus on the Family organization and $20 million dollar Alliance Defense Fund.
When asked by Senator Augustus how much Arno Political Consultants, the California signature collection company hired by petition sponsors, was being paid, Mineau refused to give a dollar amount. Pressed by Senator Augustus that his refusal was inconsistent with earlier statements that the initiative system belongs to the people, Mineau still refused to answer directly, saying only that the firm had been contracted "at fair-market value." Mineau also claimed to have no idea of the ratio of volunteer to paid signature collectors.
Arno Political Consultants owner, Michael Arno, also testified claiming no culpability for the widespread fraud reports. He also tried to discredit the characters of former petition worker Angela McElroy and fraud specialist Jeannie Berg who had been flown in from Oregon to give expert testimony.
McElroy gave a detailed account of how easy it is to commit petition fraud in Massachusetts and even gave a live demonstration of the bait-and-switch process that had been taught to her by her employers and that she used personally to steal signatures from several hundred voters.
Jeannie Berg's testimony confirmed what had been said by McElroy, and then some, as she provided a litany of shortcomings in our State's initiative petition system.
The witnesses and victims who took time out of their busy lives to go to the State House and explain how they had been deceived into signing the anti-gay marriage petition felt they had an obligation to report on how their rights had been violated. KnowThyNeighbor.org thanks each one of them for standing up and speaking out -- our Democracy depends on people like you.
However, Kris Mineau and his allies used this very important forum to once again divert attention from the real issue: the widespread fraud allegations and their current and prior knowledge of the underhanded techniques used by Arno Political Consultants and its subcontractors. Instead, they chose to attack KnowThyNeighbor.org, the Gay Lobby, MassEquality, the Joint Committee on Elections and even the good people who presented testimony of how their signatures had been stolen from them.
KnowThyNeighbor.org applauds Senator Augustus and Representative Petruccelli, Joint Chairs of the Elections Committee, for addressing this very serious issue and we look forward to initiative petition reform measures to be proposed in the immediate future.
Tom Lang & Aaron Toleos, Directors
Contact: (978) 335-0477, [email protected]