A group that had been represented by the top lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign earlier this year is now being investigated by Ohio authorities for fraudulent voter registrations, including the registration of deceased individuals.
Marc Elias, an attorney at Perkins Coie who has become the go-to fixer for Democrats and is now general counsel for Clinton’s presidential campaign, became involved with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative this May when he filed a lawsuit on its behalf to challenge the state’s voter identification laws.
Now the group is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal investigation after a local board of elections alleged that 25 to 30 of the voter-registration applications that the group submitted appeared to be fraudulent.
Dave Johnson, vice-chairman of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, said that the board contacted the sheriff’s office once they began noticing frequent problems with the registrations submitted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.
"They have turned in roughly 530 voter registrations, of which five of them were dead people," said Johnson. "They actually had the dead people’s drivers license numbers and Social Security numbers, and of course they forged the signatures of these dead people."
Adam Booth, the county’s elections chairman, said that a pattern of fraud quickly became evident when processing the forms submitted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.
"The forms were riddled with errors and all tied to this group," said Booth. "You can tell the same person filled out some of the same forms and forged signatures. There are wrong dates of births and wrong addresses on others. It became a pattern."
Jon Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state, put out a formal advisory on Wednesday to elections boards across the state ordering them "to carefully analyze" any new voter registrations submitted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.
"Anytime we receive reports that invalid and fraudulent voter registrations are being submitted we take it seriously and will work to ensure those individuals or groups responsible are held accountable," said Husted.
The collaborative group is focusing its efforts on "increasing the number of registered voters among students, blacks, Latinos and seniors" in multiple Ohio counties. It sued the state earlier this year to challenge the length of its early voting period and other voter identification laws, arguing that the laws discriminate against black and Hispanic voters.
That lawsuit was brought forth by Elias, who filed similar suits in other states as part of his push to challenge voter identification laws enacted in recent years by Republican-dominated legislatures. The lawsuits were filed independently of the Clinton campaign, although Elias was already working as its legal counsel.
Elias filed the Ohio lawsuit on behalf of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative against Husted and Mike Dewine, the state’s attorney general, on May 8, but the group is no longer the plaintiff in the case.
Elias submitted a motion in August to remove the Ohio Organizing Collaborative as the plaintiff in the case and replace it with the Ohio Democratic Party and other local party organizations. The court granted his motion on Sept. 2.
A source close to Elias says that he has had not been involved with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative since it was replaced as plaintiff.
According to Booth, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative began submitting registration forms shortly after it was removed from the case. The county board of elections received 234 registrations from the group on Sept. 15 and another 291 registrations on Oct. 5.
Perkins Coie, which has already been paid more than $300,000 by the Clinton campaign for legal services, did not respond to requests for comment on Elias’ current involvement with the group.
"This looks like a front-group for Hillary Clinton that is trying to hijack the election in Ohio by registering dead people and forging signatures," said Johnson, who is also the chairman of the county’s Republican Party.
The Ohio Organizing Collaborative forwarded an email statement to the Washington Free Beacon regarding the current investigation into the group, stating it has fired a canvasser and has turned over all requested documents to the local sheriff’s office.
"Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that a number of voter registration cards filed in Columbiana County appear to have been fabricated. The canvasser suspected of fabricating these cards is no longer employed [by the group] and her supervisor has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation," the statement reads.
"We are conducting a thorough internal investigation into the incident and working closely with the Columbiana County Sheriff’s office and the Board of Elections to fully support their investigation," it continues. "In fewer than 24 hours, we have provided every piece of documentation requested by the Sheriff’s office."
Christian Adams, an attorney who leads the Public Interest Legal Foundation and is helping states fight the Soros-backed lawsuits, said that voter fraud in Ohio is the reason laws were implemented in the first place.
"Voter registration fraud has infected the last two presidential elections in Ohio—all of it to help Obama," Adams said. "It’s exactly why the state legislature enacted election integrity reforms and seemingly why Democrats are fighting so hard against them."