For a year, the Republican National Committee has portrayed Democrats as the villains when it comes to voter fraud. In a provocative article on CNN’s Web site, the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, said, “Democrats know they benefit from election fraud.” The tables have turned, however, and Republicans are now playing defense over the role of a well-paid operative, Nathan Sproul, in a voter registration scandal that emerged in Florida and has spread to other states. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was reviewing “numerous” claims involving a company that Mr. Sproul runs to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted. Complaints have surfaced in 10 Florida counties, among them allegations that registrations had similar signatures or false addresses, or were filed under the names of dead people. In other cases, party affiliations appeared to have been changed.
In recent days, similar claims against Mr. Sproul have arisen in Nevada and Colorado. Mr. Sproul, 40, a former executive director of the Arizona Christian Coalition and the Republican Party in Arizona, is well known in political circles there. Since 2004, Mr. Sproul’s companies — he has operated under several corporate names — have collected more than $17.6 million from Republican committees, candidates and the “super PAC” American Crossroads, mostly for voter registration operations, according to campaign finance records.
The Republican Party, which paid Mr. Sproul about $3 million this year for work in five states, has severed its ties with him, saying it has no tolerance for voter registration fraud. But questions about Mr. Sproul’s methods first emerged in 2004, when one of his companies, Sproul & Associates, was paid nearly $8 million during the election cycle. The payouts made the company the seventh-biggest recipient of campaign expenditures by the committee, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.