CA Elections: Whitman’s Spotty Voting Record: Not Exactly as it Seemed?

Much has been made about Meg Whitman’s spotty voting record by many, including me. When the Sacramento Bee’s Andrew McIntosh first reported that records for Whitman’s voter registration going back a decade or so were nearly non-existent it seemed that the anti-Whitman camp(s) out there had quite an issue to hang their hats upon. It sure made me wary of her campaign, to be sure.

After all, wouldn’t it say something interesting if this purportedly life-long Republican candidate had little history of even voting at all — much less for other Republicans — until recently? Whether its a fair question or not, it does make one wary of such a candidate. How could the voters be asked to vote for someone that herself hasn’t seemed too interested in voting?

Of course, this whole question is only legitimate if the newspaper that broke the story had all its facts straight. Now, it is starting to look like the Bee’s story is not as cut and dried as it was presented.

Today, California radio talker Hugh Hewitt tried to get Bee editor Amy Chance to answer a few questions about the paper’s article. The results are telling. (Hewitt has the audio on his website.)

Hewitt said that one of the things that raised a “red flag” about the Bee’s report on Whitman’s voting record was how lightly sourced it was. One oddity from the Bee account is that the report states that the San Francisco County elections office no longer retains voting records prior to 1992, but the Bee takes as gospel that some unknown and unidentified source in that office claimed that if Whitman had been registered then a record of that registration would have been noted in the new system. But, there are no records as they’ve been destroyed and there is no way to confirm anything. So, how can the Bee just assume that this record didn’t fall through a hole in the updated system? Truth is, it cannot.

The Bee also reported that when Whitman lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, “Neither Ohio state elections officials nor Hamilton County Board of Elections officials found a record of Whitman registering or voting there.” Whitman’s campaign, however, disputes this and claims it has a letter from the County stating the opposite.

The Sacramento Bee wrote that Meg was not registered to vote in Ohio. Yet, we have a letter from the Hamilton County Board of Elections confirming that she was registered to vote there from 1980 to 1982.

The Whitman campaign addressed these controversies with a letter to the Sacramento Bee protesting the Bee’s slipshod journalism. That letter points out something else that is quite interesting.

In an attempt to confirm our findings, we then asked the registrar to provide voting information for several prominent San Franciscans, including Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi. (Dianne Feinstein was Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988. Nancy Pelosi has lived in San Francisco since 1969 and was elected to Congress in 1987.) The registrar’s office came back in writing with the same result. There are no records in any system of Dianne Feinstein or Nancy Pelosi voting in San Francisco prior to 1992.

The problem we have here is that the Bee presented its inability to find Whitman’s voting records prior to 1992 as damning evidence that she was not registered and did not vote, despite that Whitman has claimed she did vote during that era.

But if no one can prove through definitive official records that anyone, even other prominent Californians, voted or how they voted during that same time period, how is it germane to focus on Whitman’s lack of records here? The truth is, the Bee has made a leap of logic that damns Whitman unjustly.

Whitman herself has admitted that politics didn’t interest her a whole lot until she got the bug to work for Mitt Romney’s campaign, thence to McCain’s and ultimately to her run for the big seat in Sacramento. But she has always maintained that she’s been a life-long Republican. The Bee’s story put quite a dent in that claim. But now there is an awful lot of reason to doubt the veracity of the Bee’s story.

The main question now is, has the damage to Whitman’s campaign been done? We have many months ahead to find that out.

The text of Whitman’s letter to the Sacramento Bee follows.

Letter from Meg Whitman Campaign to The Sacramento Bee:

Dear Amy:

Thank you for our conversations in recent days regarding The Sacramento Bee’s September 24th story on Meg’s voting history. As we discussed, the campaign has been in the process of reconciling its information and Meg’s recollections with The Bee’s coverage. So far, we have found a number of disturbing discrepancies that raise serious questions about the quality of The Bee’s reporting and the integrity of your newspaper.

For starters, The Bee reported that while Meg lived in San Francisco from 1981 to 1989, she was not registered to vote and did not vote. The problem we have with this is that Meg clearly remembers voting on multiple occasions, including the 1984 and 1988 presidential elections.

As Meg prepared to enter the race, our campaign requested her voting records from the San Francisco registrar and was told that no records were available from 1981 to 1989. We have a letter from the registrar confirming that fact.

After your story ran, we went back to the San Francisco registrar and asked them to confirm your assertion that Meg had not registered or voted in San Francisco between 1981 and 1989. They could not. The registrar’s office again confirmed in writing that it no longer has records for voters prior to 1992. Records from that period were never transferred and they simply don’t have them.

In an attempt to confirm our findings, we then asked the registrar to provide voting information for several prominent San Franciscans, including Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi. (Dianne Feinstein was Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988. Nancy Pelosi has lived in San Francisco since 1969 and was elected to Congress in 1987.) The registrar’s office came back in writing with the same result. There are no records in any system of Dianne Feinstein or Nancy Pelosi voting in San Francisco prior to 1992.

Clearly, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein voted in San Francisco during the 1980s, and so did Meg Whitman. Based solely on a mysterious unnamed source at the registrar’s office, The Bee conveniently asserts that Meg never voted in San Francisco. This flies in the face of any information actually available at the San Francisco registrar’s office.

And the list of errors in your September 24th story goes on and on:

The Sacramento Bee wrote that Meg was not registered to vote in Ohio. Yet, we have a letter from the Hamilton County Board of Elections confirming that she was registered to vote there from 1980 to 1982.

The Sacramento Bee wrote that the first voter registration it found for Meg was in San Mateo County in 2002. Yet, through voting archives, we have confirmed Meg’s registration in Santa Clara county beginning in February 8, 1999. The affidavit number for Meg’s registration is 70CE223397.

The Sacramento Bee stated that Steve Poizner had regularly voted in elections. Yet, the next day, after our campaign pointed out your mistake, The Bee acknowledged that Poizner failed to vote in statewide primary elections in 1994 and 1998.

The Sacramento Bee stated that there is no record of Meg voting as a young woman in Suffolk County, New York. Yet, when we contacted the registrar in Suffolk County multiple times, we were told that there was no conclusive evidence either way. They did not confirm or deny the registration or voting history.
Finally, using public records, we have so far been unable to confirm your assertion that Steve Poizner voted regularly during his years in Texas, which is not surprising given the condition of records going back to that period. However, you appear to have given Poizner the benefit of the doubt.

When Meg launched her campaign in February, she openly acknowledged that her voting record was far from perfect. She was open about the facts as she remembered them. And her campaign collected all the documentation available to support her claims.

The number of errors in your story, plus the convenient use of a mysterious unnamed source to contradict the information publicly available at the San Francisco registrar’s office, leaves the impression that your newspaper or its sources set out to deliberately misrepresent Meg’s voting history. While Meg makes no excuses for the votes she missed, the record she does have should be accurately reported.

We expect The Sacramento Bee to correct the record as soon as possible. In particular, your newspaper should retract its assertion that Meg never voted in San Francisco or provide a credible on-the-record source to support the claim.

Regards,

Tucker Bounds
Director of Communications
Meg Whitman for Governor

(Cross posted at RedCounty.com.)

Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, BigJournalsim.com and all Breitbart News' other sites, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, and many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs across the country to discuss his opinion editorials and current events as well as appearing on TV networks such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and various Chicago-based news programs. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston and follow him on Twitter, on Google Plus , and Facebook.

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