Thank you for coming. 

I am honored to have with me Our Secretary of State, Bruce McPherson.  Also here is Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Hess, who will be prosecuting the cases against all twelve defendants. 

You will get a chance to hear from them and I am sure they are going to welcome your questions.  I will first explain the investigation and the description of the charges and turn the floor over to our guests. 

After a 5-month joint investigation, the offices of the California Secretary of State and the Orange County District Attorney have identified and filed charges against twelve defendants for a voter fraud scam that victimized Orange County voters and both the Orange County Republican and Democrat parties. 

I would like to thank the Secretary for his diligence and attention to this matter.  This investigation has required a great deal of coordination and communication between our offices, and we appreciate the Secretary’s hard work and leadership.  

In 2005, circulators were hired by independent petition companies.  These companies had been contracted by the Orange County Republican Party and tasked with registering new voters to expand the Party base in Orange County.  The circulators were paid $10 for each new registration and received bonuses for getting signatures on statewide ballot initiative petitions. 

The circulators would solicit petition signatures in high traffic areas such as college campuses, grocery stores, and large retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target.  The victims, who believed they were signing initiatives in support of stricter sex offender laws, were tricked into also signing voter registration cards without filling out the accompanying information. 

The circulators then fraudulently filled out the rest of the registration cards with the remaining voter information and sent them in to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.   The Registrar became aware of the issue when victims began filing complaints after receiving notices welcoming them to the Republican Party.  The complaints were sent to the Secretary of State for further review, and our office was informed of twelve potential defendants in Orange County. 

In order to receive payment for registering new voters, the circulators had to sign each voter registration card they completed.  The twelve defendants we are prosecuting were identified by their signatures on the fraudulent voter registration cards, as well as through over 50 victim interviews and photo line-ups conducted by our office.

The individuals we are prosecuting were not acting on behalf of a political party; they were acting for themselves at the expense of the political parties.  No one benefits from voter fraud except those committing the fraud.  For $10 a head, these defendants were willing to deprive citizens of their core rights in the democratic process – a citizen’s right to belong to a party whose ideas they support and to vote in their party’s primary election.  They violated the rights of the victims by attempting to undermine the basis of the democratic system, an offense that we take seriously.

These types of fraud can victimize people on different levels.  It interferes with First Amendment and voting rights of the voters who had their registration switched without their knowledge.  The Republicans paid out money for phony registrations that were of no benefit to them.  The Democrats could have been deprived of the right to have voters participate as official party members. 

Arrest warrants have been issued on 10 men and two women.  Seven defendants have been arrested.  Many of these defendants are transient, and defendants Farrow, Hayes, Ogwo, Ricca, and Williams have yet to be located.  I would suggest they turn themselves in on the warrant.  We ask that anyone with information about their whereabouts please contact our investigators at 714-347-8496.   

Now I will turn the floor over to the Secretary of State.