Franken-Coleman Update, 01/27/09 (PM Edition): Hey! I Said “Better Tools, Please!”
And I thought yesterday’s events were crazy. The Coleman contest is so bizarre it’d be rejected as a Ben Stiller script.
As an UpTake commenter, Josh, said on the liveblog today: " [Comment From Josh] So recap: Day 1 is thrown out, pull out a couple of sympathetic witnesses, pull in a witness that says that his girlfriend forged a signature on the absentee ballot application, and we discover that one of the counties Coleman is using as a base for his argument is a Franken stronghold. Nice."
Or, as another (?) Josh, Mr. Marshall, said at Talking Points Memo:
Coleman witness and alleged ‘disenfranchised’ Coleman voter admits absentee fraud on the stand.
And this came out on direct examination.
Yes, boys and girls, this happened for real. Here’s the ‘disenfranchised’ Coleman voter:
One of the voters was Douglas Thompson, who admitted under oath that his girlfriend filled out his absentee ballot application for him, signing his name with her own hand and purporting to be himself. His ballot was rejected because the signature on his ballot envelope (his own) did not match the signature on the application (his girlfriend’s). The Coleman team’s argument appears to be that he is still a legal voter in Minnesota, as the signature on the ballot was his own, even if admitted dishonesty was involved in getting the ballot.
Keep in mind: Thompson’s story came up during the direct examination by Coleman lawyer James Langdon. So the Coleman camp fully knew this information and decided to make him into a witness.
How did this happen? As The UpTake’s Mike McIntee stated in his 5:15 pm update, the Coleman campaign is still shifting ballots in and out of the contest at will and at whim, trying to confuse the issue and the judges in a kind of three-card-ballot monte, or what the Franken camp’s Kevin Hamilton refers to as a "constant game of shuffling the deck". Except that judges get paid to see through this sort of crap, and the Coleman people either got too slick for their own good, or for some reason thought having a guy confessing to ballot fraud on the stand would be helpful to their case.
Remember, Norm Coleman has a hundred lawyers working for him, including guys shipped in by the national GOP. Most of the local talent, with the exception of local courtroom star Joe Friedberg, has been banished to the kiddie table while veterans of the Florida Coup are now running the show. And guess what? It’s even more messed up than it was when Fritz Knaak and Tony Trimble were in charge!
Stop the presses: Republican strategist, Mitt Romney flack, and utter tool among tools Alex Castellanos has written an opinon piece for CNN on the recount and Coleman’s contest, using Op-Edders (not journos) from the Murdoch Wall Street Journal to buttress his word-painting depicting a poor play-it-straight Norm Coleman, who never ever ever tried to pull a fast one during the recount, getting beat up by that evil lawyer-wielding, loophole-seeking Al Franken, who used the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling that campaigns were to be included in determining which of the wrongly-rejected "fifth-pile" absentee ballots to run roughshod over poor Normie-Wormie.
It was the Coleman team that used the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision to allow the campaigns a role in setting the fifth-pile ballot counting rules — a ruling that Franken fans like me bemoaned because we knew it was a gift to the Coleman team — to leave out ballots it didn’t like, and to change on a daily basis which ones it wanted and didn’t want included in the count. As noted above by Mike McIntee, the Coleman folks are still switching ballots in and out of the fray.
Oh, and it’s the crack Coleman team that Castellanos praises that presented, as evidence, futzed-with photocopies of properly rejected (i.e., not fifth pile) absentee ballots, photocopies that had both its marks and the county elections officials’ marks on them — and which the Coleman team had erased in its efforts to clean them up for the election contest, an act that the three-judge Election Contest Court did not particularly appreciate. In fact, they threw out that "evidence" and told Coleman’s people that they had to subpoena all the original ballots if they wanted to continue with their contest.
And it’s the Coleman team that presented, as a friendly, direct witness, a guy who copped to committing election fraud by having his girlfriend forge his signature on the ballot. And Coleman is apparently still "proud" of that witness.
But hey, that little piece of science fiction by Castellanos was certainly entertaining.