After Wall Street Journal writer John Fund told a crowd at a David Horowitz Freedom Center forum that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) were planning on introducing legislation that would lead to universal voter registration, the claim was repeated by numerous right-wing media outlets despite the fact that Fund provided no evidence for his claim. After Frank wrote a letter to Fund denying that he was introducing such legislation, Fund retracted his statement that Frank was pushing any such legislation.
Fund falsely claims, "In January, Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank will propose universal voter registration"
Fund: "Stealth" universal voter registration will be introduced by Frank in January. In November 2009, Fund, speaking at a David Horowitz Freedom Center forum, declared that Schumer and Frank were planning to introduce universal voter registration legislation:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: John, I know you're very much involved in vote stealing, and I'd love to hear what you and the two congressmen have to say about all the votes that were stolen in the previous election, and why we haven't heard more screaming and yelling about it.
FUND: Look, you can cry over spilled milk or stolen votes in the past; I'm worried about the ones in the future. Democrats were very rattled by the November 3 election results. What do liberals do when they lose elections? They change the rules.
In January, Chuck Schumer and Barney Frank will propose universal voter registration. What is universal voter registration? It means all of the state laws on elections will be overridden by a federal mandate.The feds will tell the states, take everyone on every list of welfare recipients you have, take everyone on every list of unemployed you have, take everyone on every list of property owners, take everyone on every list of drivers license holders, and register them to vote regardless of whether they want to be.
OFF-CAMERA: And then they'll vote them, believe me.
FUND: And then, oh, by the way, there will be felon re-enfranchisement, too. At that point, you have destroyed the integrity of the registration process. Now they will sell this very cleverly; they will say, well, OK, ACORN did have some problems with voter registration; we shouldn't have these third-party rogue groups out there. So let's put ACORN out of business, let's register everybody.
Now the problem of course is there are a lot of duplicates. And there are a lot of people on those roles who are illegal aliens. There are a lot of people on those rolls that are not -- it's not a clean list. They don't care. So this is the issue you haven't heard about. There's a reason you haven't heard about it. They don't want you to hear about it. The path between the day this bill is introduced and the day it hits the House floor will probably be less than two weeks. Get ready for it. You can stop it, don't get me wrong, but this is their stealth bill that is even more sneaky than the health care bill.
Right-wing media run with the story, even though Fund provided no evidence to support his claim
Examiner.com: "What the Dems know that we don't: Universal Voter Registration." In a January 4 Examiner.com article, James Simpson posted video of Fund's comments and wrote: "Many are puzzled that Democrats persist in ramming unpopular and destructive legislation down our collective throats while seemingly unconcerned by their plummeting poll numbers. ... What do they know that we don't?" According to Simpson, the answer is legislation that will be "a nationwide Democrat voter registration drive facilitated by taxpayers."
Washington Times claimed, "Democrats are scheming to find ways to manipulate the electoral process." In a January 7 editorial entitled, "Letting crooks & illegals vote," The Washington Times reported, "Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, have plans to ram through legislation that will produce universal voter registration. No matter what they claim, the rule changes will make it possible for illegal aliens to register to vote and for others to register multiple times." Citing no evidence to support the claim, the Times declared, "It speaks volumes about Democratic unpopularity that they have to look to criminals and illegal aliens to try to shore up their voting base."
Limbaugh: Fund's claim "may well be true, it could well be that they're going to try this." On January 6, Rush Limbaugh quoted Fund's presentation and predicted that "it could well be true, it could well be that they're going to try this." Limbaugh repeated Fund's claim that "sometime this month it will be proposed by Chuck-U Schumer and Barney Frank" but expressed some skepticism, because "I think if they were really confident that this is going to happen and work then they wouldn't be having any of these people quit," referencing the announced retirements of Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan.
Beck: "John Fund reports that Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer now are about to introduce universal voter registration." On the January 5 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck repeated Fund's claim that "Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer now are about to introduce -- hold yourself -- universal voter registration. What this is is if you're on any federal roll at all, you're automatically a voter. You are receiving welfare, food stamps, oh, if you're a homeowner, unemployed, you are automatically -- automatically -- a voter."
After Frank calls Fund's accusation "entirely wrong," Fund partially retracts claim
Frank letter to Fund: "You simply made this up with regard to me," and "you are entirely wrong." On January 13, Frank wrote a letter to Fund accusing him of making "your assertion with no factual basis and without any effort to verify it. To me, that qualifies as a lie." According to Frank, "I have had no involvement with this whatsoever, with Senator Schumer or anybody else." Frank told Fund: "I now write not simply to tell you that you are entirely wrong in your assertion about me but, in the absence of your being able to show any basis on which you made such a statement, to ask that you acknowledge that fact."
Fund retracts claim that Frank is working on "universal voter registration" bill. In a January 18 WorldNetDaily article, columnist Chelsea Schilling reprinted sections of Frank's letter and reported that "Fund corrected himself when he spoke with WND." Fund reportedly said: "I made an error. I should have referred to John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It's not Congressman Frank. It's Congressman Conyers," although Fund continued to cite no evidence for this claim.