Politico advances GOP's communist smear against MN secretary of state

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

The Politico falsely reported that "in a background document distributed by national Republicans," the National Republican Senatorial Committee "accuses" Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie "of having connections to ... the Communist Party of America." However, the NRSC "background document" to which the Politico presumably referred did not accuse Ritchie of "connections" to the Communist Party USA -- claiming only that "[t]he Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy" -- and insofar as the document's reference to the Communist Party USA suggested a link to Ritchie, it did not back up the suggestion with any evidence.

In a November 11 Politico article, correspondent Josh Kraushaar falsely reported that "in a background document distributed by national Republicans," the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) "accuses" Minnesota Secretary of State* Mark Ritchie "of having connections to the controversial voter registration group ACORN and the Communist Party of America." In fact, the NRSC "background document" to which Kraushaar presumably referred did not accuse Ritchie of "connections" to the Communist Party USA -- claiming only that "[t]he Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy" [emphasis added]. Insofar as the document's reference to the Communist Party USA suggested a link to Ritchie, the document provided no evidence to back up such a suggestion.

Talking Points Memo's Zachary Roth posted the November 10 background document about Ritchie distributed by the NRSC. Under the subhead "Ritchie Has Exhibited His Liberal Partisanship As Secretary of State," the NRSC wrote that "Ritchie Is Aligned With Progressive Groups and 'The Communist Party USA Wrote Encouragingly Of his Candidacy.' " In the "background document," the NRSC cited as evidence a November 23, 2007, Minneapolis Star Tribune article reporting that the "Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy." Citing only the "background document," which itself cited only the Star Tribune article, Kraushaar reported -- and advanced the NRSC's baseless suggestion -- that Ritchie has been accused of having a "connection[]" to the Communist Party USA.

From the document:

Further, the Star Tribune article making the original claim that the "Communist Party USA wrote encouragingly of his candidacy" did not provide any evidence for this claim. According to a search of the Communist Party USA's website, in a June 24, 2006, report, CPUSA political action committee chair Joelle Fishman wrote: "In Minnesota the DFL [Democratic-Farmer-Labor, the state's version of the Democratic Party] candidate for Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, of the League of Rural Voters could play a valuable national role."

From Kraushaar's November 11 Politico article:

Republicans are also questioning the credibility of Minnesota's Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the man tasked with overseeing the recount. A background document distributed by national Republicans portrays Ritchie as a far-left, Democratic version of Katherine Harris, the former Republican secretary of state whose actions helped decide the 2000 presidential election. The document accuses Ritchie, who was elected in 2006 with the assistance of a progressive-led group designed to elected Democratic election administrators, of having connections to the controversial voter registration group ACORN and the Communist Party of America.

The canvassing of all the counties is scheduled to end Monday evening. A Franken campaign spokesperson said they don't expect to overtake Coleman, but believe the margin may slightly decrease again when the canvassing in Minneapolis' Hennepin County is completed.

*CORRECTION: This item incorrectly identified Mark Ritchie as Minnesota's attorney general. He is Minnesota's secretary of state. Media Matters for America regrets the error.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
The Politico
Person
Josh Kraushaar
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