Michelle Malkin and Newsmax's Ponte claim partisan bent to MN canvassing board -- but board is bipartisan
On Fox & Friends, Michelle Malkin falsely suggested that Minnesota's State Canvassing Board is comprised of no Republicans, while, in a column, Newsmax's Lowell Ponte claimed that the "selection of the Canvassing Board and the recount were controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie." In fact, the board is bipartisan.
During the January 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that "Al Franken simply outplayed and outhustled the [Norm] Coleman campaign" in the Minnesota Senate race and that "the bottom-line lesson here for the Republicans is they need to get in the game with these things. They need to put Republicans on these canvassing boards, put them in positions of power to make sure that there aren't the kind of shenanigans that they say appear to have happened here." Similarly, in a January 7 column  on the conservative website Newsmax.com, contributing editor Lowell Ponte claimed that the "selection of the Canvassing Board and the recount were controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ultra-liberal Democrat with close ties to the controversial far-left activist group ACORN" and referred to the board as "the liberal Canvassing Board." In fact, contrary to Malkin's and Ponte's suggestions, Minnesota's State Canvassing Board is bipartisan. Additionally, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said that the board Ritchie named  was "fair ," while a Coleman campaign lawyer reportedly said  that the "state should feel good about who's on the panel."
As Media Matters for America noted , in a November 13 article  (purchase required), the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported of the canvassing board: "Politically, the panel is diverse. [Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric] Magnuson and [Minnesota Supreme Court Justice G. Barry] Anderson were appointed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. [Second Judicial District Chief Judge Kathleen R.] Gearin was elected in a nonpartisan race in 1986 and declined to say with what party, if any, she aligns herself. [Second Judicial District Assistant Chief Judge Edward J.] Cleary was appointed by Independence Party Gov. Jesse Ventura." Anderson is a former attorney  for the Minnesota Republican Party, while Magnuson is a former law firm colleague  of Pawlenty's.
Further, contrary to Ponte's claim that "the selection of the Canvassing Board" was "controlled" by Ritchie, the Pioneer Press reported: "State law defines  the canvassing board as two state Supreme Court justices, two district judges and the secretary of state. Ritchie asked Magnuson and Gearin to pick two from their respective pools. They picked themselves and their next-highest-ranking jurist."
From the January 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Hey, Michelle, a Minnesota canvassing board has certified Al Franken as the newest U.S. senator, but there are some on your side who say he is stealing the election.
MALKIN: There are, and there were clear signs through the recount that Al Franken had a lot of, at least, moral support and help from the folks who were conducting it. People who might have had conflicts of interest, who were involved with ACORN, which of course we know is notorious for voter fraud.
But some of my favorite Minnesota bloggers, including Scott Johnson at Power Line and Ed Morrissey at my own HotAir.com, followed this very closely, did a lot of their own original reporting about the recount, and concluded that, ultimately, the election wasn't so much, quote-unquote, "stolen" from Norm Coleman as it was the case that Al Franken simply outplayed and outhustled the Coleman campaign. And I think that the bottom-line lesson here for the Republicans is they need to get in the game with these things. They need to put Republicans on these canvassing boards, put them in positions of power to make sure that there aren't the kind of shenanigans that they say appear to have happened here, but also so that they're not completely left out in the cold when these things get as close as they did.
From Ponte's January 7 Newsmax.com column:
The selection of the Canvassing Board and the recount were controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ultra-liberal Democrat with close ties to the controversial far-left activist group ACORN.
In dozens of Minnesota precincts that boosted Franken's totals, the total vote was higher than the number of people who signed in as voters or absentee ballots. The apparent reason, as even State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, a Canvassing Board member, acknowledged, is that "very likely there was a double counting" of spoiled original and legally required duplicate ballots.
But instead of challenging this, the liberal Canvassing Board simply accepted the vote totals -- both defective originals and duplicate doppelganger votes -- without questioning local officials.