Maiello: Defeat the Press
Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Human behavior doesn’t always make logical sense, but in our increasingly plugged-in world, stories about human behavior have a certain predictability to them. Call it the power of gossip. If an event occurs, and the usual human interest debates about the event and people involved don’t happen, it’s a clue that we might not have all the facts.
I’ve been following the story of Colin Small, a young Republican who was seen throwing out completed voter registration forms in Harrisonburg, VA, and got arrested for it. Turns out Small was employed by the oft-renamed firm sometimes and formerly known as Strategic Allied Consultants, sometimes and formerly run by disgraced Republican consultant Nathan Sproul.
Allegations have been made, predictably, that Small’s act was part of a larger Strategic Allied conspiracy, but no solid proof has emerged. Small’s bosses fired him and offered the usual “bad apple” explanation.
In addition, a rather weak explanation for Small’s behavior was offered up by an “unnamed source close to the story” who said Small panicked because he couldn't file the forms by the deadline, and solved his problem by ditching them.
As a practical matter, the unnamed source’s explanation doesn’t hold up. Small ditched the forms early in the day, not at the last moment, and in any case he could have mailed them in a pinch. Maybe he had made some sort of uncorrectable error and been unable to follow up with the voters in question, but in that case, why not just file the forms anyway, with a note that he just couldn’t contact the voters?
Normally you’d expect the authorities to investigate this kind of thing, but The Virginia State Board of Elections maintains that since there’s no box for party affiliation on the forms, there’s no indication that Small’s activity was partisan, so they see no need to request an investigation, and therefore, the charges against Small can’t go forward. (Actually, I have to check that. Maybe the criminal charges are still in place.)
And that is all the information that’s available.
Now, this is where it gets interesting for me. People love to talk, Republicans just as much as Democrats, and no Republicans are talking about Colin Small’s actual behavior, as far as I can see. You’d think that by this time, competing narratives about him would have emerged—an explanation of exactly what the “mistake” was, or co-workers saying they couldn’t believe such a nice guy would do something like this, that sort of thing. Bear in mind that we’re talking about a guy with a degree from Catholic U here—presumably a straight-arrow type who’d be horrified at having besmirched his honor or that of others. We might even expect that Small himself would make some sort of “I did it and I’m very, very sorry” speech: fall on his sword for the sake of the Republican narrative. Why hasn’t he said anything about what happened, or at least refused to comment about it? Or, if Small wasn’t a nice person, you’d think there’d be some “couldn’t happen to a nicer guy” grumbling coming from his co-workers.
At the very least, you’d think the VSBE would try to take the heat off itself by hinting at what kind of “mistake” would render further investigation unnecessary.
But, nothing. There’s no sacrificial nerd in sight, and no explanation for why not. A speculation vacuum is not a natural state, and that very nothing is a hint to me that there’s something more here—maybe not a vast Sproul conspiracy, but we can safely say that Colin Small didn’t throw those forms away because he couldn’t get them to the Registrar’s office sometime on October 15.
Those interested in moving this story forward are encouraged to contact the Virginia State Board of Elections and request an investigation into the matter.