Rep. Dan Lungren has come to the defense of a Sacramento County Republican Party voter registration drive that has come under fire for filing potentially fraudulent registration cards.
Lungren said he supported the voter drive and understood that there were sufficient safeguards in place to prevent fraud. "The overall registration effort made by the party was very successful. I am unaware of any single registration that was paid for by that program that had any problems," he said last week, adding that it's possible that the voters filling out the forms made mistakes.
Sacramento County election officials forwarded information about the registration effort to the Secretary of State last month after finding irregularities with the voter registration cards submitted by circulators working for Momentum Political Services, a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party.
Lungren said it was his understanding that cards collected by the drive had to go through multiple validity checks before a payment to the vendor would be made, though he said he had to distance himself from the operation because of campaign finance laws.
Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera, who is challenging Lungren in November, has called for an investigation into the drive, writing in a letter to the Secretary of State that reports showed "3000 voter registration cards contained false or illegally changed information to inflate the amount of registered Republican voters in the newly drawn seventh Congressional District."
His campaign has raised questions about the Gold River Republican's involvement in the effort, pointing to a form submitted to county election officials that called the effort a "Lungren Voter Drive."
Lungren said last week that he supported the effort and did what was allowed under campaign finance laws to help the drive. At least two of his donors gave money to the county GOP's federal campaign committee last fall, but he declined to specify whether he solicited any contributions to help with voter registration.
"The law is so complicated that we're allowed to do certain things for certain days and then as you get closer to the election we're not allowed to. I can raise funds under certain circumstances and certain times and I can't raise it in others," he said. "Sometimes I can tell people there's a registration drive going on and if they want to send money they can, other times I can't even say that. So whatever the constraints were, we worked within them."
Representatives for the Secretary of State and the Sacramento County District Attorney's office, which would have power to prosecute, declined to comment on any complaints or investigations into the matter, citing confidentiality policies. The Secretary of State's elections fraud division said in a letter responding to Bera's complaint that they are "evaluating" the materials the campaign sent.
Lungren said he supports an investigation if evidence shows one is merited.
"Look, if there's any foul play, they ought to look at it, on any side," he said.
Suspicious voter registration cards found in Sacramento County