Attorney for white nationalist group developed computer program to drop minority voters off voting rosters in 30 states
By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left: Miriam Raftery with Greg Palast at film debut in San Diego
Investigative reporter Greg Palast’s Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, pulls back the curtain to expose a dark conspiracy to steal votes from millions of minorities across America. A seasoned gumshoe detective turned award-winning investigative reporter, Palast leaves no room for doubt as he masterfully reveals the powerful players behind this insidious scheme.
East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery sat down for an exclusive interview with Palast, in town for the debut of his film in San Diego on Monday. You can hear our interview by clicking the orange audio link, and scroll down to read our review of this must-see documentary.
Told in film noir style, seasoned with cartoons and special effects, the movie first makes you laugh, then cry. You’ll learn about a computer program called “Crosscheck” used in 30 states (all with Republican secretaries of state) that purports to list names of 7.2 million voters suspected of voting twice. The trouble is that most of those names are common names in Latino, African-American and Asian communities—likely Democratic voters. The names aren’t exact matches. Many have different middle names or variant spellings. There are no driver’s licenses or Social Security numbers on the lists to compare identities. In short, there is no rational reason to think these are the same people voting more than once.Yet even when confronted with these facts, GOP election officials just shrugged, tossed Palast out the door and refused to take action.
The program was developed by Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach, a Republican operative, backer of Donald Trump, and attorney who has represented anti-immigrant and white nationalist groups such as the Immigration Law Reform Institute and the Federation for Immigration Reform. Palast calls the program “lynching by laptop.” He also helped write portions of Trump's immigration plan including calling for Mexico to pay for buildnig a border wall.
Note to our Republican readers: Palast’s report is not a partisan witch hunt or unsubstantiated claim. He’s got the facts, documents, and interviews to provide rock-solid proof that this chilling conspiracy is indisputably real. Although this film singles out Republicans for the largest scale vote-stealing effort on record in the U.S, during the film’s premier in San Diego Monday night Palast spoke to the audience (photo, left)—and made clear that Democrats have also tried to suppress votes. He cited as an example the 2016 primary, in which likely supporters of Bernie Sanders were targeted, such as the thousands of votes by independent voters' ballots left uncounted in California.
Palast doesn’t stop with exposing the Crosscheck program. He meticulously follows the money to reveal Crosscheck’s billionaire backers—including the oil baron Koch brothers and Paul “the Vulture” Singer, a mastermind behind mortgage schemes, the housing industry collapse, the destruction of Detroit and a global trail of destruction preying on dying communities.
You’ll have to watch the film to find out what happens when Palast, going undercover, crashes their parties and confronts these brazen bandits about their actions---which are currently being investigated by state and federal authorities. Palast’s work has succeeded in restoring voting rights in some states—but not all.
He also tracks down some of the supposed double voters---from an out-of-work Detroit man about to lose his home to foreclosure to elderly African-Americans who remember Selma and the long fight to win voting rights that have recently been eroded by the Supreme Court. You’ll see cameo appearances by Ed Asner as Santa Claus, Willie Nelson playing himself (his name, oddly, appears on the list of purged voters), and others.
The fast-moving film, though edged with wry wit and flashy special effects, packs a powerful punch on an important issue. It’s arguably the most important film in a generation, revealing a dark web of power-brokers seeking to control who gets elected to Congress, the presidency, and other powerful positions. At stake is our democracy—and your constitutional right to participate in our democratic process.
Palast has East County roots. His mother, Gladys, still resides in La Mesa. (Photo, right: Palast and his mother, Gladys.) Palast has been called the “most important journalist of our time—up there with Woodward and Bernstein” by the Guardian. He’s broken major stories for the BBC TV, the Guardian, The Nation magazine, and most recently, Rolling Stone magazine.
He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse , The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
The film Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, along with a companion book by the same name and a comic book version, can be ordered online at www.GregPalast.com. If you write in “KNSJ” on your order form, a portion of proceeds will be donated to support San Diego’s local public interest radio station(89.1 FM) broadcasting from Descanso, or what Palast calls “your network of mass instruction.”