-By Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger
November 2, 2012- The investigation into the arrest of a man on charges of dumping voter registration forms last month in Harrisonburg, Va., has widened, with state officials probing whether a company tied to top Republican leaders had engaged in voter registration fraud in the key battleground state, according to two persons close to the case.
A former employee of Strategic Allied Consulting, a contractor for the Republican Party of Virginia, had been scheduled to appear last Tuesday before a grand jury after he was charged with tossing completed registration forms into a recycling bin. But state prosecutors canceled Colin Small’s grand jury testimony to gather more information, with their focus expanding to the firm that had employed Small, which is led by longtime GOP operative Nathan Sproul.
State authorities are seeking to learn whether any of Small’s supervisors instructed him or any of his 40 co-workers in Virginia to ask potential voters about their political leanings during registration drives, the two sources said. Asking such questions could be a violation of state election law.
John Holloran, who along with co-counsel Justin Corder represents Small, said ethics rules prevented him from commenting on the probe. Marsha Garst, the commonwealth attorney overseeing the case, said Friday she could not describe the nature of the case, but said, “This is a very important investigation to the state, and we intend to prosecute Mr. Small to the fullest extent.”
Sproul’s firms and political consulting operations have faced questions over the past eight years, including investigations and formal charges of suppressing Democratic votes, destroying voter registrations and other election violations. The charges against Small came a month after voter registration work by a Sproul company prompted a fraud investigation in Florida.