President Trump asked for a voter fraud investigation after lying up a storm after inauguration day, and now he’s got one inside his Administration.
The Washington Post reports that Trump’s Senior White House Advisor and notorious white supremacist Steven K. Bannon is under investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office for alleged voter fraud by registering to vote at his ex-wife’s home.
Steve Bannon’s Miami voter registration problem surfaced shortly after his ascent to Trump campaign chief executive last August, which could be an obvious means of avoiding California’s steep state income taxes, which can be as high as 12%.
Breitbart News, Bannon’s former employer, is based in Beverley Hills. The Post reports:
The Post found that Bannon left a negligible footprint in Florida. He did not get a Florida driver’s license or register a car in the state. He never voted in Florida, and neighbors near two homes he leased in Miami said they never saw him. His rent and utility bills were sent to his business manager in California. Bannon’s former wife occupied the premises, according to a landlord and neighbors.
At the same time Bannon said he was living with his ex-wife, she was under investigation for involvement in a plot to smuggle drugs and a cellphone into a Miami jail, a law enforcement document obtained by The Post shows.
The Post learned that state prosecutors in Miami have an active investigation into Bannon’s assertions that he was a Florida resident and qualified to vote in the state from 2014 to 2016. In late August, investigators subpoenaed Bannon’s lease of a Coconut Grove home and other documents. They also contacted the landlords of that home and another that Bannon leased nearby, and sought information from a gardener and handyman who worked at one of the homes, according to documents and interviews. Because state laws do not clearly define residency, making a false registration case can be difficult.
It is a very difficult case to make, but The Post did an admirable job of interviewing everyone who lived near the pricey home Bannon rented for his ex-wife, including a retired City Commissioner:
Three neighbors interviewed by The Post said they were confident Bannon had not lived at the home. “I often saw Diane,” said Joseph “J.L.” Plummer, a prominent Miami resident who lived next door and was a city commissioner for nearly 30 years. “I never saw him.”
The Miami connection is an eerily strange echo of the Watergate scandal in the investigation of Steven Bannon; the major break in the case against Nixon came from a Miami prosecutor.
While this voter registration offense is not the kind of crime that would send anyone to jail, especially for a first offense, The Post notes that it is the kind of crime which could lead to revocation of his security clearance.
Under Florida law, it is a third-degree felony to provide false information on a voter registration application. It is punishable by up to five years in prison. First-time offenders are rarely given more than probation, something that could also lead to the loss of a security clearance.
Supporting their statement, the State Department’s website is detailed about how and why its criminal convictions matter in sharing secrets: “Criminal activity creates doubt about a person’s judgment, reliability and trustworthiness. By its very nature, it calls into question a person’s ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules and regulations.”
Miami’s local NBC affiliate broke the first story that investigators requested information about the review of Steven Bannon’s voting history, but in the light of new information confirming an ongoing investigation, the Trump camp has to be concerned. From The Post:
Officials from the State Attorney’s Office for Miami-Dade County, which is led by an elected Democrat, declined to provide details about their probe into Bannon’s residency claim. In denying a Post request for documents about the investigation, officials cited confidentiality rules for “active criminal investigative information.”
Spokesman Ed Griffith said, “At this point it is not over.”
Republicans put voter fraud onto their party platform, pretending to care about the integrity of our elections while using strict voter ID laws to make it more difficult for minorities, the elderly, and the young to vote. It seems that every time someone is actually caught in the act of illegal voting, it is a Republican – like this sad Iowa woman caught voting twice last October.
If Steven Bannon loses his security clearance, the White House will be well rid of a dangerous white supremacist with an apocalyptic worldview. Trump, however, will be left without one of his chief advisors, and may be forced to turn to FOX & Friends even more often for guidance.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition