Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Examination of GOP backed, Sproul & Associates

Breaking All the Sprouls

Voter Outreach of America – a front group run by Republican operative Nathan Sproul and financed with more than $600,000 from the RNC – hired Tyrone Mrasek to register voters. The LA Times reports, Mrasek "was given a written script to ask people whether they favored Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry. To those favoring the Massachusetts senator, Mrasek replied that he was just taking a poll and thanked them for stopping." He was told to offer registrations to people who favored Bush and tell them "George Bush really needs your help this election." There was a backup plan for anyone who inadvertently signed up a Democrat: outside Sproul's office Mrasek "found a stack of signed registrations for Democratic voters in a trash can." Similar stories of partisan dirty tricks by Sproul have been documented in Oregon, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

LEAVE NO REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE BEHIND: Nathan Sproul doesn't just collect money from the RNC for running voter registration scams. As a director for Voyager Expanded Learning, he receives buckets of cash for selling the "Voyager reading curriculum" to schools attempting to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act.

SPROUL'S COMPANY USES CONNECTION TO BUSH TO GET CONTRACTS: The Public Advocate of the City of New York accused Voyager of using "politics to gain contracts," including close ties to Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The Public Advocate notes, "as Texas Governor, George W. Bush pushed a proposal giving $25 million in state money to after school programs that would aid Voyager, which had contributed more than $45,000 to Bush and over $20,000 to Bush's lieutenant governor running mate."

SPROUL'S COMPANY MANIPULATES RESEARCH TO PUSH PRODUCT: There is controversy on the effectiveness of the Voyager reading curriculum. Most of the research that does exist has been conducted by people with "connections to, or financial interest in, the company." The research is described by university scholars who specialize in reading curriculum as "flimsy and unscientific."

ED DEPARTMENT PRESSURES SCHOOLS TO HIRE SPROUL'S COMPANY: Many education experts believe "the research used to justify Voyager's claims to success were unscientific and produced very little results." Nevertheless "the U.S Education Department led applicants for federal reading funds to believe that approval of their application would be speeded up if they indicated a preference for particular commercial programs, including Voyager."

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