On Wednesday, Bluestem asked What did Mary Kiffmeyer know about ID fraudster "Victoria Ayoola" & when did she know it?
The questions in the headline aren't just rhetorical; the ID fraudster, who was hired and promoted under the Kiffmeyer administration in the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, first voted using her fake identity in 2004, under Kiffmeyer's watch.
Reviewing conservative tweets about the Affair de Ayoola, we stumbled across a curious call and response in the tweet stream of Northwestern College (MN) professor and Republican activist Kent Kaiser. Kaiser tweeted:
One of the two Kaiser followers who retweeted added a suggestion of his own
Kaiser and another follower retweeted that.
A closer look at Kaiser's career, however, suggests that the presence of "Victoria Ayoola"/Oluremi George in the ranks workers at the Minnesota Secretary of State's office isn't such a winning issue for the professor.
While the tweeting right linking to the Fox News reports, other sources centered less on the sensationalism of the arrest and more on the basic facts of the case. One inconvenient truth for Kaiser?
Elisabeth Mohr reported in State employee indicted on federal fraud charges:
Using the Ayoola name, George was hired by then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer in 2005 as a temporary office specialist. In 2006, she was promoted to administrative specialist, according to Pat Turgeon, spokeswoman for the office.
Ayoola remains officially employed as a clerical employee in the business services division, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's office said in a news release.
Ritchie said in the release: "As soon as the indictment was unsealed, the office took immediate steps to ensure that all of our systems were protected. Yesterday, this office provided information to the Washington County attorney regarding Ms. George using her false government-issued driver's license to register to vote and vote in 2004 and 2008, which would be additional felony violations of state law."
That's inconvenient for Kaiser because--as he would phrase it--was a "right-hand" member of Mary Kiffmeyer's staff while she served as Minnesota Secretary of State.
A search of Nexis's "All News" database of articles published before January 1, 2007 (Ritchie defeated Kiffmeyer in the 2006 election) using the key phrases "Kent Kaiser" and "Secretary of State" yields 204 articles, the first dated March 9, 2000. According to a Star Tribune article published on that date, "State's first use of Web site to track election results is viewed as a success," Kent Kaiser "work[ed] in the department's elections division."
By the time of the next article in the search, "Candidates' Web pages now linked to state secretary's site," Kaiser had new responsibilities, serving as "Kiffmeyer's communications director." (St. Cloud Times, July 7, 2000).
Kaiser continued to work as spokesman for the office throughout Kiffmeyer's administration and into the first year of the Ritchie administration. A Nexis search of articles published after January 1, 2007 reveals that Kaiser's name last appears on a MNSOS news release on July 27, 2007 (SECRETARY OF STATE RITCHIE ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF BROCHURE FOR NOTARIES. US States News, July 27, 2007, Nexis All-News, accessed July 20, 2012).
Since then, Kaiser has been a go-to guy about the workings of the Secretary of State's office. Since he was indeed Kiffmeyer's "right-hand" worker, perhaps he can answer questions about the hiring of "Victoria Ayoola" by Mary Kiffmeyer:
These facts raise some questions for former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer.
1. This person was hired and then promoted by Mary Kiffmeyer. Does she or or her chief staff Kent Kaiser know if there was some special reason why George was hired?
2. Why was George promoted during the Kiffmeyer administration? Were there any special reasons why George was promoted?
3. George voted illegally under Secretary Kiffmeyer's watch in 2004. Did Kiffmeyer know this and ignore it, or was she not aware of the vote? What measures did she have in place to address this sort of fraud? As Steve Drazkowski asked of Mark Ritchie, did this woman run the state's voter data base?
We know from a press release issued by Ritchie's office that George's job was clerical assistant in the business services office, located in a completely different location from all elections staff. Information about her responsibilities under Secretary Kiffmeyer could be obtained by calling her directly. Perhaps the conservative bloggers attacking Mark Ritchie could give Mary Kiffmeyer a call.
Or Kent Kaiser.
Images: Screenshots of tweets (above); Mary Kiffmeyer (below, Photo credits: Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent.)
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