Sunday, March 09, 2008

Aiding and Abetting, Inciting and Encouraging Criminal Acts

Before the Ohio Primary last Tuesday and in other primaries, Rush Limbaugh and other Conservative pundits openly encouraged their listeners to falsely register as Democrats and vote for Hillary Clinton in the elections.
Of course the strategy was to have Hillary, the percieved "most vunerable" candidate win. In a few predominantely Republican Counties in Southwestern Ohio, the results were obvious. Suddenly the amount of Democrats had increased dramatically and in the aftermath, there were even admissions by Butler County Republicans they had
done what Rush had suggested on his show.
This was quite obviously election tampering. It is against the law.

The law in Ohio, the Ohio Revised Code, is very clear on what Republicans have done. ORC 3513.20 says:

Before any challenged person shall be allowed to vote at a primary election , the person shall make a statement, under penalty of election falsification, before one of the precinct officials, blanks for which shall be furnished by the board of elections, giving name, age, residence, length of residence in the precinct, county, and state; stating that the person desires to be affiliated with and supports the principles of the political party whose ballot the person desires to vote; and giving all other facts necessary to determine whether the person is entitled to vote in that primary election. The statement shall be returned to the office of the board with the pollbooks and tally sheets . . . .
3599.36 Election falsification reads:
No person, either orally or in writing, on oath lawfully administered or in a statement made under penalty of election falsification, shall knowingly state a falsehood as to a material matter relating to an election in a proceeding before a court, tribunal, or election official, or in a matter in relation to which an oath or statement under penalty of election falsification is authorized by law, including a statement required for verifying or filing any declaration of candidacy, declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, nominating petition, or other petition presented to or filed with the secretary of state, a board of elections, or any other public office for the purpose of becoming a candidate for any elective office, including the office of a political party, for the purpose of submitting a question or issue to the electors at an election, or for the purpose of forming a political party.
Whoever violates this section is guilty of election falsification, a felony of the fifth degree.
A person that commits election falsification can face six to twelve months in prison as well as a $2,500 fine according to Ohio sentencing guidelines.

Rush Limbaugh is very evidently guilty of inciting and encouraging, aiding and abetting in the commission of felony acts.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I've been wondering about the law on this.

I agree that what Rush did was deplorable and affected the Ohio primary, but it probably wasn't illegal. I doubt his comments were "aiding and abetting," and otherwise they were probably protected free speech under the First Amendment.

Incitement isn't protected, and that's probably the best argument here. But I don't think this counts as incitement. Incitement is speech directed at producing imminent lawless action that is likely to result. Rush's comments do seem to have been "directed at producing" lawless action, and the lawless action was "likely to result" (thanks to the lemming-like behavior of the Dittoheads). But I doubt the lawless action was "imminent." Imminence requires a very close temporal relationship between the speech and the act, so Rush probably needed to make the statements right before people punched their ballots.

I dislike Rush as much as anybody, but he probably wasn't breaking the law. Too bad, really.

jon said...

Interesting point on incitement ... there's starting to be more attention to this -- the Cleveland Plain Dealer article, a post yesterday on Wired's THREAT LEVEL blog -- and thus far nobody's discussed Rush's liability.

Also, even if it doesn't rise to the level of a criminal offense, if it turns out that Rush encouraged large numbers of listeners to do something illegal, it could potentially lead to a lot of pressure on his sponsors and the stations that carry him.

We shall see ...

Anonymous said...

I've never seen any group of people as terrified of one, single man as the dems are of Limbaugh..

He's eating it up with a spoon.

microdot said...

Terrified? I think disgusted is more the correct term.
If you are one of his syncophants, and are somehow trying to tell me that this was a correct action on his part, then please, accept my most heartfelt contempt.
American Democracy stood for something and worked for 200 years until you guys figured out how to totally compromise it and fuck it for good!
Enjoy your slightly dented dictatorship, it will never be shiny and new.