Hit & Run

Nader Accuses Dems of 'Mini-Watergate'


The Democrats' least favorite lefty arrived in Boston Friday, and immediately began tossing out accusations that the Donks were conducting a "dirty tricks campaign" to derail his efforts to get on state ballots. Most of Nader's grievances, as sketched out in the letter he sent Friday to John Kerry, don't quite sink to the G. Gordon Liddy level ("In Arizona," he gravely informed Democracy Now host Amy Goodman two weeks ago, "the democrats hired three corporate law firms.").

But there is one pretty intriguing charge -- that Democrats have twice infiltrated Oregon rallies where Nader supporters expected to collect the 1,000-signatures-at-one-time necessary to get on the swing state's ballot. From an article in Thursday's Oregonian:

In Oregon, Nader has twice failed to attract the 1,000 registered voters to a convention, which is one method of qualifying for the ballot. At the [June 26] Benson High event, [Nader organizer Greg] Kafoury said, there were about 1,150 people in the room, but it only produced 950 signatures from registered voters.

Kafoury charged that the Democratic Party stacked the room with at least 150 volunteers who purposely didn't sign the petition for Nader. And he also said Democrats swamped Kafoury's phone lines the day before the convention to hinder the effort to get Nader supporters to attend.

"The dirty tricks of the Democratic Party have succeeded," Kafoury said. "We were sabotaged."

A volunteer official with the Multnomah County Democratic Party, Moses Ross, did send out an e-mail a few hours before the event urging Democrats to attend and not sign the petition.

But Neel Pender, the state Democratic Party's executive director, said Ross was acting on his own and that the state party "disavowed" his efforts. Pender said there was also no organized effort to jam the Nader phone lines, although he said he wouldn't be surprised if many Democrats decided on their own to call Kafoury and complain about Nader's campaign.

Nader told reporters in Boston Friday that he told Kerry about this "potential mini-Watergate" two weeks ago, and that the Man from Beacon Hill said he'd "look into the situation."

Meanwhile, the Oregon anecdote is telling in another way. Four years ago, Nader kicked off a surprisingly successful national arena tour in Portland, selling 10,500 tickets to the Memorial Coliseum; an act that would be repeated in Madison Square Garden, the MCI Center, and dozens of smaller venues around the country. The fact that he can't gather a measley 1,000 this year speaks volumes.