Wednesday, August 08, 2012

David Schweikert and Roll Call's Abby Livingston conspire to lie about AZ CD-6 early ballot results

Politico Mafioso’s original story follows:
Breaking news UPDATE!!  This morning, Washington DC Roll Call reporter Abby Livingston made a frantic and apologetic call to Quayle campaign HQ after she was forced to RETRACT her widely published LIES that claim state and national sources confirm AZ CD-6 early ballot results show David Schweikert "pulling away" from Ben Quayle.

In the online edition of Roll Call, Livingston DELETED her sub-title headline that falsely exclaimed: Early Mail-In Ballots Show Candidate Pulling Away From Fellow Freshman Quayle in 6th District.  Livingston added a "correction" dated August 9, 2012 to the end of her shill piece for Schweikert. Livingston states, "An earlier version of this article contained a subheadline with incorrect information about early mail-in ballot counts."

To see PM’s latest story and update on this scandal, complete with screen shots and links to Livingston’s original story – as published in the August 6, 2012 hard-copy version of Roll Call:

This week, Congressman David Schweikert and campaign consultant Chris Baker were featured in an August 6, 2012, print and online news story by Washington DC Roll Call reporter, Abby Livingston.

Livingston's original article, as printed in hard-copy editions of Roll Call

The story has garnered local and national attention for its compelling (but false) claim that the results of early ballots show Schweikert is pulling away from incumbent Congressman Ben Quayle in Arizona’s CD-6 Republican primary election. The story leaves the reader with the impression that the election is, statistically, already over and Quayle cannot recover.

Unfortunately for Livingston, her blatant lies, poor clock management and fantasy sources prove her piece is more like a Baker inspired press release that fluffs Schweikert for the DC stage rather than a credible news story on Arizona’s CD6 Republican primary election. 

One does not have to look further than the headlines and first few paragraphs to catch Livingston in her lies.

Livingston’s 1st & 2nd BIG LIES, headline: David Schweikert Up in Arizona – Early Mail-In Ballots Show Candidate Pulling Away From Fellow Freshman Quayle in 6th District - August 6, 2012, Midnight.

FACT CHECK: According to Maricopa County Recorder, Helen Purcell, it was statistically and logistically impossible for any early mail-in ballots to be returned to the Maricopa County Recorder’s office for tabulation and the results disseminated to the Schweikert campaign and/or Abby Livingston before the press deadline for Roll Call’s August 6, 2012 hard-copy and online editions.

Purcell is an elected official and gatekeeper of the validity and integrity of Maricopa County elections. Purcell read Livingston’s Roll Call story and told Politico Mafioso that the reporter’s claims are “Just not true.” 

Arizona’s official primary election date is August 28, 2012 but state law allows voters to request an “early ballot” that is mailed to their home address. In 2012, these ballots were mass mailed on Thursday, August 2 and arrived in mailboxes across the state on Friday (8/3), Saturday (8/4) or Monday, August 6. 

[In the 2010 election cycle, nearly 70% of Maricopa County voters used an early mail-in ballot or voted early at an official polling site. The severe August heat, with temperatures often reaching 110+, is a huge deterrent to standing in line at a polling place.] 

Before arriving at the Maricopa County Elections Department, any returned ballots must go through the Business Reply Mail processing unit at the main Phoenix post office where each ballot is counted and charged against the postage account of the Maricopa County Recorder. 

Purcell’s office was not open during the weekend and had not received any ballots by Livingston’s Roll Call press time. With no ballots in house, there could be no tabulation of results showing Schweikert “pulling away” from Quayle as Livingston claims. 

Purcell said her office would not even begin tabulating ballots until August 22, 2012. Her office must begin tabulations by that date in order to have the majority of the mail-in ballots counted by the official election date of August 28, 2012.

A staffer added, "Absolutely no ballots have been counted. The results of the 2012 primary election will NOT be made public until election night, after 8:00 pm".

Livingston’s 3rd BIG LIE, first paragraph: Rep. David Schweikert is pulling away from Rep. Ben Quayle in Arizona’s 6th district Republican primary, state and national sources have concluded.

FACT CHECK: Livingston piles one lie on top of another and now states Schweikert’s fake early ballot lead has been confirmed by “state and national sources”. Livingston, not surprisingly, does not name her sources, because none exist.

According to Purcell, Livingston did not contact her to verify the false claims that Purcell’s office had tabulated early ballots that showed Schweikert with a lead over Quayle. Purcell does not have state or national officials moonlighting in the Maricopa County Elections Department that could have slipped Livingston the erroneous information.

Purcell questioned the complicit nature of Schweikert and Baker’s agreement with Livingston in the Roll Call article. She quipped, “Do they have ESP?”

Locals don’t know if Schweikert campaign manager, Chris Baker, has ESP but it is well known that he is a shady character who recently lied to the FBI in the Fed’s investigation of the Arizona Republican Party’s participation and facilitation of illegal campaign contributions from Joe Arpaio’s Sheriff’s Command Association (SCA). Baker is a featured player in that dark money scheme.

Roll Call Editor Scott Montgomery and Politics Editor Lauren W. Whittington were asleep-at-the-wheel, as Livingston’s story was spell-checked but not fact-checked. These editors published Livingston’s story under the news category of “issues” and not as an opinion piece on the editorial pages, where one is free to follow Emily Dickinson’s advice to, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”.

Reporter Abby Livingston, with the blessing of her lazy editors, just put herself into dangerous and lonely territory. Astute politicos agree that her recent fictitious work is teetering dangerously close to that of disgraced former journalists and serial fabricators, Stephen Glass (The New Republic) and Jayson Blair (The New York Times).

The biggest problem for Livingston and her editors? The August 6, 2012 Roll Call article in question is not her first marshmallow piece for Schweikert or his political allies. Last week, Livingston couldn't resist getting a dig in on Quayle in a story about the multitude of candidates in AZ's CD-9 race. In recent weeks, Livingston wrote a piece that boldly declares that Arizona's US Senate front runner, Jeff Flake, lacks support in the primary. (Another Livingston lie). Current US Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain have both endorsed Jeff Flake. They've also endorsed Ben Quayle in AZ CD-6 instead of David Schweikert, a fact Livingston has conveniently left out of her recent articles.

Livingston frequently quotes Schweikert in her political stories. He just may be her mysterious "state and national sources" for this week's story that claims early ballots show he's winning. All of Livingston's stories, sources and facts must now be closely scrutinized. Maybe a Roll Call newsroom hater can write an exposé reminiscent of Adam Penenberg’s 1998 Forbes piece that finally put Stephen Glass out of journalism forever.

It's possible the problem may go deeper than Livingston. The DC corporate offices of Roll Call are on K Street, where everyone knows the real insider deals are made. Publishing lies that attempt to swing an election may be business-as-usual in Washington DC and business-as-usual for the Congressional Quarterly's Roll Call; however, in this case, it is an egregious attack on the integrity of the election process in Maricopa County and a shameful affront to Congressman Quayle, whose family created a decades long legacy of real journalism here in Arizona and across the country.

The words John Adams spoke in 1770 are just as timely today, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

Fact check that, Miss Abby Livingston.

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