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Strategic Allied Consulting: Could controversial voter firm still have Colorado ties?

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The Colorado GOP last month cut ties with a controversial voter-registration firm accused of fraud. But Nathan Sproul, the consultant behind the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, has since popped up elsewhere, continuing voter canvassing work across the country. And in Colorado, some Craigslist advertisements suggest that Sproul, or a company affiliated with him, may still be active across the state.

In Colorado, this controversy first got attention in September, when a video of a young woman saying she was only registering Mitt Romney supporters went viral. One reason: Canvassers in registration drives aren't allowed to refuse those who don't support their party.

Soon after, it was reported that the young woman was a contract employee for Strategic Allied Consulting.

Here's that video.

The Republican National Committee announced that it would no longer work with the company after allegations of fraudulent forms being in Florida. Additionally, Sproul, the operative behind Strategic Allied and a former director of the Republican Party in Arizona, has in the past faced accusations of leading registration drives where employees were dumping Democratic registration forms.

And in Colorado, as we reported earlier this month, a former employee of Strategic Allied is under investigation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Sproul is still actively doing voter canvassing work, possibly in different states across the country.

And two Craigslist ads locally suggest that he or his affiliates could be working in Colorado, though a spokesman for Strategic Allied says that is not the case.

The ads, which are looking for individuals to do "voter canvassing," in Colorado Springs and in Denver, come from a group called PinPoint Staffing. The worker allegedly responsible for suspicious forms in Florida with Strategic Allied told the L.A. Times that he got his job by responding to an ad from PinPoint on Craigslist.

That individual also said he was given zero training, thought he was working with the Republican Party and was told to ask people how they were voting; if they answered Obama, he wished them a good day, and if they answered Romney, he registered them.

Continue for comments from Strategic Allied and from the groups concerned about these voter canvassing efforts. Here's a screenshot from one of the Craigslist ads. David Leibowitz, a spokesman for Strategic Allied, tells us that PinPoint Staffing is one of several staffing companies that Strategic has used to hire people, but that it currently is not working with that company in Colorado -- and Strategic now has no business in Colorado. A spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party also tells us that the GOP contracted with Strategic Allied rather than PinPoint.

But it's still not clear exactly what PinPoint is doing in Colorado or who the firm might be working for -- and that's a major concern for groups critical of Strategic Allied. Additionally, the canvassing activities are similar to what Sproul is doing in other states. Given its affiliations with Strategic Allied, PinPoint has a history of working on controversial voter efforts to support Republican voters.

The Colorado ad says: "Campaigners NEEDED A.S.A.P! -- STUDENTS! TEACHERS ON BREAK! PEOPLE IN BETWEEN WORK! RETIREES! & GOOD HARD WORKING AMERICANS!" but doesn't have many specifics beyond that. We first got wind of this from Ellen Dumm, a liberal strategist in Colorado, who says she heard that Pinpoint was collecting mail-in ballots from residents supporting Mitt Romney. That's when she tracked down the Craigslist ads, which she sent our way, along with a Secretary of State filing from PinPoint, showing that the company has an office in Arizona, where Sproul is based.

PinPoint did not return numerous requests for an interview. We did speak briefly with one employee, who told us PinPoint is a temp agency that's currently doing door-to-door canvassing in support of Republicans. This person told us these efforts involve surveys and helping residents sign up for mail-in ballots.

"It raises questions," says Dumm. "It just doesn't seem like there's a lot of oversight.... It concerns me."

It's especially a worry to Dumm and other voter advocacy groups in Colorado since Federal Election Commission reports show that Colorado's Republican Party spent a large chunk of its budget on Strategic Allied.

Dumm feels the prospect of potential voter fraud actually deserves serious attention -- unlike efforts to weed out illegal immigrant voters by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, which liberal groups have strongly opposed.

"The only thing that we've seen that ever resembles fraud -- and we don't know how much has been there -- has been with Strategic Allied Consulting," says Dumm.

Luis Toro, director of advocacy group Colorado Ethics Watch, says that, in general, voters should not rely on canvassers collecting mail-in ballots or claiming to be there to sign up voters to receive mail-in ballots.

"I would not fill out a form and give it to them," says Toro, who helped uncover the investigation in Colorado around the former Strategic Allied employee, though he has not looked into PinPoint. "I would be nervous. Frankly, if someone showed up at my door and asked me to fill out a mail ballot request, I'd tell them no or I would get in touch with my county clerk...not a middle man."

More from our Politics archive: "Scott Gessler won't intimidate us on election day, Latino groups say"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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