Wellstone Accused of Voter Fraud, Threatened with Death, Day before His Plane Crash

There’s absolutely no reason to think that the barely literate postcard sent to Paul Wellstone’s office the day before his plane crash had anything to do with his death.

The FBI files [released in FOIA to Minnesota Public Radio] reveal, for the first time, the specific criminal leads pursued by investigators.

FBI agents investigated the claims of a caller from Jacksonville, Florida, who said that members of the American Trucking Association had planned to disconnect the plane’s de-icers. The man said that Wellstone had been trying to schedule Senate hearings to expose organized crime in the trucking industry. In response to the call, a Wellstone staff member asked a Labor Committee member and a legislative director “who both indicated that they were not aware of any Senate hearing being scheduled to discuss this topic.” The rest of the document has been redacted.

Agents also obtained a threatening postcard sent to Wellstone’s St. Paul office the day before the plane crash. The handwritten postcard said, in part, “We need to gut (sic) the word out for the snipper (sic) to go after people like you, not real Americans … This voter fraud you propose will get you dead.”

After all, the FBI investigated the threat.

But I think it worth calling attention to the postcard because it’s the of the kind of violence Republican myths about voter fraud elicit. I can’t make out the whole postcard, [updated w/isis’ and scribe’s suggestions] It reads at least in part, [see PDF 6]

We know your system for voters. It won’t work. You have been targeted. We need to gut [sic] the word out for the snipper [sic] to go after people like you, not real Americans. This card is for you pimps [perps?] to read “Dead Man Walking!” I have cousin at UMN Inside info this voter fraud you propose will get you dead. MC2

The GOP’s sustained effort to accuse those who mobilize Democratic constituencies — as Wellstone did better than anyone — of vote fraud is designed not just to delegitimize both big-D and small-D democracy, but also to elicit this kind of tribalistic hatred.

  1. Phoenix Woman says:

    The sadness of losing Paul and Sheila in that plane crash was amplified by the hideous use Trent Lott and his GOP/Media pals made of it.

    Trent Lott would go on, a few weeks later, to talk up Strom Thurmond as someone who should have been president instead of Harry Truman, and it took all the efforts of the embryonic reality-based blogging community to get the MSM to notice — and then it wasn’t until Karl Rove realized he could use this to ditch Lott (who, bigot though he is, was too unimpressed with the unitary executive for Rove’s tastes) and replace him with the gofer Frist.

    • PeasantParty says:

      PW, I remember that clearly. I also laughed hard when Katrina took Lott’s mansion and his Insurance dealings caused him not to be able to cash in. He went to court to challenge it! The IDIOT!

    • JohnEmerson says:

      Wellstone’s death and the Republican media assassination that followed were the worst days of my life. There’s been no apology from anyone.

  2. manys says:

    Hah, I was just thinking the same thing when I read about Michelle Malkin saying that “we are all voter fraud police now.” That’s all we need, random people thinking it’s their job to figure out who should be voting.

  3. scribe says:

    After taking a few to read the postcard, I come up with the following on the illegible words:

    We know your system for voters. It won’t work. You have been targeted. We need to gut [sic] the word out for the snipper [sic] to go after people like you, not real Americans. This card is for you pimps [illegible] to read “Dead Man Walking!” I have cousin at U. Mpls [illegible] Inside info this voter fraud you propose will get you dead. MC2 [illegible]

    Not suprising, and casts a new light on those anti-ACORN types making their videos, too.

  4. lsls says:

    I believe the card reads:

    “We know your system for voters. It won’t work. You have been targeted. We need to get the word out for the snippers (?) to go after people like you not real Americans. This card is for your pimps to read “Dead man walking!” I have cousin @ U.MN. Inside info. This voter fraud you propose will get you dead. MC 2″(don’t know of MC 2 is scribble or signature or what)

    • thatvisionthing says:

      pimps or perps? MC2 looks like MC squared. (Einstein?) And I agree, U Mpls. U of M at Mpls? Is there a University of Minneapolis?

      • lsls says:

        Yes. “you perps” looks right. As in “get”, the writer slants the “E” and the writer’s “u”s are without a tail in other words. There is only a University of Minnesota and at the end it looks like MC squared. “have cousin” sounds foreign or just left out “a”. I’m not sure of the “snipper(s)..if correct, sounds foreign. I even thought it could be “supers”..like superintendent of building or something.

  5. lsls says:

    There is writing by someone…FBI?…that other senators had received similar letters and it also relates to the Iraq war resolution noting votes against it.

    If snippers isn’t snippers…could this be a warning note to Wellstone from a foreigner, e.g., someone from Iraq? Or, a warning from someone wanting the resolution to pass and therefore sending threatening notes out to scare senators…The note itself indicates that the writer thinks the voting is somehow rigged. (how surprising /s)

    Hey, is that Cheney’s writing?

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s “sniper”. The dot is right above the ‘i’. The n’s in other words (like “been” and “man”) look similar. But I cannot be absolutely sure.

      It is, though, a clear death threat, although the use of the term “inside information” makes it look like a warning, which is something more.

      • MadDog says:

        OT for you (and anyone else interested) – As I mentioned to EW (via email) earlier today, the Iraq War Logs are now available from some of the reliable file hosters (as opposed to virus and trojan-plagued bitTorrent systems).

        Folks can now download a CSV (comma-separated values) version of the Iraq War Logs. That means you can open the file directly in Microsoft Excel.

        A couple of bits of advice first for the adventurous who are willing to do so:

        The file is 354 MB in size, so it is darn big. I opened it on my Windows 7 system which has 8 GB of RAM, and in Excel from Office 10. Still slow to traverse the file for searches even with 8 GB of RAM.

        It took me about 45 minutes to download the file from the file hoster I chose (Hotfile). It was downloading at only about 128 Kbps, and I have a Comcast Internet connection that generally tests out at 25 Mbps over at Speakeasy’s Speed Test. Oh well. *g*

        Some of the other file hosters listed below may give better or worse download speeds for the Iraq War Logs file, so caveat emptor.

        Link to Iraq War Logs CSV file at Hotfile.

        Link to Iraq War Logs CSV file at Uploading.

        Link to Iraq War Logs CSV file at Filesonic.

        Link to Iraq War Logs CSV file at Fileserve.

      • qweryous says:

        Look at words known to contain an i, many (not all) have the dot above offset to the right so it is above the following letter.

        Pimps,cousin, will(next to last line) and snip(p)er.

        Note the lower case n elsewhere in the document- know ,inside, info, cousin,, americans, sniper, and(less prominently) been.

        Do not see a single instance where the lower case n looks such that in the word sniper there is only one p and an i to the left of the more prominent p, with the dot then directly above what would be the i in sniper.

        If the dot is directly above the i in sniper, this would be the most indistinct i in the document, the dot directly above the i is also not seen elsewhere.

        In addition there are significant number of instances of i without the dot above. Either lower and upper case are mixed or ?

        This is however a rather poor quality document to be looking at.

        The real questions-did the writer intend to deceive, or does the degradation in document quality obscure this determination.

        • qweryous says:

          No edit. By the time it starts working I will no longer rely on it.

          No doubt about the threatening/warning nature no matter what the word in question is. I think its snipper but the why doesn’t seem answerable based on what is here to see.

  6. Margaret says:

    The chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association just said that he expects an “epidemic” of voter fraud. And so the narrative is set. Now that they have failed to keep left leaning voters home, it’s now going to become a case of “voter fraud” for every Democratic seat that Republicans expected to pick up. This is quite likely to lead to some widespread violence folks. If it does, we can only hope that the spineless Democrats take the f*cking gloves off and finally start taking these threats seriously!

      • Margaret says:

        Exactly. “Voter fraud” was just the usual background noise until a couple of weeks ago and it became obvious that the “Democrats are doomed” narrative seemed likely to keep voters home, now it’s suddenly an “epidemic”.

        • ThingsComeUndone says:

          the “Democrats are doomed” narrative seemed likely to keep voters home, now it’s suddenly an “epidemic”.

          The GOP’s worried that over confident GOPers will stay home on election day? That would be funny:) Of course I expect the GOP to blame it on voter fraud but will they bother with court challenges another Al Franken count every vote court case could suck.

        • Margaret says:

          Let me try that again since the edit button is still off: “Voter fraud” was just the usual background noise when it seemed like the “Democrats are doomed” narrative was likely to keep voters home. Since a couple of weeks ago when it became obvious that it’s not working, suddenly voter fraud is “epidemic”.

          Better? :)

          • ThingsComeUndone says:

            Since a couple of weeks ago when it became obvious that it’s not working, suddenly voter fraud is “epidemic”.

            I think the GOP is being hoisted on their own petard Hispanic voters are scared of AZ and will vote. Gays are pissed and will vote, the unemployed and people fighting to stay in their homes don’t want the party of lets cut unemployment benefits, end the minimum wage, lets bailout the banks but not help home owners win this election.

          • hackworth1 says:

            JEB stopped voter fraud in Florida 2000 with Police Roadside Vehicle Inspections on election day.

            JEB later promised not to do that again.

      • nahant says:

        But this is what they Always do. Just do a little looking. The Pukes know that if all the “Little People” vote they will lose!

    • strangelyenough says:

      we can only hope that the spineless Democrats take the f*cking gloves off and finally start taking these threats seriously!

      By defunding/denouncing someone for registering poor people to vote, I would assume. What you’re suggesting isn’t bipartisan enough…

  7. Palli says:

    1.) When was the investigation initiated? 2.) At what time was it deemed inconclusive or a “run of the mill” threat?
    It is all by design.

      • Palli says:

        Without a doubt, a couple of planes have fallen from the sky over Rove: but the death of a national leader is not a smokescreen, it is murder.
        Smoke screens are things like puffing up Teabaggers into a “movement”, “pimping” in Acorn offices, “hiring” weak candidates to run for elected office…

        There are American political operatives and ‘regular’ citizens out there who are small and large parts of this ongoing conspiracy against democracy. If the FBI tried, they would find some of them

  8. Jessabrams says:

    Everybody, if Wellstone was taken out by U.S. Intelligence, wouldn’t they make sure letters like this existed, in case the operation went wrong and they needed to come up with a patsy real quick

    Anybody remember the Anthrax letters

    “Allah is Great” etc

    They were fake and diversionary.

    Of the multiple government documents connecting GHWB to the JFK assasination, one of them was an FBI document citing a phone call Bush made to the agency expressing his belief that a young right winger he knew might have been responsible for the assasination. The call also served the purpose of placing Bush in Terry, Texas, far away from the scene.

    And remember Atta’s luggage was the only bag to miss the flight, and contained his AQ training manual, flight instruction manual, and Koran. How tidy…

  9. onitgoes says:

    Voter fraud is the default excuse for the GOP should the GOP not do as well as they expect/predict/want/pay for. GOP losses or less than stellar wins is never the fault of how pathetic & corporatist GOP politicians are, or their “just say no” obstructionism & paucity of any ideas, or the crazed whackloon dumbos they buy-off as let’s-pretend-they’re-populists T-bagger “candidates,” who should be an embarressment to any thoughtful human being.

      • onitgoes says:

        Well I’ve certainly always known that Diebold was a much bigger threat in terms of voter fraud or vote rigging, than ACORN was or ever would have been.

        Anyone who believes those touch screen machines aren’t rigged listens to Rush Limbaugh too much. I would insist on a paper ballot, even though that could be tossed out or otherwise “lost.” At least there’s a fighting chance that a paper ballot will get counted correctly.

  10. Palli says:

    America could have had different history. We all know woo benefited. Follow the power grab. Follow the money.

  11. victortruex says:

    If Wellstone was murdered it was more likely done by real pros employed by one of our mega-corps (ex-CIA/military) or working directly for the CIA. And BTW, isn’t Erik Prince’s family originally from someplace up in the upper Great Lakes region — Wisc? Mich? Minn?

  12. cregan says:

    While there are lots of argument to be made on voter fraud, etc. in all directions, I think you are going a bridge too far in this post Empty.

    A sad day when Wellstone died in a plane crash, but 99% probability it had nothing to do with voter fraud, postcards or anything else nefarious.

    It is possible the post card came from one of those big foreign donors to the Chamber of Commerce campaign funds. Axlerod had the goods on that caper too.

    • emptywheel says:

      Uh, as I noted, there’s no reason to think there’s a connection. I’m making a connection between the completely baseless claims of voter fraud the GOP likes to make (in spite of the fact that GOP operatives are the only ones convicted of late) and the associated tribalism and claims to illegitimacy they produce.

      • jdmckay0 says:

        I’m making a connection between the completely baseless claims of voter fraud the GOP likes to make


        there’s no reason to think there’s a connection.

        I’m not convinced of that myself.

        These bastards go for the jugular when they want something, demonstrated over & over.

        It’s not like there’s no evidence for suspicion, both w/this post card & past behavior. Still makes me uneasy how they could make Kerry’s VN service into Swift Boat crap. Me thinks these guys are well capable of something like Wellstone’s plane crash.

      • cregan says:

        I did see your point, I just thought it went a bit further than you normally go. Usually, you have a stack of proof and details, well laid out, when you go for something.

  13. 4cdave says:

    One of the things to watch for after the election, regardless of the outcome, is a push to eliminate mail-in voting and early voting under the guise of reducing “voter fraud”. These were effective in 2008 in boosting turn-out (and reducing voter suppression), and they want to eliminate them in time for 2012.

  14. cbl says:

    from the link

    he helped organize poor families and farmers in rural Minnesota, and was once arrested for trespassing during a foreclosure protest at a bank in 1984.

    we are truly bereft

  15. Jessabrams says:

    Bush Jr disappeared from the 2000 campaign trail for 3 days without any contact to the outside world when JFK JR’s plane crashed and the Pentagon took over the search and sent search planes a thousand miles away for over 8 hours.

    It’s like a mafia initiation or something.

  16. Jessabrams says:

    The Assasination of John Kennedy JR:


    It’s a good watch, and reveals the absurdity of the Pentagon’s response.

    He was killed, and not long after pointing out Mossad complicity in the assasination of Rabin, which is video documented.

    • PJEvans says:

      Well, skiing into a tree has killed a bunch of people in the past, few of them rich or famous, and will undoubtedly kill a bunch more in the future.

  17. BlueCrow says:

    “MC 2”

    MC-squared? Mel Carnahan – squared? Carnahan died in plane crash two years before Wellstone. Both were killed just weeks before an election in which they were candidates.

  18. rikkidoglake says:

    From the NTSB accident report:


    “Several of the airplane’s systems, including the stall warning and deicing systems, were too damaged by postimpact fire and impact forces to determine their preimpact configuration and operability.”

    “Most of the components of the deicing system were destroyed by postimpact fire.”

    “On the basis of all of this evidence, the airplane was most likely not in the cloud layer in which moderate icing was present for enough time to accumulate any significant airframe icing. Further, any icing that the airplane might have accumulated would have been shed by the deicing equipment, or it would have begun shedding off the airplane’s
    surfaces as it was descending through 5,000 feet because of the warming temperatures. In addition, the airplane’s performance was not consistent with the effects of icing, and flight simulations showed that the performance could be matched with and without simulated icing with enough reserve engine power available to increase the airspeed
    during the descent. Therefore, the Safety Board concludes that icing did not affect the airplane’s performance during the descent.”

  19. Oval12345678akaJamesKSayre says:

    After the murder of Senator Paul Wellstone in late October 2002, a special election was held in Minnesota to fill the seat. A very popular Democrat, was mysteriously defeated by a reactionary Republican. Of course, the election was run on electronic voting machines, controlled by right-wing Republicans… In Georgia, a Republican also “won” on electronic voting machines, Diebold, I believe… This is how the Republicans got their “majority” in the US Senate in 2003. Murder and election-rigging. It is a little odd that right-wing Republicans never seem to die in mysterious small plane crashes…

  20. seaglass says:

    Having gained total control of the economy these last 30 yrs. and having bought most of the MSM and neutered the Congress, it’s now the turn of the rest of the so called democracy that needs to be destroyed (or managed.) The oligarchs are working on this project as we chat.

  21. alinaustex says:

    Paul Wellstone was a true patriot.

    I hate to even conjecture that his death was anything but an accident.

    But then I think of that GOP operative that was the IT genius that allegedly fixed the code in the 2004 voting machines that made sure that Dubya took Ohio – that dude was supposedly going to repent of his sins . Wasn’t he killed in a amall plane crash too ?

    1984 knocking at our door !

  22. dustbunny44 says:

    Voter suppression is voter fraud.
    Why aren’t these bigots who block voters in low-income areas not being prosecuted, or at least confronted?
    Why aren’t pols using this as a rallying cry to bring out voters: “There are people out there trying to keep you from voting, trying to imply that you don’t have the right to vote. They will be at polling places throughout the USA looking for reasons to prevent you from voting. All across the country. This is 2010. We need all you registered voters to go out on election day and show them you aren’t intimidated, show them this is the USA and you do have the right to vote.”

  23. meg says:

    I think the “snipper” reference is about the DC sniper, who was on the loose at the same time this card was sent. Whoever wrote that post card simply can’t spell.