GOP congressman joins trend of making up voting scandals after losing


There's no conspiracy behind Rep. Jeff Denham's loss. It's just voters ousting a Trump loyalist from office.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) is one of seven California Republicans ousted by voters in the 2018 midterm. But rather than face defeat with any bit of dignity or grace, Denham joined the GOP bandwagon of claiming some sort of nefarious "fraud" is to blame.

In an interview with MSNBC's Kasie Hunt, Denham did all he could to deny the legitimacy  of his 4-point loss to Democrat Josh Harder and insult the majority of voters, who preferred the other candidate, first by blaming "ballot harvesting" for his loss. ("Ballot harvesting is a term used to describe how citizens can have another person physically deliver their completed ballot for them. This is helpful for many citizens, including those who are elderly or dealing with a debilitating sickness.)

"Ballot harvesting is legal now in California as of this last election," Denham said. "When you can find 250,000 ballots after Election Day, you can move a lot of different seats."

In California, ballots that are mailed on Election Day are collected and counted, much to Denham's dismay. So election officials did not "find" more ballots — voters cast those ballots.

"The Republican argument is built on the keen observation that they could have won more races if only California election officials would abandon their annoying insistence on counting all the votes," chides the San Francisco Chronicle about GOP complaints.

When Hunt asked him about Trump being a contributing factor for his loss, Denham decided to act like Trump and just make things up, inventing poll numbers to bolster his case for his imaginary conspiracy theory.

"If you look at polling numbers, the president was polling almost even right before my election," Denham huffed. "We were up by 8 points," he added.

That's just not true, according to publicly available polls. The last public poll before the election, by Sienna College, showed Denham down by 2 points, nowhere near the 8-point advantage he claims. Further, it showed Trump's approval rating in the district underwater, with only 45 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving of him. In fact, FiveThirtyEight doesn't show a single poll with Denham leading.

Denham joins a growing cadre of Republicans who are hostile to the idea of democracy. Fellow California Republican Rep. Mimi Walters accused her opponent, congresswoman-elect Katie Porter, of "stealing" the election because election officials were counting all the votes.

Outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan similarly complained to the media about a "bizarre" system where all votes are counted.

Where Republicans like Denham, Walters, and Ryan will make up conspiracies about election fraud where none exist, Republicans are quiet as can be when it comes to the real election fraud happening in North Carolina.

In a House race in western North Carolina, Republican Mark Harris thought he won by about 900 votes. But an investigation has turned up massive election fraud by the Republican campaign where ballots were illegally harvested and thousands may have been destroyed rather than turned in. There are sworn affidavits from voters who claim Republican operatives took their unsealed, and possibly blank, ballots, telling the voters that the harvester would take care of it. (In North Carolina, it is illegal for a third-party to collect ballots.)

Denham's display was a pathetic combination of conspiracy-peddling and shameful lying. But as much as it may hurt Denham's fragile ego, there's no grand conspiracy; it's just  voters in a democracy deciding Denham is no longer fit to represent them in Congress. Rather than just look in the mirror and admit he failed, Denham joined a dangerous trend of Republicans seeking to undermine confidence in our election system.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.