Just before the 2012 presidential election, Bob Hiering received a curious letter in the mail.
It was labeled with the logos of the supervisor of elections office in his county and “questioning my citizenship and my ability to vote,” he told WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The letter also asked him to provide personal information to elections officials or be disqualified from voting altogether.
But the Republican from Delray Beach noticed another oddity: The envelope’s postmark was from Seattle, Washington.
Hiering alerted authorities about the letter he received…and it seems he wasn’t alone. Turns out approximately two hundred of his fellow Florida residents — all with ties to the Republican party — got those letters.
Soon state and federal agencies were looking into possible voter fraud in Palm Beach County, and now it looks they got the guy behind the fraudulent letters.
More from WPTV:
James Webb Baker, Jr., 58, of Seattle, Washington recently admitted to federal investigators that he was behind all of it. Baker told the U.S. Department of Justice that he was angered by what he believed was an attempt to suppress Hispanic voter turnout for Democratic party candidates. Baker said he created the fake voter eligibility letters to intimidate and interfere with GOP recipients’ right to vote.
Baker pleaded guilty to I.D. fraud and intimidation of voters; he faces a maximum of six years in prison and up to $350,000 in fines, WPTV reported, adding that a judge will sentence him in September.
“We’re fighting the fraud wherever we find it,” said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “This is an extremely serious crime. This is a federal offense and the Department of Justice was quick to react.”
Hiering, as you might imagine, wasn’t scared into staying away from the polls in 2012: “When I got that letter, I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’”
But at the same time, he wonders if other Republicans were dissuaded by Baker’s actions.
“God knows how many people got letters and said, ‘I guess I can’t vote’ and just didn’t vote because they didn’t want to go through the hassle,” he noted to WPTV. “And that’s probably what his goal was.”
“It’s a major violation of our Constitution and of our rights in this country,” Hiering added. “You shouldn’t be able to get away with that.”