WATERLOO | Eight Waterloo residents were recently charged with election misconduct, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office announced Wednesday.
The Waterloo residents are accused of voting in the 2012 general election while being felons who have not had their voting rights restored.
“Every vote can make a big difference, and Iowans expect nothing less than fair and honest elections,” Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said in a release.
He also extended his thanks to Black Hawk County Attorney Tom Ferguson for “taking election integrity seriously.”
David Goodson of Waterloo, an area voting rights activist, did not even need to see the news release to question the motives of the Iowa Secretary of State.
“The secretary of state is simply engaging in voter intimidation,” Goodson said upon learning about the eight felony charges in Waterloo. “That’s the game of politics he’s playing.”
The eight charges in Black Hawk County were for election misconduct in the first-degree, a Class D felony, and filed against Waterloo residents who range in age from 25 to 56. They include some who were involved in high-profile cases in the past.
They are listed below with the felony convictions they were on probation or parole for at the time they cast their vote:
- Robert Earl Anthony, 56, was convicted of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (crack) Nov. 8, 2010. Anthony also was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 1974 stabbing death of fellow East High School student Jeffrey Bawek. Anthony, 17 at the time, was sentenced to 50 years. He was released from prison when he was 24.
- Ricco Terrell Cooper, 39, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) June 28, 2010. Cooper was convicted of child endangerment causing serious injury in 1999 for submerging an 18-month-old boy in scalding bath water, intentionally burning the boy.
- Harold Redd Jr., 48, was convicted for failure to register as a sex offender, second offense, Nov. 5, 2010. Redd was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 1991 in Butler County.
- Michelle Lee Bruno, 39, was convicted of forgery March 31, 2009.
- Anthony Mario Greer, 25, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) Feb. 18, 2011.
- Rosa Lee Wilder, 49, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), third offense, Jan. 16, 2009.
- Glenn Alan Tank, 42, was convicted for possession of a firearm as a felon March 25, 2010.
- Philip Michael Thomas, 29, was convicted of second-degree theft Nov.
- 10, 2010.
The release also notes that perjury charges were filed against a Lee County resident who voted in the 2013 city election while being a felon who had not had her voting rights restored.
The election misconduct charges were filed Jan. 13. The alleged voters are being notified of the charges by summonses delivered by sheriff’s deputies.
Initial appearances in court are scheduled for Feb. 6.
Ferguson had little to say about the pending cases.
“I can’t comment on these cases while the case is pending, ethically,” Ferguson said. “Once the cases are filed, I’m bound not to comment on them.”
Ferguson said the cases were referred by the commissioner of elections and were referred on to the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, which partnered with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations to determine whether charges were warranted.
Kyle Jensson, Black Hawk County election manager, said the eight cases were a result of a post-election process that is supposed to be followed in each county after each election.
She said people who registered in a process known as election-day registration are allowed to vote, but following the election the office reviews those cases to ensure the people are who they claim to be and are legally allowed to vote.
Those eight cases popped up as potential red flags in January 2013 and were sent on to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office and the Black Hawk County Attorney’s Office.
Jensson said 2,719 people in Black Hawk County took advantage of the election-day registration in the 2012 election, and each case is reviewed before the individual is sent a voter registration card, unless they are found to be a “potential felon.”
Goodson said he worked to restore the voting rights of felons under then-Gov. Tom Vilsack, and he’s not giving up despite Schultz’s push to crack down on cases of voter fraud.
In 2002, then-Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack restored Goodson's full citizenship rights --- including his right to vote and hold office --- which he had lost as result of a 1992 felony drug conviction, for which he received a 15-year suspended prison sentence and five years' probation.
At the start of his current term in January 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order rescinding action in July 2005 by Vilsack that established a process to restore voting rights and right to hold public office to felons and those who committed aggravated misdemeanors.
In its place, Iowans who have been convicted of a felony have to once more fill out paperwork that Goodson describes as “lengthy” to request that the governor restore their voting rights.
Goodson said the secretary’s actions intimidate those who are unsure of whether they’re legally allowed to vote, either because they’ve made the request or believe it has been granted but don’t have a certificate confirming the approval.
Schultz, who is running for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd District, has spent his tenure in the secretary of state’s office on voter fraud issues and has urged the Legislature to adopt voter identification laws.
Schultz has come under fire for spending federal money to hire agents from the state Division of Criminal Investigation to examine potential voter fraud.
Critics say there is little voter fraud in the state and the money is being spent improperly. But Schultz has said the expenditures are valid because of the need for clean elections.
Ed Tibbetts with Courier Lee News Service contributed to this report.