House Democrats on Friday amplified their pressure on the national Republican Party to come clean with its ties to operatives accused of election fraud.
Republicans for years have warned that voting fraud is frequent and Democrats are benefiting from it, but recent fraud allegations against GOP operatives in Florida and Virginia have undermined at least the second half of that argument.
“These facts are all deeply troubling. Less than three weeks before Election Day, individuals connected to a major political party stand accused of malicious and felonious interference with the electoral process," Gonzalez said in a statement.
"We know of hundreds of suspicious registration forms. We know of attempts to destroy legitimate registration forms. We do not know how many other misdeeds remain to be discovered," he added. “The Republican National Committee needs to act and to do so promptly."
The GOP's fraud troubles began last month, when Florida prosecutors launched a probe into hundreds of suspicious voter registration forms submitted by workers at a GOP consulting firm, Strategic Allied Consulting. The company, run by veteran GOP operative Nathan Sproul, was paid millions of dollars by the Republican Party this year to spearhead voter registration efforts in battleground states.
The RNC cut ties to the firm shortly afterwards, saying the episode was an anomaly.
The troubles continued Thursday when Virginia police charged a Pennsylvania man, Colin Small, with 13 counts of voter fraud for allegedly tossing registration forms into a Dumpster in Harrisonburg, Va.
Small, a former intern for Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), describes himself as a "grassroots field director at [the] Republican National Committee," according to his LinkedIn profile.
But the Rockingham County Sheriff's office released a statement saying Small was a voter registration supervisor working for Pinpoint, a private contractor hired by the Virginia Republican Party.
"There is no indication that this activity was widespread in our jurisdiction," Sheriff Bryan F. Hutcheson said. "It appears to be very limited in nature."
NBC News reported Thursday that Sproul's Strategic Allied Consulting had also hired Pinpoint to perform payroll services.
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said Small "is not nor has ever been an employee" of the RNC.
Spicer also rejected the notion that the episode is evidence of any broader problem, characterizing Small as "one individual" who may have broken the law.
"He was fired and now he's being prosecuted. That's how the system works," Spicer said. "We have a zero tolerance for even the mere allegation of impropriety."
Pat Mullins, chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, issued a statement saying Small's alleged actions were "a direct contradiction of both his training and explicit instructions given to him."
"The individual in question was fired immediately," Mullins said.
Kelly spokeswoman Julia Thornton confirmed that Small had interned for the freshman lawmaker, an unpaid position that spanned from September to December of 2011.
"He left on good terms and in good standing," Thornton said Friday in an email.
Tina Loker, a spokeswoman for the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department, said Small was released Thursday on a $30,000 secured bond.
The issue of voter fraud has loomed large this campaign season, as a number of states have installed tougher voting restrictions — championed mostly by Republican legislatures — in the name of keeping the elections honest. Supporters of those efforts say the tougher rules, including new photo ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements, are designed simply to prevent ineligible people from voting. Critics counter that the higher hurdles will prevent poor people and minorities — two groups that tend to vote Democratic — from casting a ballot.
Courts in several states, including Ohio and Florida, have shot down the new restrictions, ensuring they won't be in place this year but also setting the stage for more litigation to come.
Democrats contend the recent allegations in Florida and Virginia are evidence that GOP operatives would stoop to any level to win the election for the Republicans.
Gonzalez said Friday that Small's arrest — combined with the network of contracts linking Small, Sproul and the Republican Party — is evidence that the RNC needs to do more to root out voter fraud in its ranks.
"By choosing to affiliate with a man with Nathan Sproul’s reputation, the RNC has forfeit any benefit of the doubt in such matters," he said. "Only complete disclosure can adequately address this situation."
Updated at 3:45 p.m.