GOP Lawyer: Not So Fast on Franken Win

Monday, 05 Jan 2009 07:54 PM

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Al Franken cannot yet legally be named the winner of Minnesota's troubled senatorial contest despite the swell of partisan support pushing to end election challenges and seat the former Saturday Night Live comic, according to the head of the nation's largest organization of Republican lawyers.

Michael B. Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association, tells Newsmax' Ashley Martella in an exclusive video interview that Minnesota's recount efforts have been "consistently inconsistent" and plagued by "outright fraud." As a result, it will require court intervention to sort out the election mess and determine a certifiable candidate, he adds.

[To hear the interview with the head of the Republican National Lawyers Association - Go Here Now]

Thielen criticized Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, saying he'd joined forces with Franken against Republican challenger Norm Coleman and "disenfranchised many of Minnesota's voters."

"Ritchie was consistently inconsistent," Thielen tells Newsmax. "On the outright fraud level, there were ballots where Coleman voters filled in the circle and put an 'X' over it, and others where Franken voters did the same thing."

"The canvassing board ruled the intent of the Franken voters was to vote for Franken, but the intent of Coleman voters was to cancel their vote," he says. "It's clear evidence that they were not following the same standards for all voters."

Thielen says the state supreme court essentially forfeited jurisdiction in the matter and "punted [the case] down the field to a trial court to decide at a later date."

Until that happens, efforts by partisan stalwarts such as New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer to seat Franken cannot proceed.

"[Schumer] is completely and utterly wrong," Thielen says. "Minnesota law says an election cannot be certified until all election contests are complete. Schumer is trying to seat a person who has not been certified by the state of Minnesota as the winner of the Senate seat."

Thielen noted the irony that Democrats are trying to rush Franken into the senate even as they work to keep Illinois' Roland Burris from being sworn in. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid has said he won't seat Burris, who was appointed by scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich, because the appointment has not been certified by the secretary of state.

"In Minnesota, we have the exact same situation," Thielen says. "The secretary of state is saying Franken is the winner, But the governor has not signed off on it, nor can it be certified until the court contests are done."

[To hear the interview with the head of the Republican National Lawyers Association - Go Here Now]

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