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GOP Lawyer Says Intent Was To Investigate ACORN, Not Scare Voters

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
       Republican attorney Pat Rogers hired a former FBI agent to investigate ACORN for a possible lawsuit — not because he wanted to intimidate voters, his attorneys argued in court Monday.
    But a 67-year-old woman suing Rogers said the investigator's visit to her home certainly left her feeling intimidated.
    The woman, Dora Escobedo, spent an hour testifying in federal court late Monday in a hearing that stretched past sundown.
    Judge William P. Johnson is considering a motion by Escobedo and another plaintiff for a temporary restraining order. They are asking the judge to prohibit Rogers and a private investigator, Al Romero, from intimidating voters or challenging the legitimacy of ballots cast by Escobedo and another plaintiff, Lydia Olivarez.
    Johnson skeptically questioned the plaintiffs' attorneys late Monday but didn't issue a ruling. Instead, he said the case will continue this morning.
    Escobedo, speaking in Spanish, said Romero visited her home last month, questioned her registration as a voter and raised the possibility that immigration authorities might come.
    "He not only threatened me, but he made fun of me," she said.
    Romero's attorney, Paul Kennedy, said his client didn't threaten Escobedo or anything like that. In fact, Romero had good reason to visit Escobedo, because her voter-registration card contained discrepancies, Kennedy said.
    Rogers' attorney, Jason Bowles, meanwhile, said his client was conducting a legitimate investigation for a possible lawsuit focusing on suspicious voter-registration cards turned in by ACORN, a nonprofit advocacy group.
    After the hearing, Rogers told reporters that in 2004, Democratic operatives were instructed to raise the issue of voter intimidation, even if no signs of intimidation had emerged. "This (lawsuit) is clearly a strategy to distract Republican lawyers from the duty at hand, which is getting out the vote," he said.