For sheer brass it would be hard to top Curt Pringle’s 1988 escapade in the 72nd AD where his campaign sent private security guards in blue uniforms to “supervise” voting in Hispanic precincts. The blue-uniformed guards carried signs in English and Spanish warning non-citizens not to vote, and were seen writing down voters’ license plate numbers. In some instances, the guards sat behind tables with poll workers and at least one of the guards was observed handling voters’ ballots.
Pringle was running a tight race against Democrat Christian Thierbach and in fact only won by 843 votes of the 66,831 votes cast.
Pringle consultant Carlos Rodriguez was quoted as saying, “I’m not sure we would have won” without the guards. Rodriguez, along with another Pringle consultant David Gilliard, was blamed by then-OC GOP Chairman Tom Fuentes for hiring the guards and for hiring a sign company to place signs reading “Thank You Curt Pringle” in predominantly white areas and bilingual signs saying “Non Citizens Can’t Vote” in largely Latino areas.
From the LA Times:
Until this month, Pringle had said little about the incident and dismissed it as part of his political past. When pushed about his role in the matter at a Sacramento debate earlier this month, Pringle denied that he knew or approved of the idea, and insisted that he had spoken out against it when he became aware of it.
On election day 1988, however, Pringle told reporters that he was aware that poll watchers would be used to monitor voting in his race but said he didn't know that they would be in uniform, something he said he didn't approve of.
Pringle at the time repeatedly defended poll watchers as necessary to ensure that Democrats wouldn't use illegal immigrants to stack the vote in the hotly contested race--his first. He said he was satisfied with the election's outcome and denied that his campaign or the party had done anything wrong.