At least six people working on a contract won by a public relations firm to educate Pennsylvania voters on the state’s new voter ID law have previously worked for Republican officials.
According to the biographies included with the Bravo Group’s proposal (obtained by TPM through a public information request), Chris Bravacos “helped rebuild the Republican Party in the early 1990s,” Topper Ray served as a press aide to President George H.W. Bush, Jennifer Riley “worked for the Bush/Cheney 2005 [sic] campaign,” Matt Crocco worked on former Gov. Tom Ridge’s campaign, Sean Connolly worked as a spokesman for two Republican attorneys general and Otto Banks served as a Bush White House appointee and consultant to the Republican state committee.
Ten percent of Bravo Group’s $249,660 contract will be subcontracted out to Skylar Group LLC, which has been designated as a “Minority Business Enterprise” by the state of Pennsylvania. The Skylar Group is owned by Banks, who served as deputy assistant secretary for economic development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Bush administration. The company will provide outreach to African American and Latino communities as well as translation services, according to the proposal.
The Bravo Group said in its proposal that its public relations campaign would specially focus on “populations that may not have an ID – young people, senior citizens and minorities.” The Bravo Group competed with three other public relations companies — Partnership of Packer, Osterling & Smith Inc.; Tierney & Partners, Inc. and Pavone — for the contract.
Bravo Group planned on partnering with various “local and regional minority organizations” to spread information about the new law and said “[w]ord of mouth information from trusted minority community leaders is the most effective way to reach the entire minority voting age population.”
Also in their plans: Holding editorial board meetings with minority media outlets to “discuss voter education campaign and encourage positive/neutral earned media on the voter ID requirement.” They would also partner with “Black/Hispanic radio DJs & TV personalities” and hold major community events in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, Allenton and Erie.
The group recommended offering free rides to local PennDOT Driver’s Licensing Centers once a month and partnering with United Ways, senior centers, colleges and universities, members of the general assembly, physicians, newspaper association, churches, social security officies, public transit systems, YMCAs, dental associations and community health centers.
Pennsylvania recently admitted that over 750,000 voters (or over 9 percent of registered voters) lack state-issued identification, a statistic that has Democratic officials pretty worried. One Republican leader in the state has already bragged that the law will help presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney win the Keystone State.
Update: the full proposal is embedded below.