September 28, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: GOP-linked voter drive under scrutiny

From Wire Reports

Washington – The Republican National Committee has abruptly dropped ties to a company running a major get-out-the-vote effort in seven swing states after Florida prosecutors launched an investigation into possible fraud in voter-registration forms.

Working through state parties, the RNC has sent more than $3.1 million this year to Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona political consultant. Sproul has operated other companies that have been accused in past elections of improprieties designed to help Republican candidates, including dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats. None of those allegations led to criminal charges.

Strategic Allied Consulting was hired to do voter-registration drives in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, and had been planning get-out-the-vote drives in Ohio and Wisconsin, according to Sproul. Lincoln Strategy Group, another Sproul company, was paid about $70,000 by the Mitt Romney campaign during the primaries to gather signatures.

In Florida’s Palm Beach County, election officials turned over 106 forms to prosecutors after discovering forgeries and other problems. Officials in other counties are now reviewing voter registration forms turned in by the state GOP.

Actor dead in apparent murder-suicide

Los Angeles – An actor whose character died a violent death on the TV drama “Sons of Anarchy” plunged to his death in a driveway after apparently killing his landlady and attacking neighbors near Hollywood, police said Thursday.

Johnny Lewis, who played Kip “Half-Sack” Epps in the FX show, is the only suspect in the death of 81-year-old Catherine Davis, according to Los Angeles police.

Authorities found them dead Wednesday morning after neighbors reported a woman screaming inside the home, Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

Lewis’ death ended in a turbulent nearly 10-month span during which he was repeatedly arrested and officials expressed concerns about his mental health and the danger he posed to others.

The home where Davis was found had been ransacked, glass was shattered and a dead cat was found.

Neighbors said a man had jumped a fence and assaulted a painter and homeowner next door.

The body of Lewis, 28, was found in the driveway. He could have jumped or fallen from the roof, garage or balcony, or tumbled down stairs from a patio area, Smith said.

It appears Davis had been beaten, Smith added.

Because of the circumstances, investigators were checking whether Lewis was on drugs or had mental health issues, Smith said.

San Diego makes desalinated water deal

San Diego – The San Diego County Water Authority announced a tentative agreement Thursday to buy the entire output of what will be the Western hemisphere’s largest seawater desalination plant, clearing a major hurdle for construction to begin.

The plant in Carlsbad will produce 50 million gallons a day, enough to supply about 7 percent of the San Diego region in 2020.

The agreement is subject to approval by the water authority board. Upon the board’s approval, the developer – Poseidon Resources LLC – would sell bonds to finance 82 percent of the project, which is estimated to cost about $900 million to build.

The water authority expects the plant in the north San Diego suburb and a 10-mile pipeline to be completed in 2016.

Under the pact, San Diego would pay Poseidon $2,042 to $2,290 for an acre-foot of water, more than twice what it pays to buy water from outside the region. For supporters, the premium is well worth the price to make the region less dependent on imported water from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplied almost all its water in the early 1990s and still provides nearly half.

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