On the October 30 edition of CNN's The Capital Gang, panelist Robert D. Novak claimed that "the Indians stole the election" for U.S. Senate in South Dakota in 2002. As Media Matters for America has noted, South Dakota's attorney general -- a Republican -- dismissed allegations of election fraud after incumbent U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) narrowly defeated his challenger, U.S. Representative John Thune (R-SD) and called the affidavits that supported the Republican charges "flat false."
This is the third time Novak has made the discredited allegation. In January, Novak drew fire from South Dakota's Republican governor, the chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, and the manager of Thune's 2004 Senate campaign for making similar claims. On the January 6 edition of CNN's Crossfire, Novak stated that South Dakota's 2002 U.S. Senate "election was stolen by stuffing ballot boxes on Indian reservations" and admitted to calling Native Americans "election thieves".
According to a January 8 report in the Rapid City Journal, when South Dakota's Republican Governor Mike Rounds was "asked whether he found Novak's statements offensive, Rounds replied, 'I find it ignorant.'" Thune's campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, stated, "Robert Novak's comments were inappropriate and certainly do not reflect John Thune's commitment to work hard for the Native American vote in 2004." Wadhams also said that Novak's "accusation overall is just off the mark." State GOP Chairman Randy Frederick called Novak's statements "appalling" and "insane."
Novak also made this phony charge on the December 13, 2003, edition of CNN's Capital Gang, when he stated that the 2002 U.S. Senate election in South Dakota "was probably stolen, for all we know. ... The Indians, they got the phony Indian votes out there."
The discredited allegations Novak has repeatedly mentioned have also been forwarded by National Review White House correspondent Byron York and by Wall Street Journal op-ed columnist and author John Fund in his recent book, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Democracy (Encounter Books, September 2004).