James Webb Baker Jr., age 58, of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty on May 29, 2014 in federal court in Tampa to a two count federal charging document that alleged Baker intimidated voters, and that he committed ‘fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information.’ According to court documents, around October 1, 2012 Baker, while residing in Seattle, Washington, became aware of efforts by Florida elections officials to remove the names of persons deemed ineligible to vote. Believing this to be an attempt to suppress voter turnout for the Democratic Party by specifically targeting Hispanics, Baker devised a scheme designed to intimidate targeted Republicans in a calculated effort to suppress their vote. Baker created fictitious letters designed to mimic Florida county elections agency official letterhead. The letters authored by Baker questioned each of his victim’s eligibility to vote, and required each victim to prove their eligibility to vote in person to state elections officials, or they would lose their right to vote. Baker added a warning to the letter in bold print that stated that a ‘nonregistered voter who casts a vote may be subject to criminal sanctions.’ The court documents disclosed the fact that Baker sent the false letters to 200 Republican voters whose names he obtained from a list of people identified as donor on the Federal Elections Commission website. Baker selected individuals who contributed to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign in Florida Court records stated that Baker wore gloves, used self-adhesive stamps, and mailed the envelopes in a Federal Way, Washington postal drop box to avoid a Seattle postmark. For his crimes, Baker faces a maximum penalty of 6 years in federal prison. The FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. The U.S. Attorney in Tampa and prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division prosecuted Baker.
May 29, 2014