Using a comical, pugnacious prose style that combines the best of Jimmy Breslin and Mickey Spillane, acclaimed investigative reporter Greg Palast, author of the bestselling The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, takes on the big money interests financing—and in his view stealing—the American presidential election in his new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Ways, a book that is part political expose and part grassroots political uprising. The book will be published in September by Seven Stories Press, accompanied by a massive marketing and promotional effort that combines everything from a book tour and social media campaign to active support from more than 150 social organizations, political activists and media outlets.
In his new book Palast contends that a close presidential election this year may come down to a handful of states whose election results could very well be manipulated. The book, which has an introduction by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who has teamed with Palast in the past to cover vote suppression, will also include a 50 page graphic nonfiction treatment by award-winning comics journalist Ted Rall, that will also outline “how the big money steals elections,” according Palast. The comic will be in full color in the e-book version of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.
In an interview at the PW offices, Palast--dressed like a reporter from central casting in a retro snap brim fedora, gabardine suit and loosened tie—and Seven Stories Press publisher Dan Simon outlined Palast’s new broadside against the voter suppression tactics he charges are being perpetuated by the huge financial interests bankrolling the Republican Party. In this new book Palast, a much praised reporter for the BBC and the Guardian who specializes in reporting on voter fraud and the complex mixture of political power, oil money and global financing behind it, takes up where he left off in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, his 2003 look at the election of George Bush.
Palast told PW he’s spent “15 years on the election beat,” reporting on voter disenfranchisement. In 2008 he released a print and downloadable comic book, Steal Back Your Vote, written with Robert Kennedy Jr., published by Top Shelf and offered for $5 which sold more than 100,000 copies in print and digital. He used the money to start The Palast Investivative Fund. Palast and Seven Stories outlined a marketing and promotional campaign for the book that rivals any political campaign. Palast says he’s “giving up my six figure advances” to go with Seven Stories because, “we needed a publisher that can be light on their feet, and understand our crazy nonprofit marketing.”
All proceeds from the book will go to the Palast Investigative Fund to support further investigation into voter suppression. He said he will be hyping the book “from Harpers to Hustler,” including a massive website (ballotbandits.org) and social media; they’re enlisting the aid of well over a 150 grassroots organizations registering people to vote, among them Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH, environmentalists, Pacifica Radio, celebritites from Hollywood, media and music and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
There’s more: a $50,000 print ad campaign in The Nation, Mother Jones and many other publications, in addition to a six-part video documentary on the book distributed on Democracy Now, CurrentTV and other outlets with the expectation that it will go viral. The list of supporters and resources is more extensive than can be listed here. “We’ve got books, comic books, e-books, links and websites,” Palast said, “this is a movement as much as it is a book.”
Palast said “money is pouring into this election at unprecedented levels but we don’t know what the campaigns are doing with it. This book will make people angry. It’s not abstract.” He said, “The same people who won’t raise the minimum wage are counting on people not voting. This election will turn on who can block the most voters,” adding that, “I go after the New York Times too. I’ve got a big Tea Party grassroots following and the plutocrats are stealing their votes too. They’re going to love this book.”
In Billionaires and Bandits, Palast will expose what he says are an expanded group of billionaire political financiers along the line of the Koch brothers, the notorious conservative political financiers, who in his words plan on “stealing the election. We’re going to expose how they get their money and what they’re doing. How they steal your vote using massive databases. I go after all of them.” Calling it “class warfare by other means,” Palast said the book will expose the 9 ways these men will steal the coming election, primarily, he said, by “racial disenfranchisement,” by illegally bankrolling the suppression of the vote of blacks and Hispanics throughout the country.
“Purging, caging, spoiling, blocking, ejecting, tossing, prestidigitising and stuffing,” said Seven Seas publisher Dan Simon, counting off the illicit strategies for supressing votes outlined in the book. It’s a complex story that not only looks at conservative Republicans looking to elect their own political agenda, but also at the ways sovereign international debt has been manipulated by a couterie of transnational billionaires and its likely impact on the reelection, or not, of Barack Obama. If that all sounds like a wacky conspiracy theory, Palast’s impressive research, wide ranging sources and accessible and entertaining style of news writing just may convince the reader otherwise.