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Dana Milbank Takes Down the DoJ's Voting Chief With His Own Testimony from Yesterday's House Judiciary Hearing
ADDITIONAL VIDEO SPANKINGS: Reps. Davis and Ellison's Q&As in Full...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2007 1:02pm PT  

Wow. Snap. Washington Post covered yesterday's House Judiciary subcommittee hearings in two separate articles today and via one hell of an online video to boot.

Dana Milbank covered on page 2, opening with "John Tanner is one sorry man." Dan Eggen covered the "political uproar" that we kicked off here at The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago, on page 4.

But it's Milbank's online "video sketch" that cuts to the bone, offering the best first-hand encapsulated coverage of the hearings we've seen to date (far better, even, than the PBS News Hour's version last night).

Consider the following montage a "Must See!" And one that almost makes one begin to feel sorry for John "Minorities Die First" Tanner...

...We said "almost." But not by much. A reply to Tanner's testimony yesterday --- from an insider still forced to work under him at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section --- to come shortly.

In the meantime, if you've yet to see the full smack-downs that Tanner received yesterday at the hands of Reps. Artur Davis (D-AL) and then Keith Ellison (D-MN), the videos of both of those brutal Q&As are posted in full below, and are similarly "Must Sees!"...

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Faces Extremely Pointed Questions from Committee Members, Furious About Recent Comments Reported by The BRAD BLOG...
UPDATED NOW WITH VIDEO OF THE MOST CONTENTIOUS Q&A's...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2007 7:25am PT  

We're up before the West Coast dawn this morning to monitor the hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties featuring John "Minorities Die First" Tanner. His recent objectionable comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG several weeks ago.

The most objectionable of those comments including his contention that it was a "shame" that elderly voters might be disenfranchised by a 2005 Georgia Photo ID poll restriction that he approved on behalf of DoJ and against the advice of four out of five of his career staffers, minorities would somehow benefit from it. His twisted reasoning was that "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly. The way white people do. They die first."

Tanner, incredibly, is still the Chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

It's being carried live and webcast on C-Span 3, as well as via the Judiciary Committee's own webcast.

Major points in our story so far...

Beyond that, Progress Report has an excellent round up of Tanner's "Erosion of Voter Rights" during his tenure.

The hearings have now ended, but our notes from our Live-Blogging of today's hearings are below, along with video clips of the key, and most pointed exchanges...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Says John 'Minorities Die First' Tanner's Recent Remarks 'Underscore the GOP's Utter Disregard for the Integrity of our Nation's Election System'
Statement Issued in Advance of Tomorrow's U.S. House Judicary Hearings Featuring Testimony from Embattled DoJ Voting Rights Chief...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2007 12:46pm PT  

In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."

"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.

The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.

"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."

They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."

As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.

Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.

Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."

(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)

The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.

Though Tanner comments were originally video-taped and reported by The BRAD BLOG, the DNC press release credits Fox News.com (thanks guys!).

UPDATE: Tanner apologizes for remarks! Sort of...

The complete DNC statement from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile as just issued, follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Washington Post Turns to Rightwing 'Nutroots' for 'Expert' Input...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2007 2:36pm PT  

A "Game of Chicken" is how Washington Post describes the current standoff in the Senate concerning the FEC nomination of GOP "voter fraud" zealot/operative Hans von Spakovsky. The nomination is currently at a standstill, along with three other FEC nominations that Senate Republicans insist be voted on along with him, in the wake of a hold registered by Obama and Feingold.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's D-NV) incredible "deal" to slide HvS's nomination through has, for now, thankfully come to a standstill. But the resultant standoff could mean no operational FEC in 2008 as only two commissioners are currently left, and a minimum of four are needed to vote on anything.

WaPo's piece includes supportive quotes, in favor of von Spakovsky, from hard right partisan and former FEC Chair Brad Smith. Yet it fails to point out how much of a rightwing bomb-thrower Smith --- who charged in his own Redstate blog item last week that HvS is "currently under attack for being a Republican" --- actually is. Would WaPo have given such prominence to someone on the other side of the political spectrum?

You'll note, in Smith's piece, written prior to WaPo's, that he refers to Democratic "nutroots" as being responsible for the hold, along with "the campaign finance zealotry of Senator Feingold." Smith, apparently, forgot to mention that Feingold's co-sponsor on that bill was John McCain, who --- last we checked --- is a Republican.

In short, Smith argues in his Redstate diatribe, that though HvS may have participated in GOP-backed voter supression efforts when he served at the DoJ, nobody has complained about actions during his tenure over the last many months as an absentee appointee at the FEC. To which we say, yes, after the Fox has overseen the mutilation of the chickens in the Henhouse, by all means, let's elect him as chief meat inspector for the USDA.

Beyond that, and in teeing things up for this Tuesday's heaings in the House Judiciary Committee, set to star John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, the outrageously still-employed chief of the Bush DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section, Christy Hardin Smith suggests the GOP may be "throwing Tanner under the bus" in favor of von Spakovsky. She catches us up with the latest today in "Hans Down".

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Text Transcript, Video of Senate Hearings Reveal Federal Judge Less Than Concerned About Disenfranchising Poll Restriction Laws as Approved by John 'Minories Die First' Tanner on Behalf of DoJ Civil Rights Division...
ALSO: How Would California Voters Who Lost Possessions in This Week's Fires Vote Next Month if Such Laws Existed in the State?
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2007 1:16pm PT  

"These remarks display a shameful lack of understanding and sensitivity that is unacceptable in the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws against voting discrimination," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote in a question sent to Attorney General Nominee Michael Mukasey today concerning bizarre and objectionable comments made earlier this month by the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief, John Tanner.

Tanner, whose recent remarks at the National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles, as video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG earlier this month, have sparked outrage, leading to calls for his firing last week by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), this past Wednesday by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Civil Rights groups have also called for Tanner to be canned in the wake of his remarks claiming that Photo ID restrictions at the polling do effect the elderly, and that that's a "shame." But, minorities needn't worry because "they don't become elderly. They die first."

"The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has failed miserably in its responsibility to enforce the Voting Rights Act during this Administration," Kennedy said in a statement quoted by TPM Muckraker. "The latest shameful revelations from the Section drive home the urgent need for the next Attorney General to install strong leadership to allow the Voting Section to return to its historic role in ensuring access to the ballot."

Kennedy's question to Mukasey, which TPM Muck has in full, ends with "If you are confirmed, will you review Mr. Tanner’s record and consider whether he should be replaced as head of the Voting Section?"

But for those paying very close attention to Mukasey's confirmation hearings last week, his position on the controversial Photo ID issue --- a concern since some 10 to 30 million legally registered voters, largely Democratic-leaning minorities and elderly, are believed not to have such IDs and would therefore be kept from voting --- was troubling.

We had to review the testimony several times, as given in answer to questions by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), to figure out where he fell on this issue. But a close reading reveals that, while Mukasey offered clear responses objecting to voter suppression issues such as misinformation concerning polling place location, he was far dodgier on the question of polling place Photo ID restrictions.

Close review of the transcript --- posted along with the video in full below --- reveals that Mukasey feels that overt disenfranchisement efforts via dirty tricks, such as misleading and/or threatening fliers and phone calls, definitely amounts to "flat-out fraud and pernicious fraud."

His feelings about disenfranchising Photo ID requirements, however, are far different...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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From DREs to the ACVR to the DOJ, The Republican Alphabet Soup Blueprint for Disenfranchisement and Miscounting in Next Year's Election Has Been a Well-Crafted and Well-Funded Work, Long in the Planning...
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on 10/21/2007 5:04pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of The Columbus Free Press

ED NOTE: The following feature was originally published in the Autumn '07 print version of the Columbus Free Press. The comprehensive aerial overview --- connecting dots from 2000 to 2004 to the outlook for 2008, as based on a wide body of years-long investigative reportage and exposés as collected from a variety of sources, including The BRAD BLOG and many others --- offers such a useful round-up of "our story until now" that we thought running the piece in its entirety here would be a very good idea. We hope you agree.

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?

Think again – the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.

With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.

Thus it should come as no surprise that our exclusive investigations into the firings of eight federal prosecutors who refused to execute Rove’s plans for massive disenfranchisement of Democratic voters reveal a pattern of illegalities and fraud aimed at reducing the number of minority, poor and young voters at the core of Democratic support. In the wake of major news breaks, two felony convictions have come from the rigging of the illegal Ohio 2004 vote count and recount that gave George W. Bush a second illegitimate term. Stunning new admissions from county election boards that illegally destroyed voter records will almost certainly lead to new convictions. And the multi-million-dollar electronic voting machine scam that made possible the biggest electoral frauds in US history is under massive new attack, with key states moving to scrap the machines altogether in a desperate attempt to restore American democracy – but with the job far from done.

Rove, Ney and the Undead

Indeed, the Rovian theft engine is far from dead. The media groundwork has already been laid out for the Republicans to claim that hordes of illegal aliens have registered to vote. The Bush administration has been caught ordering public agencies – possibly in violation of the law – to cease registering voters. In an April, 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, Rove openly alluded to the strategy of demanding photo ID and purging voter roles of poor, minority voters just as had been done in 2000 and 2004. And, as always with Bush/Rove, there is much more beneath the surface.

All that has happened to challenge the GOP death grip on the American vote count has been reported in the pages of Hustler and on the internet at FreePress.org, The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere, and is being seized upon by a national grassroots movement determined to restore American democracy next year.

Nowhere has that movement been more in evidence than with the high profile firestorm surrounding Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ firing of eight federal prosecutors without legitimate cause.

Evidence continues to surface from throughout the United States about this blatant Bush abuse of executive power. But we have traced the roots of the firings to an obscure Congressional hearing held at the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on March 21, 2005, and to a shadowy GOP operative named Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

The hearing was conducted by none other than former US Rep. Bob Ney (R-18th OH). The once-powerful Ohio Congressman (who is now behind bars) was the godfather of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the national boondoggle that mandated electronic voting machines for the American electoral process.

That the machines would cost taxpayers billions was a big plus for Ney. They would come from Diebold and other companies that poured money into Republican coffers. Thanks largely to the manipulations of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, these e-voting machine companies would help guarantee the GOP’s ability to steal elections.

Ney’s hearing featured a marquee appearance by J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Secretary of State responsible for delivering Ohio’s decisive 2004 electoral votes to Bush. Blackwell was a key operative for the Bush election campaign in Florida in 2000 and co-chaired the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign in Ohio...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Wire Service Reports on Obama Letter, Fails to Cite BRAD BLOG for Breaking Story, Misses Much of the Point in General...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 1:46pm PT  

AP is notorious for refusing to give appropriate credit to blogs that break stories. They've done so again in their coverage today of Barack Obama's letter calling for the firing of DoJ Voting Rights section chief John Tanner in the wake of our video coverage of his recent objectionable comments [emphasis ours]:

"That's a shame, you know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance," Tanner said, according to video posted on YouTube. "Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Setting aside the de rigueur BRAD BLOG slight, AP received a response to Obama's call for Tanner's head from DoJ spokesman Erik Ablin:

"Mr. Tanner is an attorney who works to protect civil rights on a daily basis," Ablin said, adding that the official had won numerous awards from African-American groups. "Nothing in his comments deviated from his firm commitment to enforce the law, and it is unfortunate that they have been so grossly misconstrued."

"Grossly misconstrued"? AP does not detail in what way Ablin believes the comments to have been "grossly misconstrued," but quotes him as saying the department "continues to have full confidence" in Tanner.

Former colleagues of Tanner's, however, don't seem to agree that the comments were misconstrued...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Letter to Acting Attorney General Says John Tanner's Recent Remarks Are 'Patently Erroneous, Offensive, and Dangerous'
Comments, Video Taped and First Reported by BRAD BLOG, Have Been Given to Judiciary Committee, Continue to Reverberate...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2007 12:16pm PT  

After recently stepping up, along with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), to block the nomination to the FEC of insidious GOP "voter fraud" zealot Hans Von Spakovsky, Illinois' Democratic Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is calling for the head of the Voting Rights Section chief of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division.

In a letter sent today (posted in full at end of this article) to Acting Attorney General, Peter D. Keisler, Obama has requested that John Tanner be sent packing following objectionable comments he made two weeks ago in Los Angeles at the National Latino Congresso.

The remarks by Tanner, video-taped and first reported by The BRAD BLOG, were meant in support of his decision to allow a Photo ID restriction at polling places in Georgia, over the recommendation of four out of five of the career attorneys in the Civil Rights unit. The law would later be found unconstitutional by two federal judges, one of whom declared the practice to be a "Jim Crow-era poll tax".

Tanner told audience members during the panel on October 5th, that while it was a "shame" that the elderly would, in fact, be disenfranchised by the law he approved on behalf of the DoJ, minorities would have less to worry about because, as he told the stunned room, "Our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Former colleagues of Tanner went on to characterize his comments as "false", "ludicrous" and "cherry-picked" from existing data.

In his letter today, Obama said, "Such comments are patently erroneous, offensive, and dangerous, and they are especially troubling coming from the federal official charged with protecting voting rights in this country."

As we reported several days ago, Tanner is scheduled to testify on this and related matters to a sub-commitee of the House Judiciary Committee on October 30th. The committee has asked The BRAD BLOG for a copy of the entire session with Tanner, as video-taped by our own Alan Breslauer. We have complied with their request.

In breaking the news of Obama's letter this morning, TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel noted the irony that during his appearance before the Judiciary Committee, Tanner will "get to explain personally to its 78 year-old African-American chairman [John Conyers] that minorities don't 'become elderly.'"

"Through his inexcusable comments," Obama writes in today's letter, "Mr. Tanner has clearly demonstrated that he possesses neither the character nor the judgment to be heading the Voting Rights Section. For that reason, I respectfully request that you remove him from his position."

Since the 2004 election, Republican officials and operatives have been attempting to enact such Photo ID laws at polling places across the country, despite some 10 to 30 million, largely Democratic and minority voters, who do not have such ID's and would be disenfranchised by such laws. Millions of dollars have been spent to support the unevidenced idea of Democratic "voter fraud" by phony GOP front groups such as the "non-partisan" ACVR, created by Bush/Cheney '04's national general counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director, Jim Dyke. Hearne is now laying low since shutting down the ACVR in the wake of calls for phony "voter fraud" prosecutions being found at the center of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal. Dyke, who parlayed his "non-partisan" ACVR gig into work for Dick Cheney, is now Communications Director for the Rudy Giuliani campaign.

Continuing the false GOP meme of Democratic "voter fraud", The BRAD BLOG recently noted unsupported claims of undocumented immigrants being "rounded up, herded into the polls [and] voting illegally" in California as charged by Golden State Rep. Duncan Hunter during a recent Republican Presidential Debate. Both Hunter's campaign and Congressional offices subsequently failed to respond to BRAD BLOG requests to back up with the claim with details or evidence.

During it's current session, the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to review the constitutionality of a similar Photo ID law enacted in the state of Indiana.

UPDATE: AP picks up the story, quotes DoJ as saying Tanner's comments were "grossly misconstrued", fails to credit BRAD BLOG for breaking original story. Details here...

LATER UPDATE: WaPo again picks up the story, and again, as last time (and unlike AP) credits us appropriately. They also offer yet another DoJ spokesman's defense of Tanner, while an insider DoJ source gives us an indication of what's really going on over at DoJ in the wake of all of this. Details here...

The complete letter from Sen. Barack Obama to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler follows below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Only One of Them Properly Credits Us...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2007 5:12pm PT  

We hadn't noticed it, but last week Paul Krugman over at the NY Times picked up on our original exclusive report on DoJ Voting Chief John Tanner's recent comments saying while it's a "shame" that the elderly are, in fact, disenfranchised by Photo ID restrictions at the polling place --- like the one that he approved on behalf of the Department's Civil Rights Division in Georgia --- he's less worried about minorities being disenfranchised because "minorities don't become elderly. The way that white people do. They die first."

Unfortunately, Krugman credited our friends at TPM Muckraker for the story, even though their story followed up on, and properly credited, ours. Krugman's comments were in his NYTimes blog and we hope he'll cover the important matter in his regular column as well. Though if he does, we'd appreciate it if, like Al Kamen's coverage at WaPo, he offered appropriate attribution where it's due.

Believe it or not, it matters, and not just for our own ego.

On the other hand, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now today also picked up on the story (see the short video above left) and gave The BRAD BLOG the appropriate credit. Her coverage also included some of the video that our own Alan Breslauer posted here originally.

Thanks Amy! And thanks Alan for posting Amy's video here. There now, was that so hard?

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Incredibly, John Tanner Argues Restrictive Photo ID Laws at the Polls Actually Give Minorities a Greater Voice!
Rest of Panel, Audience Members at 2007 National Latino Congresso in Los Angeles Strongly Disagree...
By Alan Breslauer on 10/8/2007 4:10pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer with additional reporting by Brad Friedman

Unbelievably, the Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, John Tanner, contends that while it's "a shame" that elderly voters may be disenfranchised by new Photo ID restrictions at the polls because many don't have driver's licenses, minorities don't have to worry quite as much. Why? Because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

Yes, that's what Tanner said last Friday at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles and The BRAD BLOG was in tow with video camera to prove it...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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ALSO: Supreme Court to Hear Photo ID Case...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2007 12:51pm PT  

We're getting really tired of picking on Democrats. But with clueless Senators like Nebraska's Ben Nelson, it seems like we continue to have little choice.

Picking up from where we left off yesterday regarding this morning's vote in the Senate Rules Committee on whether or not to send a recommendation for approval on the FEC nomination of the DOJ's GOP "Voter Fraud" flim-flam operative, Hans von Spakovsky, to the full Senate. Again we again defer to Paul Kiel's TPMMuckraker report that the Democrats, thanks to a defection from Nelson, were unable to reject the nomination outright and will have to pick up the fight on the Senate floor, where the GOP (unlike the Dems) will march in lockstep to get what they want. Even from the minority...

This morning's result: faced with the defection of a Democrat on the committee, later revealed to be Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chose to agree to send all four nominees, two Democrats and two Republicans, to the floor without recommendation. In other words, the committee did not vote to approve von Spakovsky, but he got through nonetheless.

Next up is a vote before the full Senate, and how that vote will occur will be determined by negotiations between the Democratic and Republican leadership. Republicans are likely to seek a vote on all four nominees at once and have threatened to spike all the Democratic nominees if Democrats seek to block von Spakovsky.

Feinstein only said during the hearing that a Democrat had advised her that he would support von Spakovsky's nomination. In comments to reporters after the hearing, she identified that senator as Sen. Nelson.

More on the evil von Spakovsky here.

More details on today's negotiations here, including Feinstein's statement: "I don’t feel that this is an unbiased individual." Minority Leader Mitch McConnnel's (R-KY) hardball in return: "None of these nominees will move across the Senate unless they move together."

In related your-right-to-legally-cast-a-vote-is-under-attack news, as Arlen Parsa covered for us in a bit more detail earlier, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Democratic challenge to Indiana's voter disenfranchising Photo ID law.

The very smart Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen sees this as good news for opponents of such laws, but we've got our money on a 5 to 4 ruling in favor of the GOP law, created (by Thor Hearne and Friends) in the hopes of keeping Democratic voters from being able to cast their votes on Election Day. We hope we're wrong, but Bush's Supreme Court hasn't given us much to be hopeful about.

You'll note the supporters of the restrictive, Jim Crow-type legislation have been unable to offer a single case of a voter in the state voting as someone else at the polling place.

Perhaps Sen. Ben Nelson would like to issue a resolution in support of such laws? Idiot.

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Founder, Front Man, Thor Hearne, Crawls Out from Under His Rock to Provide a Few Laughs
Even as His Vote Suppression Efforts Continue to Haunt the DoJ, America's Electoral System...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2007 11:43pm PT  

Blogged by Brad from Nashville...

While it's tough keeping up from the road --- where we will be for a long while still --- we rest much easier knowing that Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers continues to lift the rocks and scrape off the slime that's found under them in the name of the disgraced "non-partisan" GOP front group calling themselves the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) and their vote-suppressor in chief, the Bush/Cheney '04 General Counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne.

Today, Gordon advances the ACVR story --- which we broke more than two years ago and have been drilling down into ever since --- with the latest in his string of doozies that he's been rolling out since jumping on the beat.

His latest must-read begins by detailing the ACVR Menace as it reached its tentacles into New Mexico and the case behind the political firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

He also details some fresh gut-busters from our friend Thor, whose turds just don't seem to have the same luster they once did, when previously offered to a far less dubious media...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Sen. McConnell's Provision Would Amend Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to Include Attempt to Keep Legally Registered Voters from Voting!
GOP Prepared to Stop at Nothing to Undermine Most Basic American Values...Such as Democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2007 2:53pm PT  

Un-believable. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has introduced an amendment to the proposed new Immigration Law that would require disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions on voters at the polling place, according to a press release just out from National League of Women Voters.

The provision tagged onto the immigration bill would amend the horrible Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 that McConnell co-sponsored and pushed through to passage along with his Republican counterpart and lead author in the House, the now-jailed Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

The key provision in the amendment is as follows:

SEC. 304. IDENTIFICATION OF VOTERS AT THE POLLS.

(a) In General.--Notwithstanding the requirements of section 303(b), each State shall require individuals casting ballots in an election for Federal office in person to present a current valid photo identification issued by a governmental entity before voting.

(b) Effective Date.--Each State shall be required to comply with the requirements of subsection (a) on and after January 1, 2008.

Apparently, it's not enough for the Republican White House operatives to create phony "grass roots" groups to create propaganda solely for the purpose of forwarding the fraudulent notion of a massive "Democratic Voter Fraud" epidemic (which doesn't exist).

It's not enough to toss legitimate voters from the voter rolls through purges and "caging" lists to remove legal, minority voters (many serving overseas in Iraq, nonetheless) so they are not allowed to exercise their legal franchise.

It's not enough to remake our entire Department of Justice into nothing more than a branch of the Republican party for the specific purpose of bringing trumped up "voter fraud" indictments in hopes of shaving votes in close elections and otherwise gutting the beloved 40 year old Voting Rights Act for purely partisan gain.

No. Come hell or highwater, these democracy hating Republican thugs are going to find a way to keep you from voting --- even if they have to amend every piece of legislation that comes before them to try and do it --- because, otherwise, they can't win elections.

If McConnell's provision is not defeated, fillibustered, or whatever it takes by every goddamned Democrat in that body, well....good luck voting them out of office either. But they'll sure as hell deserve it. Every. Single. One of them. (As if those who pushed through the Iraq funding bill capitulation don't already deserve to be removed from office.)

These Republicans are absolutely beyond contempt and, clearly, despise the most basic American values at the very core of our once-great Republic. They hate everything about it. They are loathesome. And the Dems damned well better stop them dead in their tracks.

Rick Hasen has the complete amendment and additional details on the latest insipid GOP/McConnell scam.

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Then-DoJ Appointee in Civil Rights Unit, Now Recess-Appointed FEC Chair, Tried to Influence EAC Reports on 'Voter Fraud'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2007 12:50pm PT  

Following up on Greg Gordon's Sunday piece on former DoJ operative turned recess-appointed FEC chair Hans von Spakovsky, McClatchy has now posted the emails referred to in the article in full [PDF].

As you'll recall, the point we focused on when we covered Gordon's article was the apparent attempted strong-arming, suggested by the emails, of U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Paul DeGregorio. Von Spakovsky was attempting to influence the EAC's reports and positions on GOP claims of massive "voter fraud" and the effects of legislation for Photo ID restrictions at the polls.

Von Spakovsky was concerned about the EAC's position and the "proper balance" (code word) being brought to bi-partisan reports on "voter fraud" and Photo ID, both of which eventually failed to give evidence of GOP claims of massive Democratic voter fraud. Such claims were being used by Bush's operatives at DoJ and out in the "grass roots" by their boy Thor Hearne and his "non-partisan" front group, the American Center for Voting Rights to game elections and media, and push for Photo ID laws (which have been found to be unconstitutional time and again.)

Both reports would eventually be altered and/or buried.

BRAD BLOG readers will also recall the many reports filed here concerning the partisanship and/or incompetence of the EAC, the White House controlled federal body which supposedly oversees our nation's electoral system. These emails highlight many of the claims we've made about inappropriate influence by the White House on the failed commission.

One thing which catches our eye in the emails right away is that von Spakovsky's emails were sent to the Republican members of the commission including DeGregorio, Donnetta Davidson (now EAC chair), and Tom Wilkey (EAC Exec Dir.), but not to the Democratic members. (Ed Note: See 5/24/07 UPDATE at bottom of article on this point.) We've covered both Davidson and Wilkey, and the failings of each, in some detail here at The BRAD BLOG in the past.

The notes were also sent to Republican aides of Sen. Christopher Bond in Missouri (home of the ACVR's Hearne), as well as Doug Lewis of the Election Center, a voting machine industry front group, which "the Dean of the DC press corp," WaPo's David Broder, recently referred to in a column as his favorite expert on elections, forgetting to mention that he's an industry/Republican shill. Can someone please put Broder out to pasture at this point?! And can the media stop quoting Lewis as if he's a disinterested, non-partisan "expert" on elections?!

Little time for the moment to report on the new specifics found in the emails, so we'll encourage you to give them a quick read (just 5 pages) and leave your thoughts here in comments. As time allows, we'll update this item with our own thoughts if possible.

But one quick point that we haven't highlighted enough lately: Voter Fraud is the term used to describe voters gaming the system on a retail level by voting twice, etc. It's extremely rare, as bi-partisan reports have shown time and again, despite GOP claims (that includes the EAC's own buried and altered reports that von Spakovsky hoped to influence).

Election Fraud, on the other hand, is the defrauding of elections through the administration of those elections, from inappropriate voter roll purges to gaming of voting equipment, etc. Evidence strongly suggests that the GOP's unevidenced claims of a "voter fraud" epidemic by Democrats may well have been forwarded after 2004 in order to deflect from the now-well-documented evidence showing GOP election fraud in Ohio and elsewhere.

Hope that reminder helps to clarify.

UPDATE 5/24/07: McClatchy's Greg Gordon writes to say that he believes that all of the commissioners, not just the Republican ones, were CC'd on the emails in question, but that those CC's somehow ended up on a second page and didn't get included when they created their PDF's of the actual emails. Due to the holiday weekend, unfortunately, he won't be able to try to find them in order to check for sure until next week at earliest. But he wanted us to note that there is a question about whether or not all of the EAC commissioners were actually CC'd, and to note his recollection that they were, at least on some of the notes. We'll update further if we can learn definitively one way or the other.

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Emails Suggest Partisan EAC Chair DeGregorio Fought off Influence Attempts, as Surprising as That May Seem...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2007 8:35am PT  

McClatchy Newspaper's excellent Greg Gordon moves the ball forward again on the Bush White House's insider politicization of the DoJ to achieve electoral advantages via gaming of phony "Voter Fraud" claims and the pursuit of voter suppressing Photo ID laws at the polls.

His article covers the inside moves of the Bush-appointed operative Hans von Spakovsky after he was assigned to the DoJ's voting rights unit, and the games he played in the post, including an anonymously published essay on "Voter Fraud" and Voter ID laws; overriding of career civil rights attorney recommendations against a Georgia Voter ID law (while refusing to recuse himself, despite his past service as a Georgia official), a law which was later found by a federal judge to be unconstitutional and akin to a Jim Crow-era poll tax; and attempts to influence the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC)'s studies on Voter Fraud and the effects of Photo ID at the polls.

Last year, Von Spakovsky was recess-appointed by Bush to head the FEC, though he will face what could be an interesting Congressional confirmation hearing in the Senate on June 13.

Aside from the many familiar faces (at least to BRAD BLOG readers) who come into play in the story, from Georgia to Arizona to Missouri, one aspect of Gordon's report is a bit of a surprise and so particularly catches our notice...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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