You're a Great American, Thor Hearne...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2008, 2:56pm PT  

The parade of disenfranchised and/or soon-to-be-disenfranchised elderly, nuns, U.S. veterans (even those disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan), hurricane victims, and other Democratic-leaning voters continues this week, following the recent Supreme Court decision to allow the disenfranchisement of thousands of such (previously) legal voters in Indiana.

While much of the coverage --- such as today's report by Art Levine at HuffPo --- has been intelligent and serious, the New York Times took the lazy way out in a front page story today, lending credence to the discredited GOP "voter fraud" huckster, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, with quotes and reference to his defunct, sham organization, The American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).

Writing about him and it, as if he were legit, and as if the ACVR were still in operation, the article's author, Ian Urbina --- who has written very good reports in the past --- didn't bother to mention the controversy surrounding Hearne and his group, that they had disappeared themselves under the glare of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal, that they had lied on federal tax forms claiming that the group had not "attempted to influence national, state, or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum" (fraudulent tax form here), that Hearne himself has been behind every step of the systematic and dishonest scheme to get laws of this sort on the books across the country, and finally, Urbina didn't even bother to note that Hearne had been the national general counsel to Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. and remains the top election lawyer for the Republican National Lawyer's Association.

It's all easy to find, of course. We've even set up a Special Coverage page at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR so folks like Urbina --- and NPR who similarly quoted Hearne as if he were legit recently --- wouldn't have to look too far.

But darn that "liberal media" again. For the record, we sought comment from Urbina, who we've been a source for in the past, and who has done good work over the years, but he declined to comment on our criticism here.

In the days immediately following the horrible SCOTUS decision, we quickly turned to our old home state of Missouri, where the huckster Hearne has been basing his well-funded voter suppression operation on behalf of the White House and the RNC for years, going back at least as far as the moment we originally outed him in 2005 just after he had created the not "non-partisan," tax-exempt front group, ACVR, and testified just days later at a Congressional hearing, led by Ohio's felonious Rep. Bob Ney. Hearne told of fraud having been committed in Ohio in 2004, but by John Kerry's campaign, after Hearne described himself to legislatures only as a "longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experienced in election law."

We called on MO's Sec. of State Robin Carnahan for an exclusive interview, while we were hosting KPFK's "Special Election Year Coverage" last week (audio here), and took the opportunity to inform her, if she didn't already know, that Hearne's group lied on his federal tax form, and has, to this day, illegally failed to discose the source of his group's $1 million in start-up funding.

Our interview with Carnahan took place even as Missouri's Republican legislature was in mid-debate on the House floor about a new state Constitutional Amendment to require proof of citizenship in order to register to vote and for a similarly draconian Photo ID requirement as those approved by the SCOTUS for the polling places in the Hoosier State.

Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling noticed our interview with Carnahan, and wrote a quick item about it, noting her characterization of these anti-voter efforts as "absurd," and alleging that she has not been quite as available to "reporters in the state"...

Appearing yesterday on the radio with well-known voting machine critic and blogger Brad Friedman, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan called the push for photo ID "absurd."

(Carnahan's discussion --- by telephone --- was rare. Her office usually refuses to make her available for questions from reporters in the state.)

...But whether the MO SoS has been available to Helling or not, she has been making quite a bit of noise ever since, concerning what a study by her office has found to be some 240,000 largely Democrati-leaning voters in the Show-Me State who would be disenfranchised by the Republican law as she explained to us on air.

Meanwhile, over in Arizona, a law that has already made it on to the books will similarly be keeping legal Americans from casting their legal votes this year.

Thor Hearne deserves a raise...

Just by way of noting Thor Hearne's filthy hand in every GOP voter-suppression Photo ID scheme across the country, we'll note that Thor Hearne helped to write that Indiana law, then Thor Hearne submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of Republican U.S. Congress members in support of it, leading to the decision by the Supreme Court (chosen by George W. Bush, who Thor Hearne kept voters from voting against in Missouri and Florida in 2000), in part because they recognize that, though there is almost no in-person polling place voter fraud in the country, and not a single known instance of same in Indiana's history, the perception that their might be was enough to allow such laws.

That perception, of course, was helped along by the massive propaganda published by Thor Hearne and his GOP "voter fraud" outfit ACVR. And where such "privately"-issued propaganda wasn't enough, Thor Hearne helped to create, commission, (and then bury and re-write, when it failed to show what he'd hoped) a study on "voter fraud" by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) showing that there wasn't much of any, and certainly not enough to merit such draconian laws when they stand to disenfranchise millions of legal voters in the bargain.

Of additional help to the Supremes in their bad decision were the findings of a "national election reform commission," co-chaired by James Baker and Jimmy Carter who --- to nobody's surprise, as it was the very reason for the creation of the private "commission," --- recommended Photo ID restrictions, though with a great deal more caution to avoid disenfranchisement than Indiana has done. An advisory member on that "commission" was Thor Hearne, after the panel itself was created by, you guessed it, Thor Hearne.

Thor Hearne, who is no doubt celebrating his recent victory at the Supreme Court, sipping champagne in celebration of the massive anti-American, anti-Constitutional voter suppression he has almost single-handedly engineered in the United States of America, has certainly earned the money he was paid from his tax-exempt outfit...particularly since they'd claimed on those tax-forms not to have "attempt[ed] to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum."

For those unfamiliar with the scant evidence of actual in-person voter impersonation fraud, of the type these laws claim to be designed to deter, here are some numbers from the Bush Administration's own DoJ efforts --- unparalleled in this nation's history, in their attempts to find such "voter fraud" to help foster an atmosphere for these anti-democratic (small "d") and anti-Democratic (large "D") laws --- as posted along with a very good earlier NYTimes story (co-written by Urbina) on the DoJ's failed five-year effort to root out any such fraud...

Of course, for all of the disingenuous GOP sturm-and-drang about "voter fraud," one real case of voter fraud, as committed, without question, by Ann Coulter --- as we reported, with documentation, in detail --- has never been prosecuted. Go figure. Must just be an oversight.

But we digress...

Following our interview with Carnahan, and the MO House of Reps subsequent party-line approval of the Constitutional Amendment last week (it should pass as easily in the Republican-led Senate this week where legislators there had done away with Dems veto option a couple of years ago), she joined a press conference featuring a number of the soon-to-be-disenfranchised in the state. The collection included Franciscan nuns, a relocated Katrina victim who still uses a Louisiana ID because she can't get one in Missouri (because her birth certificate was lost in the hurricane), and a woman with cerebral palsy whose disability disallows her to offer a consistent signature with that on her registration record.

Carnhan wrote about all of the above at Huff Po last week.

Aside from deplorably giving credibility to Thor Hearne, today's NYTimes piece pointed to 78-year old St. Louisian Lillie Lewis who hasn't been able to get a Photo ID in Missouri after her birth-state of Mississippi sent her a letter stating they had no record of her birth.

"I have voted in almost all of the presidential races going back I can't remember how long," Lewis said, "but if they tell me I need a passport or birth certificate that'll be the end of that."

She'll hardly be alone as MO Republicans, under the command of General Hearne, move forward with their plans to burn down decades of civil rights gains in order to desperately achieve an electoral victory in the important swing state this November and beyond.

Levine's HuffPo piece charges that, thanks to Thor Hearne's work, Missouri "could take the brass ring from Florida and Ohio as the state most hostile to its own voters' rights."

"The state is a presidential battleground state where recent gubernatorial and Senate races have been decided by margins as little as 21,000 votes," writes Levine before quoting Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition's John Hickey who says, "If you exclude 240,000 people from the electorate, that is plenty to swing the election in Missouri."

Levine then points to what has been found so far in Arizona, where the state's new requirement for citizenship records in order to register, similar to the coming-soon plan for Missouri, has already allegedly cut registration efforts down by half:

According to Arizona ACORN's Monica Sanschafer, who is heading up an effort to help 20,000 Arizonans register to vote, they have seen the effectiveness of their voter registration efforts cut in half because between 10 percent and 30 percent of low-income and minority citizens don't have the documents needed to register. The law, which has led to more than 38,000 voter registration applications being rejected, is now being challenged in court.

He then goes on to tell yet another heart-breaking story, of yet another disenfranchised voter in Arizona, this time, a 97-year old who was born before women even had the right to vote in America, and who was robbed of her right to vote for Hillary Clinton in the state's recent Presidential preference election...

97-year-old Shirley Freeda Preiss...was born at home in Clinton, Kentucky in 1910, before women had the right to vote, and never had a birth certificate. Shirley has voted in every presidential election since FDR first ran in 1932, and proudly describes herself as a "died-in-the-wool Democrat." After living in Arizona for two years, she was eagerly looking forward to casting her ballot in the February primary for the first major woman candidate for President, Hillary Clinton. But lacking a birth certificate or even elementary school records to prove she's a native-born American citizen, the state of Arizona's bureaucrats determined that this former school-teacher who taught generations of Americans shouldn't be allowed to vote.

"I have a constitutional right to vote, don't I?" she asks with her soft Southern drawl. "I didn't get to vote because of a birth certificate. What am I going to do now?"

Her strong-willed 78-year-old son, Nathan "Joey" Nemnich, a World War II veteran, is infuriated. "I'm pissed. She's an American citizen who worked her whole life and I want her to vote," he says. He went down to the local Motor Vehicle Division to get her an Arizona ID and register her to vote, armed with copies of his mother's three drivers' licenses from her previous home in Texas, along with copies of her Social Security and Medicare cards. All that wasn't good enough for the state of Arizona. "The sons of bitches are taking away our Constitution," Nemnich says.

And for those "sons of bitches...taking away our Constitution" who are, no doubt, too "busy" to read about those who Carnahan similarly mentioned in her own HuffPo piece last last week, here's a quick round-up:

  • "Sister Sandy Schwartz of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Mary the Angel...After she heard the story about the Indiana incident, she did a quick survey of the 35 nuns in her convent and found that 15 did not have a government-issued photo ID to vote --- therefore, no right to vote."
  • "Another Missourian, Birdie Owen had a different story. Birdie relocated to Missouri after Hurricane Katrina and still uses her Louisiana ID. That's because she can't get a Missouri photo ID....Why? Because her birth certificate was lost in the hurricane. And because a birth certificate is one of the documents required in order to get a Missouri photo ID, without one, no government-issued ID... therefore, no right to vote."
  • "Another affected citizen is Kathleen Weinschenk. Kathy has cerebral palsy and because of her disability is unable to make a consistent signature or mark - so her signature might not match the signature on her voter registration record required by the Missouri law...therefore, no right to vote."

Proud of yourselves, sons of bitches?

To paraphrase ourselves, as we've asked previously, why do Republicans hate the Constitution, God, Nuns, Students, Vets, Married People, and even Palsy victims?

The answer, no doubt, is helpfully obscured by the NYTimes, NPR, and a paraphrse of Sean Hannity's catch-all response to anyone who prefers political power and partisanship over hard-fought American principles like liberty, democracy, the Constitution, and the right to vote: Hey, Thor Hearne, you're a great American!

UPDATE 5/13/08: The Times removes reference to Hearne's ACVR in their article, but fail to note the change, and otherwise succeeding in helping to cleanse his discredited his record! Full details now here...

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