Friday, July 20, 2007

 

Federal Election Commission nominee recants lies

Hans von Spakovsky is one of the many appointed bureaucrats that George Bush has slipped into a berth while Congress was in recess. But his temporary appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is up, and his nomination must now be confirmed by the Senate if he's to remain for a full six-year term.

As one of the Republican storm-troopers who oversaw the stealing of the Presidency in 2000, he was quickly elevated to the Justice Department where he took charge of the Voting Section. There he set to the task of disenfranchising minority voters. The Federal Election Commission, which nominally oversees campaign finance laws, was a natural berth after his fine performance at the Department of Justice.

During his confirmation hearings last month, von Spakovsky was consistent in his efforts to pass the buck whenever challenged over any actions he may have taken while at the Justice Department. Happily von Spakovsky was under oath.

Here is his testimony concerning a letter he wrote instructing the Secretary of State of Arizona that voters did not need to be given provisional ballots if they could not present state-approved identification. Senator Diane Feinstein is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration—

Chairman Feinstein: .... I would like to ask some questions on the last State, if I may, and that is Arizona. In May of 2005, outgoing Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sheldon Bradshaw on his last days at the Department issued a letter opinion to the State of Arizona. The letter wrongly informed Arizona that it could stop voters from receiving a provisional ballot if they did not have State identification.

In September of 2005, Brad Schlozman sent a letter to Arizona correcting the Department's opinion and stating that individuals can request and cast a provisional ballot for any reason.

In my [sic] Schlozman's sworn testimony last week, he says he had nothing to do with the drafting of the May 2005 letter, but it was probably done by "the voting counsel in the front office."

Was that not you?

Mr. von Spakovsky: I believe I drafted both letters, Senator, both the earlier letter and the corrected letter in September.

Chairman Feinstein: Okay. And you will not answer this, but for the record, because it is important, what did you say?

Mr. von Spakovsky: I drafted the letters, Senator, I was directed to draft on these issues with my recommendations of what they should be. What happened in between the two letters--

Chairman Feinstein: So you drafted a letter that, in essence, said it was possible to prevent a voter from receiving a provisional ballot if they did not have State identification. Is that correct?

Mr. von Spakovsky: I did draft that letter, yes, ma'am.

Chairman Feinstein: Okay. Thank you for being up front. If you would like to say something else, I appreciate it.

Mr. von Spakovsky: Well, I drafted that letter, Senator, but you need to understand. When the Help America Vote Act was passed, the system that was set up in the Division was we had a number of lawyers in the Voting Section who were dedicated to working on Help America Vote Act issues. And anytime a question came in ... that inquiry would get looked at by all the lawyers, including myself and the other career lawyers in the section. They would look at each of these inquiries and letters, whether they came in by e-mail or letter, and we would discuss what the response was that we thought should go out. So this was not me acting by myself. You know, I would have been consulting with the other attorneys there to do it.

Greg Gordon reports today that

Hans von Spakovsky ... revised his statement in a recent letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee after former senior department voting-rights lawyers challenged his veracity.
....

Joseph Rich, who was the Justice Department's voting rights chief when the letter was drafted, said von Spakovsky never consulted with him about it and that Bradshaw had had virtually no involvement in voting rights matters before signing it. Rich said he'd asked Alex Acosta, who was then the civil rights chief, about the letter and Acosta had replied, "What are you talking about? Send me the letter.''
....

Von Spakovsky also didn't consult with the Election Assistance Commission, a small agency that's tasked with implementing the Help America Vote law, before sending the letter. Two days after it was sent, Ray Martinez, an EAC commissioner, sent others on the panel an e-mail describing the letter as "a major (and unwelcome) surprise'' and complaining about the Justice Department's lack of coordination.

Chairman Feinstein has not yet scheduled a vote on von Spakovsky's nomination.

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