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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


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.




Fate of One of Bush's Worst - Hans Von Spakovsky - to be Decided by Feinstein and Other Senate Dems
Here's Hoping They Get This One Right...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2007 2:30pm PT  

We don't normally re-run entire items from elsewhere here. This one, however, is important (and short) enough to merit it. From Paul Kiel over at TPMMuckraker...

Finally, the time has come. The Senate Rules Committee will vote tomorrow on whether Hans von Spakovsky, the former Justice Department official who former employees say was key to the politicization of voting rights section, will get a term on the Federal Elections Commission. Von Spakovsky is also a veteran of Republican efforts to target voter fraud.

It's not immediately clear what will happen tomorrow. Howard Gantman, staff director for the committee, said that Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wants a vote on each nominee separately (as opposed to considering all four nominees, Democratic and Republican, in one vote) and that she continues to have serious concerns about Von Spakovsky. He also said that no deal had been struck.

Former employees of the voting section mounted serious opposition to von Spakovsky's nomination, with a group writing in a letter to the committee that he'd been "the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights." Von Spakovsky, however, portrayed himself during his confirmation hearing as just a lawyer in the section who gave advice when it was asked. It was a portrayal with real problems --- as von Spakovsky himself tacitly acknowledged when he modified his testimony in later written answers to the committee.

Von Spakovsky also sought to spike accusations that he'd retaliated against wrong-thinking employees (i.e. lawyers overly-preoccupied with African-Americans' voting rights) by, among other things, adding negative comments to their performance evaluations. But two former lawyers told us that he'd done just that --- and then went so far as to stifle their appeals of the changes.

President Bush put von Spakovsky on the commission as a recess appointment in December, 2005.

You can register your opinion on Hans von Spakovsky, who is as evil as his name evokes, with the Senate Rules Committee and Feinstein (D-CA) here: 202-224-6352, or via their website.




By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2007 6:11pm PT  

Voter Fraud zealot Bradley Schlozman takes his do-over concerning testimony he gave last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning his assertion (made 10 times in all), that it was Craig Donsanto of the Election Crimes division at the DoJ's Public Integrity unit who gave him the go ahead to bring voter fraud charges in Missouri days before last November's election. The indictments were in strict violation of the DoJ's written policies --- written by Donsanto, in fact --- that bar such indictments at times that they may have an impact on an election.

Says Schlozzie, in his freshly-filed and obviously-forced about face: "I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN while I was the interim U.S. Attorney."


To which Sen. Leahy --- who pressed Schlozman hard on this precise point in a memorably heated exchange during the hearing (see angry video at left)-- says: "It is deeply troubling that after weeks of preparation Mr. Schlozman appears to have misled the Committee and the public about his decision to file an election eve lawsuit in direct conflict with longstanding Justice Department policy."

Also related...Hans von Spakovsky, Schlozman's GOP "voter fraud" partner at DoJ, comes before the Senate tomorrow for a hearing concerning his appointment as chair of the FEC. He had been previously recess-appointed to the position by Bush, but his Get Out of Jail Free Card is now up, and tomorrow he'll finally face questions on his role in gutting the Voting Rights Act at the DoJ against the advice of the decades-long experience of civil rights attorneys in the Voting Unit there. Five of those former DoJ staffers have written a letter to Congress urging them to reject von Spakovsky's nomination.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has many more details on both the Schlozman do-over and von Spakovsky's DoJ chicanery in advance of tomorrow's hearing.




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!... ---




Issues reported by BRAD BLOG for last three years hit mainstream, are advanced several steps by NYTimes, McClatchy...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2007 9:35am PT  

The most valuable takeaway from the entire U.S. Attorney Purge scandal will likely prove to have been the exposure of the long-perpetuated GOP "voter fraud" scam. The scheme has been been so pervasive for so long, but the coverage of it has been largely contained to blogs like ours.

In the interim, the MSM coverage of the issue had been given over to the well-funded Republican propaganda machine which had detailed the phony claims of "voter fraud" as if they were legitimate.

The result, as designed, were calls for restrictive Voter ID legislation at the polling place, an effort that was successful in a number of states. After all, as the Republican snakeoil salesmen oft-repeated, "you need an ID to get on a plane, to cash a check, why not to vote?"

It was a difficult line to refute on its face, but it was built on lies, disinformation, and attempts by this White House and this Republican party to wage an unprecedented effort to keep any portion of the 10 to 30 million Americans (mostly Dem-leaning) without photo ID's (many even without birth certificates!) from being able to cast a vote.

The U.S. Attorney Purge scandal has helped to reveal the insidious scheme, opening it up for everyone to see by helping to expose the slimy, well-funded campaign for what it really is: little more than a broadly-waged, party-funded, voter suppression ploy.

Scores of MSM articles and columns over the past week or two have finally helped expose this scam to the public, and the likes of vote-suppression operative Thor Hearne's well-financed, systematic, White House-run "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) has, for now, slithered back underground.

Much of the MSM coverage to date has repeated what BRAD BLOG readers already know since we've been covering it for so long. But there are a couple of notable must-read exceptions recently which move many of these inter-related stories forward several moves...

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




Dan Eggen Continues His Series of Reports on Adminstration Political Appointees Overruling the Opinions of Career Voting Rights Attorneys...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2006 1:01am PT  

Last month, we reported how the George W. Bush administration has effectively gutted the beloved, 40-year old Voting Rights Act. He has done so by allowing political appointees in the Department of Justice to override the recommendations of career attorneys in the Voting Rights division who had recommended against the Georgia Photo ID Requirement Law and Tom Delay's Texas Congressional Redistricting Scheme.

In both cases, the career attorneys at DoJ had written lengthy memos opposing the new laws --- 4 out of 5 of them in the GA case, 8 out of 8 in the TX case --- only to be overruled by Bush's political cronies. Dan Eggen of The Washington Post broke both of those stories, with some exemplary reporting, after obtaining the leaked memos.

Later, the DoJ mandated that no such written opinions would be allowed in the future.

Eggen, on Page A1 of Monday's WaPo, now has more on the fallout and allegations of politics being played with the VRA within DoJ, as Bush continues to dismantle as many American Values as he can before leaving office...Here's some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be)...

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




America Recieves Another Smack in the Face by the Democracy-Hating Bush Administration
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2006 12:27pm PT  

The U.S. Senate convenes two weeks from now. George W. Bush could not wait and had to "recess appoint" the three latest additions to the Federal Elections Commission. You know how he is about those things. Hates to wait. And hates that whole annoying "Congressional oversight", "check and balances", blah, blah, blah stuff.

Amongst Bush's 17 recess appointments made today:

Robert D. Lenhard, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.
Steven T. Walther, of Nevada, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.
Hans Von Spakovsky, of Georgia, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission.

We had more previously on these characters when they were first nominated last month, including details on Bush crony von Spakovsky as well as Lenhard, who happens to be the husband of Vivica Novak (she, not just coincidentally, of TIME Mag/RoveGate fame). Novak will likely be testifying in some fashion concerning crimes surrounding the Bush Administration's alleged outting of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Now, it seems, Novak will have to decide whether or not to give damaging testimony against her husband's boss.

Aside from being a key player in the 2000 Florida Election Boondoggle, a member of the extremist Federalist Society and a former Republican Party Chairman in Georgia, von Spakovsky was Bush's political appointee at the DoJ who recently made the papers as well. He was revealed to be behind the overriding of opinions given by career DoJ attorneys in the Voting Rights division concerning the Georgia Photo ID requirement laws and the Texas redistricting pet project of indicted former House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay. 4 out of 5 attorneys said the Georgia law would disenfranchise minority voters. While 8 out of 8 unaminously found the new Texas congressional map to be in violation of the law for similar reasons. Both of those decisions were overriden with the help of von Spakovsky and resulted in an effective gutting of the very heart of the 40 year-old Voting Rights Act of 1965 as we reported in early December. Who better to sit on the Federal Elections Commission?!

The Georgia law has since been found unconstitutional by two Federal courts and the Texas law is headed to the Supreme Court where still more Bush appointees will likely be sitting in judgement.

One party rule. America rocks! Except for this whole "Decade of Shame" thing we seem to be in the middle of...Lady Liberty weeps...More encouraging news on other matters tomorrow...




What's a Few Broken, Ignored Federal Election Laws Between Friends?
(Especially When It May Even Help On That Little Matter of White House Treason?)
By John Gideon on 12/17/2005 3:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.org

Hans von Spakovsky. A German industrialist? A compatriot of artist Hieronymus Bosch? No. He is an attorney who is presently the head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Voting Section. He is a member of the right-wing Federalist Society, and joined other Bush cronies in the Florida recount battle in 2000, and he is President Bush's newest recipient of a crony-nomination.

According to an article in today's Washington Post, von Spakovsky was nominated to the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

The nomination of von Spakovsky, a Republican, has already raised the hackles of some Democrats. According to WaPo:

In a letter to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) wrote that he is "extremely troubled" by the von Spakovsky nomination. Kennedy contends that von Spakovsky "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws."

WaPo added this:

Career Justice Department lawyers involved in a Georgia case said von Spakovsky pushed strongly for approval of a state program requiring voters to have photo identification. A team of staff lawyers that examined the case recommended 4 to 1 that the Georgia plan should be rejected because it would harm black voters; the recommendation was overruled by von Spakovsky and other senior officials in the Civil Rights Division.

Before working in the Justice Department, von Spakovsky was the Republican Party chairman in Fulton County, Ga., and served on the board of the Voter Integrity Project, which advocated regular purging of voter roles to prevent felons from casting ballots.

It is clear that von Spakovsky had the ear of another "crony nomination" recipient, Alberto Gonzales, when it came to making decisions on the Georgia Voter ID issue and Texas redistricting, both of which had been recommended against by the Justice Departments' career professionals in the Voting Rights Division, but were given acceptance by the DoJ anyway.

The Georgia law has since been found unconstitutional as a "Jim Crow-era Poll Tax" by two Federal courts, and the Texas redistricting, concerning which former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay now faces indictments, has just been agreed to be looked at by the United States Supreme Court.

One other very notable point here. A Democrat, Robert D. Lenhard, has also been nominated to the FEC by Bush. As pointed out by Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake: "He's the husband of [Time Magazine reporter] Viveca Novak, whose testimony now provides the foundation for Karl Rove's defense in the CIA leak case."

As well, Lenhard was "quite helpful to the 1600 Crew as part of the legal team that challenged the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law," according to Jane.

Neither point, as Jane noted, was in either the White House Press Release or the WaPo's stenographic reporting of same.

Additional reporting on this story by Brad Friedman

CORRECTION: Our originally posted version of this story had reported von Spakovsky, instead of Lenhard, as the husband of TIME reporter, Vivica Novak. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.




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