"I am not a victim," Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the Rightwing voter suppression group calling themselves "True the Vote" told members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning. It was an odd turn of phrase given all that came before it in her testimony, both written and oral, at the confirmation hearings for U.S. Attorney General-nominee Loretta Lynch.
"I'm here today because I was targeted by the government for daring to speak out," the non-victim informed the Senators and those watching via C-Span at the very top of her remarks, much of which followed her written testimony [PDF] submitted in advance, and much of which did not. She is, she explained, just "one of thousands of Americans who have become living examples of a kind of trickle down tyranny that is actively endorsed by the current Administration and rigorously enforced by the Department of Justice."
"Over the years it has become clear to me that they don't just want True the Vote shut down, they want me broken," Engelbrecht wrote dramatically, but, for some reason, didn't say during her spoken testimony [video posted at the end of this article].
But, remember, she is "not a victim" at all. She is, on the other hand, the head of a wingnut Tea Party grifter organization which has, as we described in detail earlier this week, stepped on one rake after another since its ignominious appearance on the "voting rights" scene in 2010 when, in their introductory video, the group included a Photoshopped photo of an African-American woman holding a sign at a protest reading: "I ONLY GOT TO VOTE ONCE!" Another faked sign behind her head read "I'M WITH STUPID." (In actuality, as the original photos from a protest during the Presidential election theft in Florida in 2000 show, the woman's sign read: "DON'T MESS WITH OUR VOTES." The sign behind her had read "Gore/Lieberman 2000.")
During her testimony, Engelbrecht, after years of faking voter fraud statistics to try and help the GOP case for polling place Photo ID restrictions, even had the temerity to describe her organization as "a national non-profit initiative to protect voters' rights and promote election integrity."
Faking the truth seems to come easy to Engelbrecht and her group, as they've spent years attempting to intimidate voters at the polls under the guise of protecting against pretend Democratic "voter fraud". At the Senate hearing on Thursday, however, it was often what she didn't say during her oral testimony, as contrasted with her written testimony submitted beforehand, that may have been most revealing.
For some reason, for example, she --- or, perhaps a staffer on the new Republican-majority Senate committee --- must have thought it better not to discuss "pigment of skin" in polite company at the confirmation hearings for the first African-American woman to be nominated as the nation's chief law enforcement official. That part didn't make it into to Engelbrecht's spoken outrage...
Last September, when current AG Eric Holder announced his plans to resign after a successor was sworn in, True the Vote released a statement quoting Engelbrecht blasting what she described as the first African-American AG's "radical, racialist assault on voters' rights across America."
"Engelbrecht has called voter protection efforts 'race baiting,' an attempt to 'exact racial justice on their presumed enemies,' and even called Attorney General Holder's defense of the freedom to vote a 'radical, racialist assault on voting rights,'" ColorOfChange.org's Executive Director Rashad Robinson said prior to the hearings. "These remarks should prohibit her from testifying on an expert panel to confirm the first black female AG."
But the remarks didn't prohibit her from testifying. In fact, they arguably may have helped win Engelbrecht her ticket to be an "expert witness" in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, where, according to her written testimony, she was prepared to repeat the "radical, racialist" charge. That part, however, didn't make it into her oral testimony, it seems.
Engelbrecht --- "not a victim", remember --- spent the bulk of her time speaking to what she believes is a conspiracy by the federal government to destroy her. Since filing for a tax exemption as a supposed non-partisan, non-profit organization, she explained, the government has been relentless in its assault against her.
"Since those filings in 2010, my private businesses, my non-profit organizations, and I personally, have been subjected to more than fifteen instances of audit, inquiry, or investigation by federal agencies, including; the IRS, OSHA, ATF, and the FBI."
She didn't explain if any of those supposed inquiries and investigations (she described them as an "inquisition" during her oral testimony) had anything to do with the time True the Vote polling place observers were denied access to precincts by every member, both Republican and Democratic, of the Franklin County, Ohio Board of Elections after it was determined that the group had forged signatures on the permission forms. Or maybe federal authorities wanted to chat with Engelbrecht about the time the NAACP Houston branch accused the Houston-based TTV of having "attacked" volunteers for legally assisting disabled and elderly voters at the polls.
The NAACP was forced to release a statement about True the Vote, who they described as "a right wing extremist group", on Election Day 2012, after they said TTV's poll watchers attacked "volunteer poll monitors for handing out water to voters at Early Vote locations and for assisting Disabled and Elderly voters by standing in line for them or asking younger people in line to let the elderly and disabled go ahead of them in the line to vote."
Perhaps that was one of the reasons the FBI wanted to talk to Engelbrecht? She didn't mention that incident one way or another to the U.S. Senators via either written or oral testimony when she described the "government subterfuge" that has been unleashed against her.
Engelbrecht didn't tell the Senators, as she had prepared to in her written testimony, that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Instead, she asked at that point in her remarks: "Is there the will to ever get to truth behind this nightmare of citizen targeting?"
Part of that "citizen targeting", no doubt, includes the time last year when revered, conservative, Reagan-appointed federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner described True the Vote's "evidence" of massive Democratic voter fraud as "downright goofy, if not paranoid."
While there is no evidence that Rightwing con-artist groups like True the Vote were targeted in some sort of criminal political conspiracy by Holder or Obama or the IRS (which should have targeted such scam operations, of any political bent, for taking advantage of the tax-code for partisan purposes), once Engelbrecht finished explaining her non-victim status as a victim of virtually every Executive Branch agency, she moved on to her real passion: pretend "voter fraud" and the fight to ensure some 20 million legally registered American voters lose their right to vote for the crime of not owning one of a handful of state-issued photo IDs that Republicans find acceptable for voting.
But with ACORN now out of business --- the community organization targeted for years by the Right, including Engelbrecht who decried them in TTV's introductory video, even as she was unable to cite any actual evidence of voter fraud by the group when we asked for it in 2010 (because none actually exists) --- "voter fraud" fraudsters need fresh villains. And Engelbrecht has found them in "illegal aliens" who are, apparently, "flooding" government agencies to register to vote.
Well, the depth of that "flood" may depend on whether one examines her written or oral testimony. The facts of the matter seem to have changed somewhat between the time Engelbrecht submitted her written version, when "Drivers License Offices" were "being flooded with new requests" by non-citizens "registering in droves" to vote, and the time the words actually came out of her mouth in the Senate hearing room, when the concern had subsided to only a "coming influx of illegal aliens"...
With the illegal alien voting situation somewhat less dire, apparently, than she had previously thought, perhaps the "complete chaos" she had also originally predicted --- or hoped to incite --- wasn't as appropriate for her closing remarks.
What she said, as seemingly ripped straight from the gullet of every Fox "News" pundit, was this:
We have replaced rule of law with moral relativism. We have replaced truth with political correctness. And in all of the double-speak and double-think, we have become increasingly unsteady about how we the people factor in to a future left into the hands of our current leaders.
What she had originally planned to say, or warn, or threaten, as revealed in her written testimony, is this:
So writes the messenger...Who is totally not a victim.
Engelbrecht's written testimony is here [PDF]. Her actual testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on 1/29/2015 follows below...
Previous coverage of True the Vote by The BRAD BLOG:
9/22/2010: "Houston Voting Machine Fire Update and Shouting 'Voter Fraud' in a Crowded Midterm Election"
11/6/2012: "True the Fraudsters: Rightwing 'True the Vote' Forged Pollwatcher Applications in Ohio"
11/6/2012: "Houston NAACP: 'True the Vote' 'Attacking' Volunteers for Giving Water to Voters in Line"
12/10/2012: "'True the Vote' Fakes the 'Voter Fraud'"
11/14/2013: "U.S. Government Opposes Motion By Right Wing 'True the Vote' to Intervene in TX Photo ID Case"
12/16/2013: "Federal Court Denies 'True the Vote' Attempt to Intervene in Texas Photo ID Restriction Law Case"
12/20/2013: "Disgraced Former Members of Bush Justice Department Challenge Order Denying 'True the Vote' Intervention in Texas Photo ID Case"
10/11/2014: "Reagan-Appointed Federal Judge Who Approved First Photo ID Law in 2008 Writes Devastating Dissent AGAINST Photo ID Voting Restrictions"
11/6/2014: "Rightwing 'Voter Integrity' Group 'True the Vote' Fails To Find Polling Place 'Voter Fraud' (Again)"
1/26/2015: "Senate Repubs Call Founder of Fake 'Voter Fraud' Group to Testify at Real AG Nomination Hearings"
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)