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...
Iglesias, who was one of nine U.S. attorneys the administration fired last year, said that Albuquerque lawyer Patrick Rogers pressured him several times to bring voter fraud prosecutions where little evidence existed. Iglesias believes that he was fired in part because he failed to pursue such cases.
He described Rogers, who declined to discuss the exchanges, as “obsessed . . . convinced there was massive voter fraud going on in this state, and I needed to do something to stop it."
Iglesias said he only recently learned of Rogers’ involvement as secretary of the non-profit American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund
We should note that Jason Leopold at Truthout was the first, to our knowledge, to unearth the ACVR connection in New Mexico, in his May interview with Iglesias.
Gordon advances that ball, and then connects the big picture dots --- otherwise spread all over The BRAD BLOG --- by cogently summarizing the three overarching branches of the GOP strategy to game the front end of American elections, adding that "Nowhere was the breadth of these actions more obvious than at the American Center for Voting Rights and its legislative fund."
- Tax-exempt groups such as the American Center and the Lawyers Association were deployed in battleground states to press for restrictive ID laws and oversee balloting.
- The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division turned traditional voting rights enforcement upside down with legal policies that narrowed rather than protected the rights of minorities.
- The White House and the Justice Department encouraged selected U.S. attorneys to bring voter fraud prosecutions, despite studies showing that election fraud isn't a widespread problem.
Nowhere was the breadth of these actions more obvious than at the American Center for Voting Rights and its legislative fund.
Gordon goes on to note that ACVR "hired lobbyists in Missouri and Pennsylvania to win support for photo ID laws," and that "With a push from the center’s lobbyists, legislatures in Missouri and Pennsylvania passed photo ID laws last year."
Funny that, since, as we reported just last month, the ACVR lied about such activities on their public 990 tax forms [PDF], checking the "NO" box in reply to the question: "During the year, has the organization attempted to influence national, state, or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum?"
While we're no attorney (even if they are), it sure smells like tax fraud to us. At the very least.
As to the group's still-mysterious funding --- Gordon pins their budget at some $1.5 million --- it's reported that RNC attorney Alex Vogel's consulting/law firm received $75,000 for whatever the hell it is they did to aid and abet, along with all of the big time GOP players in this "non-partisan" group. Vogel claims the ACVR cash came from unnamed "private donors, not from the Republican Party."
We look forward to further peeling of the onion to learn just who those "private donors" are. (Someone might want to give James Baker's Baker/Botts lawfirm in Dallas a call to ask a few questions. We're just saying.)
Once again, Thor Hearne, who appears to be talking, at least via email, with media again after his attempt at ducking the limelight has proved fruitless, provides the biggest gut-buster in the story:
Hearne, who also was a vice president and director of election operations for the Republican Lawyers Association, said he couldn't discuss the organizations because they're former clients.
"They're" former clients, Thor? Who are "they," Thor? You are your own "clients." Unless you want to tell us who "they" are, Thor. We'll be coming to St. Louis shortly, and would be happy to sit down with you at your favorite Ladue coffee spot if you'd like to answer that question.
But the yucks don't stop there. Here's more from Thor's email to Gordon, which he presumably sent with a straight face:
"Requiring a government-issued photo ID in order to vote as a safeguard against vote fraud and as a measure to increase public confidence in the fairness and honesty of our elections is not some Republican voter suppression effort," Hearne said.
Hearne called photo IDs "an important voice in election reform."
Unfortunately, the piece doesn't end so humorously. But rather, on a haunting note. In noting the hasty "disappearance" of the ACVR, just as the spotlight began to shine in their direction during the U.S. Attorney Purge investigation, Gordon takes us out this way...
One of the directors of the American Center, Cameron Quinn, who lists her membership in the Republican National Lawyers Association on her resume, was appointed last year as the voting counsel for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The division is charged with policing elections and guarding against discrimination against minorities.