Friday, December 19, 2014

The Impact of Obama’s Executive Amnesty on the Integrity of Our Elections

Part of the fallout from President Obama’s granting tentative legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants is the impact on the integrity of our elections, specifically is the concern it will make it easier for those covered to register to vote and vote. This issue is explored in a piece today in Bloomberg View that argues Obama’s executive action may spur states to push for laws requiring proof of citizenship to register and/or beefed up ID requirements.

Adding another five million to the already several million legal immigrants in the U.S. is undoubtedly going to further expose the vulnerabilities states have in keeping non-citizens off the voter rolls. Except for a few states with explicit proof of citizenship requirements, there is simply no automatic check election officials have to confirm for certain whether an individual registering to vote is a citizen. As Bloomberg points out, “[v]oters typically register by providing a driver's license or Social Security number. Since noncitizen legal residents are eligible for such documentation –- which the Supreme Court affirmed this week -- Obama’s executive actions raise the possibility that more might illegally register to vote.”

To many Americans’ surprise, there is no national citizenship database available to election officials. They use Social Security, DMV, and other database information in addition to voters’ self-affirming their U.S. citizenship on applications, but as Bloomberg points out you do not need to be a citizen to obtain a Driver’s License or a Social Security Number. Ultimately, our system depends on individuals being honest and certainly most are. The honor system, however, is no way to ensure the integrity of our voter rolls.

We already know non-citizens are getting on the rolls and with more now likely being eligible for social security numbers and other government credentials, the problem will grow. Bloomberg writes about North Carolina:
North Carolina recently conducted an audit of its voter rolls and found more than 1,400 possible noncitizens. More than 200 of them had voted (possibly legally), and 98 of them were registered even though they checked “No” when asked if they were U.S. citizens, because they signed the form attesting that they were.
This is in addition to a recent jaw dropping study from Professors at Old Dominion University that showed the impact on non-citizen voting and how it can (and likely has already) made the difference in close elections. Bloomberg fairly blames Democrats for their absolute refusal to support election officials’ attempts to remove non-citizens and provides some practical recommendations:
The question of how to prevent noncitizen registration and voting is a legitimate one, but thus far Democrats have shown little interest in answering it. Yet there are plenty of ways to use technology to improve ballot security, while also making it easier to vote.
For instance, now that nearly every state has a computerized database of registered voters, confirming someone’s citizenship should be relatively easy to do. Data-sharing among state and federal agencies could solve much of the proof-of-citizenship problem without putting unnecessary burdens on eligible voters.
Let’s hope Democrats don’t exacerbate one of the many problems created by Obama’s Executive Amnesty. Obama has put the electoral system at risk by making it easier for illegal non-citizens to register to vote. Democrats, including Obama’s DOJ, should support rather than fight efforts to keep these individuals from voting. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

President Obama Sabotaging Our Elections and Making Elections More Parisian

The President took a step forward toward making elections less partisan and more open fair and honest with the Presidential Commission on Election Administration he announced in his 2013 State of the Union.   While parts of the report of the commission were Democrat talking points (more early voting despite the overwhelming evidence that early voting does not help with turnout), the report led by his own former counsel Robert Bauer had a number of items RNLA could agree with and that garnered support from all sides of the political spectrum.   

Now, however, he is taking two steps backward on election administration with a nominee put forward as a political reward with ZERO background in Election Administration.  As Hans von Spakovsky highlights:

On Nov. 19, the White House issued a press release announcing that it was withdrawing the nomination of Myrna Perez, a lawyer at the Brennan Center, to be a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). It instead nominated Matthew S. Butler, the former CEO and president of the George Soros-funded left-wing advocacy group Media Matters, to replace her.

The EAC is a bipartisan agency created in 2004 by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the election reform law that Congress passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential election and the controversy over what happened in Florida. The EAC, which is governed by four full-time commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans — is supposed to assist and guide state and local election administrators in improving the administration of elections for federal office.  The EAC serves as a national clearinghouse and resource for information about the best practices in election administration. It is also responsible for the accreditation of testing laboratories and the certification, decertification, and recertification of voting systems, like the electronic voting machines many people use when they vote in their precincts. .  . .

He[Butler]  has been a leader and organizer of the progressive movement, and the head of Media Matters when it was acting as an unofficial PR wing of the White House and the Justice Department. As first reported in 2012 by Matthew Boyle [2], the administration was working with Media Matters “in an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing [Eric] Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency,” including using Media Matters “to attack reporters” at Townhall, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, Fox News, and National Review.
The other three new commissioners on the EAC, in stark contrast to the former Media Matters CEO and president, actually have relevant election experience.

. . . Most disappointingly, the nomination of an individual with no relevant experience in the area he is tasked with administering looks like political patronage of the worst kind. President Obama has rewarded Media Matters for its underhanded, deceitful, behind-the-scenes help in going after reporters and others who were raising legitimate concerns about the questionable actions of the administration. This also does not portend well for having a bipartisan agency that tries to act in the best interests of the American voter as opposed to the best interests of one particular political party and its candidates.

President Obama has been using Ambassadorships to pay off political supporters for a while.  This is arguably much worse as this a position with a serious opportunity for political mischief.  We can only hope that Mr. Butler’s nomination is withdrawn before the next Congress.  If not, we hope that Democrats will join with Republicans in opposing this unqualified partisan.  Shame on President Obama for walking away from his 2013 State of the Union commitment on election administration.   

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Election Fraud Conviction of Community Organizer in Michigan

Christian Adams at Election Law Center has a good scoop on a recent election fraud conviction of a local left-wing political activist in Southwest Michigan:
A far-left community organizer is going to jail for at least 2 and a half years for election fraud in Michigan.  Edward Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for rigging a recall election for the mayor of Benton Harbor Michigan.
This is your classic case of petition shenanigans including Pinkney fraudulently changing dates on petitions and having people sign them multiple times. As Adams writes, “[a]t the root of the crime was a recall election.  Far left groups had targeted the mayor of Benton Harbor arguing in the (ironically named) ‘People’s Tribune’ that ‘an economic system that doesn’t feed, clothe, and house its people must be overturned and replaced with a system that meets the needs of the people.’ ”

It seems like in many instances petition fraudsters are able to plea or negotiate out of having to serving prison time, but as it turns out this wasn't Pinkney's first offense or even his first election fraud offense. As the local news reports:
His first run in with the law was 1988 for assault with a dangerous weapon out of California, followed in 1990 by a theft conviction out of St. Louis, Missouri, then in 1999 was convicted in Berrien County of embezzlement and in 2007 was convicted 4 felony counts of violating election laws.
As we have seen in past convictions of voter fraud, activists rallied to Pinkney’s side demanding he be freed although apparently most were not local residents: “The judge received more then 100 letters of support for Pinkney, but noted that many letters were duplicates. He said of all those he received only one letter was from a resident of Southwest Michigan.” Democratic City Commissioner Marcus Muhammed went as far as to call the court convicting Pinkney a "kangaroo court." 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tea Party stance against Cromnibus Campaign Finance Rider Misguided

RNLA campaign finance blogger Paul Jossey wrote an op-ed in the Daily Caller about Tea Party resistance to the ‘Cromnibus’ campaign finance rider. This apprehension is misplaced. It ignores the benefits stronger parties play in stabilizing government.

The campaign finance rider will expand the number of accounts for the national committees and increase the biennial limit for an individual to over $1.5 million.

The move predictably sent campaign finance reformers into overwrought warnings about the future of the republic. Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer evoked late-Medieval German mysticism, comparing the rider to the central European legend of Faust. According to the myth, the restless scholar—eager for learning and prurient exploits—traded eternal damnation for years of earthly knowledge and the seduction of the innocent maiden ‘Gretchen.’

But it wasn’t just the reformers waxing hyperbolic about the rider. The Wall Street Journal compiled a list of Tea Party-affiliated groups lamenting the rider’s potential effect of aiding establishment candidates over insurgent challengers.
The rider will undoubtedly benefit the parties, but they will still operate with significant structural disadvantages compared to independent groups, which can collect unlimited contributions. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (purposely) and Citizens United v. FEC (unwittingly) gutted the parties’ core functions of messaging, field operations, and fundraising—and destabilized the political system in the process.

BCRA eliminated federal “soft money,” which the parties used for party-building activities and issue advertising. The ban blew a $500,000,000 hole in combined national party budgets and virtually eliminated their coordination with state and local counterparts—many of which are now on life support. National committees fared better in BCRA’s immediate aftermath but the post-Citizens United rise of Super PACs siphoned money and talent away from the parties and into these less regulated vehicles.

In the 18 recent Senate races that had $1 million or more of independent expenditures, candidates raised $333.1 million; non-party organizations spent $310.4 million, while parties spent just $92.1 million.

And it’s not only advertising budgets. Party field operations have also suffered as when Battleground Texas essentially took over field operations for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. The group—brainchild of Obama campaign veterans—refused to share data, clashed with local party organizations, and assured Ms. Davis’s sinking campaign would become a national embarrassment.

Everyone should have the right to freely associate under whatever banner they choose to try to influence elections. Healthy parties do provide strong candidates and ultimately more stable government. The rider will take a small step toward achieving those goals.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CIA Scandal: "She Never Objected"

The CIA controversy has stirred some heated passions.  That is why the words of someone who is a former Democrat House Member of the Intelligence Committee and a former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson so revealing when he states: “And I think a lot of this is personal” between the CIA, Democrats and Senator Feinstein. 

The reality is the key Democrats knew about it.  As the former Director of the National Clandestine Service (D/NCS) of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Jose Rodriguez who was there stated on Fox Sunday with Chris Wallace:

“I remember very clearly briefing Nancy Pelosi in September of 2002. The Congress had been on break. . . . We briefed her specifically on the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah. So, she knew back in September of 2002 every one of our enhanced interrogation --

WALLACE: Let me ask you specifically, did you tell her about waterboarding? Did you tell her about --

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. . . .  I briefed her on all of the techniques. These people were fully aware of all the techniques that were given to us and approved by the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice. 

WALLACE: And did -- just to take the example you gave us, Nancy Pelosi, did she ever object to the techniques you mentioned?

RODRIGUEZ: She never objected to the techniques at all.

Once again Democrats are playing politics with an issue of vital national security.  For more details check out the show transcript from Fox News Sunday this week. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Award for Most Hysterical Reaction to Omnibus Campaign Finance Rider Goes To…

Predictably, those in the campaign finance “reform” community are losing their collective mind over the campaign finance rider in the omnibus spending bill passed by the House yesterday. It has simply not been a few good years for the reformers with defeat after defeat and a President who has done nothing for the cause of campaign finance reform beyond scolding Justice Alito at the State of the Union about the impact of Citizens United.

While reactions have generally been pretty hyperbolic, the award has to go to Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 who stated the rider was the “most destructive and corrupting campaign-finance provisions ever enacted by Congress.”

That is quite a statement! Reformers topic du jour has been so-called “dark money” infiltrating politics in the wake of recent court decisions. This measure by congress actually works to counter dark money as the two major party committees are perhaps the most regulated and transparent entities regulated by the FEC. As FEC Chairman Lee Goodman stated, “every dollar contributed to the parties is disclosed to the public.” These contributions will be no different 

RNLA will keep you posted as to the impact this provision will have, assuming it becomes law.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Congress puts campaign finance reformers on the naughty list

Campaign finance reformers must have been very naughty this year. As the legislative season ends with a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, the reformers have assumed their familiar finger-waving posture about a campaign finance rider tucked into page 1599 of the 1603-page bill.

The rider allows individuals to contribute beyond the current two-year maximum to three additional accounts to help parties defray the costs of conventions, buildings, and recounts. In total, the rider would allow individuals to donate over $1.5 million biennially if they max out to all accounts with all the party’s national committees.

This total is a rounding error compared to the unlimited amount an individual can give to a Super PAC. For instance, NextGen Climate Action, run by radical environmentalist Tom Steyer, raised over $77 million this cycle, mostly from his own pocket.

The rider will no doubt aid the political parties who have lost ground to Super PACs and politically active nonprofits in all three of their core functions: fundraising, messaging, and field operations. In some cases, the usurpation has spelled disaster for the candidate, as when Battleground Texas essentially took over field operations for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. The group—brainchild of Obama campaign veterans—refused to share data, clashed with local party organizations, and assured Ms. Davis’s sinking campaign would become a national embarrassment.

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, recognizing the vital role of political parties, welcomed the measure. “This legislation will help the parties serve their essential role in democracy and every dollar contributed to the parties is disclosed to the public.” Even political liberals see the value of redirecting money back into the party system. Noted election law professor Rick Hasen, while bemoaning the McCutcheon decision, praised the effect the case would have on government functioning. And former ACLU counsel Joel Gora coauthored an entire book titled Better Parties, Better Government.

But despite the rider’s obvious benefits to the parties, the reformers were not amused. Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer evoked late-Medieval German mysticism, comparing the rider to the central European legend of Faust. According to the myth, the restless scholar—eager for learning and prurient exploits—traded eternal damnation for years of earthly knowledge and the seduction of the innocent maiden ‘Gretchen.’

The reformers expressed their dismay with a strongly worded, but ultimately futile, one-sentence letter to the Senators warning of the corruption the rider will surely presage. But they may have saved their ire for just one. Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid has spent this entire year demonizing wealthy private citizens for participating in politics. His haggard bromides were so familiar they could have come straight from a Campaign Legal Center press release. Evil plutocrats are “buying democracy,” and “drowning out the voices of the American people.” They are un-American industrialists trading commercially gained wealth for access and influence in the political sphere.

Mr. Reid even fully supported a speech-stifling constitutional amendment that would have put Congress in charge of what is “reasonable” when it comes to how much people can criticize a sitting United States Senator. If anyone is standing up for the little guy it’s Harry Reid.

Or not. According to NPR’s Peter Overby, Mr. Reid could have vetoed the rider and kept it out of the bill. Indeed another campaign finance provision promoted by future Majority leader Mitch McConnell to loosen coordination barriers between candidates and parties got the chopping block. But Reid, showing his true colors, allowed the rider, all while he lambasts political money on the Senate floor and cozies to reformers.

The reformers may not have been so much naughty this year as demoralized. The courts look askance at their arguments, their supposed Congressional allies drop them like a poorly researched Rolling Stone article, and even their friends in academia can’t support them. At least they still have Stephen Colbert.