Generally the first defense of any Secretary of State or chief election official caught in a scandal is to claim partisanship. And Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has quite a scandal on her hands. Secretary Grimes was a darling of MSNBC for her Senate run against Mitch McConnell a few year back. Yet, it is her day job as Secretary of State that is getting her in trouble with both sides of the aisle.
In a nine-page letter to the Kentucky State Board of Elections, State Board of Elections Executive Director Jared Dearing, wrote:
Dearing, a Democrat, said in his letter that since he took the position last year either Grimes or her assistants have asked him and Scutchfield to do things, "we have found to be inappropriate, unethical and potentially illegal."
Among those unethical things are to ignore a consent decree which required Grimes’ office to clean up Kentucky’s voter rolls:
Dearing said in his letter, which he provided to the Courier Journal on Monday, that after about 100,000 postcards were returned he was ordered to stop scanning them by Grimes' staff. He said they were told to "slow walk" the process after he and Scutchfield raised concerns about disobeying the federal court order.
She also may have improperly used the voter registration systems to view employees' voting history and affiliation. In other words, she may have been trying to hire for career and merit-based positions only Democrats and not Green, Libertarian or Republican Party affiliated voters.
And yet another frightening example: she picked poll watchers (which are almost always selected by parties to watch over election officials):
Dearing also said Grimes has given her office the ability to recruit and place poll workers across the state, a task previously handled by county-level political parties and boards of elections, and was given the names and addresses of all 15,000 poll workers in order to send them a thank you letter prior to a contentious election. Previous secretaries of state were not given that information.
“The legislators who created the laws that govern our elections placed a system of checks and balances that would allow no one individual or one political party to have an unfair advantage within the system,” Dearing wrote. “During Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ term in office, many of these checks have been slowly chipped away.”
These allegations mirror those of the former Republican Executive Director last year:
Last October, the former assistant executive director of the State Board of Elections, Matt Selph, filed a whistleblower lawsuit accusing Grimes of many of the same issues raised by Dearing.
The complaint filed by Selph, a Republican, and the letter sent by Dearing are both rooted in allegations that Grimes has improper access to the state’s voter registration system. Dearing alleged that Grimes’s staff was using the database to look up the voting records of elections board staffers and job candidates.
How many Executive Directors of both parties have to accuse Grimes before people start believing the allegations? All sides, Democrat or Republican, Green or Libertarian, should agree that Grimes needs to go.