August 25, 2009
Worse than the fox guarding the chicken coop
Instead of hiring the fox to guard the chicken coop, why not hire him to give advice on chicken coop security? That seems to be the attitude behind the appointment of voter suppression guru Hans Von Spakovsky to an advisory position in Virginia. http://www.virginiafreepress.org/2009/07/11/vote-suppression-expert-spakovsky-about-to-be-confirmed-in-volunteer-civil-rights-post/
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission apparently couldn’t find another way to keep Von Spakovsky involved in his favorite pastime — finding ingenious new ways to keep minority voters (especially Democratic-leaning ones) from exercising their rights at the ballot box.
For those who are not familiar with Von Spakovsky’s track record here is a brief synopsis:
Von Spakovsky got his start in Georgia, where he worked to institute stringent voter ID requirements and disenfranchise felons. He had a hand in the notorious voter purges in Florida before the 2000 Presidential election that kept thousands of legitimate registered voters from being able to vote and helped tip the election to George W. Bush. Then he moved on to the Bush Justice Department where he was involved in approving Tom Delay’s midterm redistricting scheme. He also had a hand in giving a stamp of approval to several other voting rights suppression ploys. For instance, Von Spakovsky was instrumental in the DOJ’s decision not to investigate a decision by Minnesota’s Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer to not accept tribal ID cards for voter identification by American Indians living outside reservations. The net effect of these actions on Von Spakovsky’s part was to deny voting rights to tens of thousands of Americans — and tip elections in favor of the GOP.
With a track record like this, it is no wonder that Senators Diane Feinstein and Barack Obama placed a hold on his nomination by the Bush administration to fill a vacancy on the Federal Elections Commission. This 2007 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Joseph J. Rich, former Chief of the DOJ Voting Rights Section (1999-2005) is a devastating indictment of Von Spakovsky’s tenure at the DOJ. http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/letter-rules-vonspakovsky/?resultpage=1&
It says in part:
… he consistently used this position to promote partisan political interest through narrow interpretations of HAVA, refocusing the Department’s National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) activities, refusing to allow investigations under the Voting Rights Act based on discrimination in African-American and Native American communities and redirecting limited resources to a partisan search for unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
It’s no wonder that the Senate refused to confirm him to the FEC. Instead he got a short-term recess appointment to the Commission and finally withdrew his name from consideration when it was apparent that he had no chance of confirmation.
Since then he has gotten his current advisory gig as well as a consulting position with the the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, courtesy of his buddy from the DOJ and Heritage Foundation Todd Gaziano. http://www.mainjustice.com/2009/07/10/spakovsky-hopes-to-return-to-voting-rights-agency/
Spakovsky was actually hired by the commission last August  as a consultant and temporary full-time employee at the behest of Commissioner Todd Gaziano. Gaziano told TPMMuckraker that he was also one of the people who recommended Spakovsky for the volunteer position with the advisory committee. Gaziano is the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and has served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Von Spakovsky should be barred from having any role in voting rights policy or enforcement. Instead of wearing white sheets, Von Spakovsky and his buddies keep finding new, sophisticated and insidious techniques of voter suppression — computers for massive purges of the voter rolls and restrictive voter ID requirements. When all else fails, they just find ways to NOT enforce existing laws, like, for instance, HAVA, VRA and NVRA.
Tell me once again why we need his “diversity of views” included on the Civil Rights Advisory Panel? Von Spakovsky is an Orwellian choice to give advice on voting rights enforcement.
Can’t we find a way to ban this guy from any position involving voting rights? After all embezzlers are barred from working for financial institutions.
Better yet, what about a fox hunt — let’s set the hounds on him and chase him away from the chicken coop.