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A Superfluous Federal Agency Is Caught Discriminating — Again!

This latest scandal involving ugly discrimination against a dedicated member of the military is just another outrageous example of why Congress should shut down the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

by
Hans A. von Spakovsky

Bio

May 24, 2011 - 8:54 am
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On March 14, 2011, DOL informed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that the lawyer’s claim of discrimination was “meritorious and that the claimant is entitled to the position of General Counsel and compensation for lost wages and other benefits.” The DOL letter stated that Hillman asked the lawyer “inappropriate questions regarding his military obligations” during his interview. Even worse, she apparently lied to DOL investigators when she “denied making any comments about [the lawyer’s] military commitments.” Witnesses present during the interview confirmed that Hillman had asked these inappropriate questions.

DOL even has a recording of the closed session at the EAC where the commissioners discussed the two finalists for the General Counsel job, which included the reserve officer. To her credit, Republican Commissioner Gineen Bresso confronted Hillman over her inappropriate questions and the fact that they violated USERRA. In that recording, according to DOL’s letter, “Hillman admitted that she asked questions about [the lawyer’s] reserve duties” — something she later denied to DOL investigators.

DOL’s letter tells OPM that if this is not resolved, the claim will be referred to the Office of Special Counsel, the same office that investigated Hillman and Rodriguez in the earlier case. Once again, it looks like the taxpayers will be saddled with large expenses thanks to the misbehavior of an EAC commissioner.

Rep. Harper has the right idea. He wants to get rid of an agency that has outlived its purpose. After all, its work is done. The Help America Vote Act created the EAC in 2002. Its only purpose: To help implement that law and distribute funds to update voting equipment around the country. These tasks have all been accomplished.

In a recent PJ Media article, Richard Pollock noted that the EAC is an agency without a mission, yet half of its staff earn six-figure incomes. Only one of every three employees works on real programs, and its internal finances are such a mess that it could not be audited. It can’t account for half a million dollars in travel vouchers and wasted $7,000 in taxpayer funds on t-shirts for its employees. The National Association of Secretaries of State, a bipartisan organization that represents the chief election officials of all the states, has twice passed resolutions calling for the EAC to be phased out.

While I was at the Justice Department, I served on the first Board of Advisors of the EAC. I had many interactions with the EAC and its personnel and it was one of the most dysfunctional federal agencies it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. This latest scandal involving ugly discrimination against a dedicated member of the military is just another outrageous example of why Congress should follow the advice of the states’ chief election officials and shut down this unneeded, inept, and discriminatory federal agency.

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Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. He is the coauthor of the book “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”.
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