When I reported on September 19 that partisan career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice were planning on criminally targeting Republican political activists and candidates, this was treated with disbelief by some. In fact, Rick Hasen, a liberal law professor at Loyola who runs the popular Election Law Blog , a website concentrating on voting and election developments, expressed his skepticism “of such anonymous claims.”
Well, those claims have proven all too real to former Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, who ran for office in the 47th Congressional District of California in 2006 against incumbent Loretta Sanchez. On October 1, the Civil Rights Division announced the indictment of Nguyen for obstruction of justice for supposedly making “misleading statements to investigators” regarding a letter that was sent to Latino voters during the election. This investigation and indictment represents a particularly egregious example of the government persecuting someone for engaging in perfectly legal behavior. Essentially, Nguyen is being prosecuted for having informed voters of the truth, although it is a truth disliked by the career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division.
The letter (in Spanish) that is the basis of the indictment was apparently sent out to Latino voters by the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR). It told voters that if they were a citizen of the United States, they should “participate in the democratic process of voting.” However, the letter warned voters that if they were residing in this country illegally, “voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time” and for which they could be deported. The letter made clear that voting in any election “if you are not a citizen of the United States” would be “useless and dangerous.”
It is important to realize that everything said in this letter is absolutely true. There are a number of federal statutes that make it illegal for someone to falsely claim citizenship when registering to vote or to vote in federal elections if not a citizen. But informing voters that they have to be citizens to vote is highly offensive to the political left, especially organizations like La Raza or MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and their allies in the career ranks of the Civil Rights Division.
As described in the September 19 article, lawyers in the Civil Rights Division said at an internal DOJ training session this summer that they considered sending mailers informing individuals of the citizenship requirement for voting an example of voter “suppression.” Although they acknowledged there was no federal criminal statute making this illegal, they proposed using federal grand juries to go after anyone who engaged in this type of behavior. They have now fulfilled that promise.