Up until recently, Tom Hofeller, the RNC staffer singled out in the Tatler piece, was giving speeches highlighting the importance of Section 5 to the GOP. At a National Conference of State Legislatures meeting in 2011, for example, Hofeller shocked some in attendance by casting federal oversight of state elections in an extraordinarily positive light. But that was merely one in a long series of private and public statements demonstrating that some inside the RNC treasured federal oversight of state elections.
In Chairman Reince Priebus’ defense, this behavior may have been occurring without his full knowledge and understanding. He may have learned about it Friday morning when he began receiving calls from angry donors and committee members.
According to the unequivocal position announced last Friday, any RNC effort to reactivate federal oversight of state elections under the Voting Rights Act is dead and buried.
The decades-long flirtation between the RNC and the racial left that ended last Friday has been an unfortunate saga of politics over principle.
Attorney Mike Carvin would lose that Capitol Hill debate in 2006, because days later, the Republican House and Senate passed a 25-year extension of federal election oversight and a Republican president signed it. As part of this unsavory alliance between the racialist left and the RNC in 2006, Republicans permitted not only the federal oversight to extend for a quarter century, but they also raised the hurdle for states to obtain federal approval of election-law changes like voter ID.
This heavier burden, passed with the cooperation of RNC consultants and lawyers, was the singular reason that Texas and South Carolina had their voter identification laws blocked by the Holder Justice Department. Georgia and Florida also suffered under the RNC-endorsed standard when they had citizenship-verification procedures for voters blocked. (See Lee Stranahan’s excellent description of how the math works in “Holder Math: How the Obama DOJ and the Media Tricked South Carolina and Protected Voter Fraud” at Breitbart.com’s Big Government.) It is also the reason Kinston, North Carolina, saw a move to non-partisan elections blocked in 2009.
I worked at the Justice Department for two of these objections, and the RNC-sought 2006 reauthorization gave the leftists inside the Voting Section the tools to block these election-integrity measures.
GOP junkies got hooked on federal oversight to game redistricting all around the nation, while at the same time voter-fraud deniers and the racial left used the same federal power to attack the integrity of American elections.
He who rides a redistricting tiger becomes afraid to dismount. As the RNC clutched the tiger’s ears tightly and created safe racially gerrymandered districts using federal oversight, Section 5 was also used to destroy election integrity and aid the institutional left. Until you see the abuse of power as it happens from inside the DOJ Voting Section as an employee, you simply cannot fathom how the federal power over the states is abused by DOJ bureaucrats.
Or, just ask Texas Governor Rick Perry or South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson about the abuse.
And abuse they did – to the tune of millions of dollars in sanctions against DOJ lawyers and even DOJ employees who have committed perjury in an effort to conceal these abusive ideological biases in the unit given the power to review state election laws.
Those who say that the Justice Department misinterpreted the law are wrong. Language added in 2006 as part of this rotten pact was used to support objections to voter ID and citizenship verification. Simply, the word “any” was added, and it forced states to prove the existence of a negative and prove an absence of any discriminatory effect. The GOP wanted this amendment to help them racially gerrymander legislative seats by making it easier to herd blacks into racial enclaves and bleach out the surrounding area, thus creating white GOP districts. (Again, read Stranahan at Breitbart for a more thorough explanation.)
Of course this may have resulted in more Republican seats at first, but it has also racially divided the country and made politics more polarized. It has also reduced the number of competitive House seats, shifting power to the powerful and snuffing the accountability in House elections the Founders wanted. Most black seats are now protected using different Voting Rights Act provisions, but it’s hard for a junkie to put down the needle.
Fast forward to last Friday’s PJ Tatler exclusive. The reaction was predictable and curious.
After the story hit last Friday, Republican donors and grassroots activists around the country went nuts. Having the RNC seek the same goal as Eric Holder as it relates to election oversight is simply unacceptable in 2013. The donor and grassroots fury should be a lesson to any House Republican looking to re-impose federal burdens on states.
It’s not 2006 anymore. The once dominant GOP crowd that supported federal oversight in 2006 has dwindled. Today, Constitutionalists like Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are in positions of power in the House.
Conservative new media also now pack a wallop in 2013, as we saw last Friday. Any Republican who supports renewed federal oversight will quickly discover their donor base is fully informed of the effort. Websites like Breitbart, PJ Media, and others obviously won’t flinch from taking on Republicans, naming names and making sure donors know which Republicans put partisanship over the Constitution.
If you seek the same aim as Eric Holder and want to resurrect federal oversight over states, be prepared for a rough time with your donors and most reliable grassroots supporters. Information travels faster and wider these days than it did in 2006. And for that, defenders of the Constitution can be thankful.