Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Justice and Peace

By Philip Champon

The connection between Peace and Justice is an idea many of us are familiar with and something we believe in. To ensure that Peace is attained and Justice is restored requires our constant attention and to that end, the Senate Committee on Rules and Adminstration met with four men on June 13th to determine whether they were suitable comissioners for the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

The FEC is a small, albeit important department within the executive branch of our government. The commission is made up of six members, three Democrats and three Republicans. This groups handles a myriad of election related issues including campaign finance reporting, enforcement, etc. They've apparently been quite busy of late, taking in a whopping 4.1mm in fines and prosecuting a record number of cases as well.

There is one appointee of particular interest to our cause, Hans von Spakovsky. Mr von Spakovsky has been serving as a recess appointed commissioner since January 4, 2006 and President Bush would like him to be a member of the FEC until April 30, 2011. Spakovsky's ascension to this position puts the cynicism of the administration on full display... All you need to do is review his record.

Hans has worked dilligently over the years for "voters' rights". Historically, both Democrats and Republicans have committed resources to this fight, using very different tactics. Democrats have often pursued "voter access" laws, making it easier for citizens to register to vote. Mr von Spakovsky sits squarely on the side of "voter integrity", a euphemism for the GOPs attempts to discourage and discount minority votes.

On behalf of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Spakovsky wrote an article supporting the purging of voter rolls for the Atlanta area, way back in 1997. This cause was taken up by the Voter Integrity Project (the GOP certainly does have a handle on spin and marketing) and they ultimately contracted with ChoicePoint, of Florida fame. During the '00 snafu in Florida, Spakovsky also volunteered for the Bush campaing, though his role is unclear.

Within a year of his benevolent volunteer work in Florida he landed a job with the Department of Justice as an attorney in the Voting Section and quickly ascended to counsel for the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division. As counsel to the AAG, Mr von Spakovsky would review numerous voting rights laws and actions, no doubt injecting his heinous, partisan cronyism into an increasingly politicized DOJ (we can't know for sure, because he cited client attorney privilege during his testimony). Spakovsky failed to recuse himself when Georgia came knocking, looking to implement their lopsided voter ID law. He also apparently sided with the Texas Republicans, during their redistricting efforts... Again citing client attorney privilege, Spakovsky declined to share the advice he gave to superiors, but he said he thought, "they made the correct decision."

The Georgia case is particularly troubling, because Spakovsky wrote a paper, under the pseudonym "Publius", in advance of the decision made by DOJ, supporting the ID regime. This raised speculation that his allegiance had already been sold. Furthermore, Spakovsky disregarded the opinions of career members of the DOJ to help enact the new Georgia laws. The voter ID cards, it was later found, could only be purchased in some 50 locations within the state and not one of those could be found in Atlanta. Fortunately, these laws were eventually struck down as unconstitutional and lambasted as, "Jim Crow-era poll taxes."

As if all of this wasn't enough (and there's more), six senior people from DOJ's Civil Rights division and numerous individuals sent letters urging the Senate committee to reject this man's appointment to the FEC.

For more details, see TPM Muck Raker, Jeffery Toobin, Wikipedia,, CLC Blog and McClatchy

Accepting this man as a commissioner on the FEC would be a major set back for all of us. Please contact your Senator and urge them to reject Hans von Spakovsky's appointment.

Dianne Feinstein, CA Chairman
Robert C. Byrd
Daniel K. Inouye
Christopher J. Dodd
Charles E. Schumer
Richard J. Durbin
E. Benjamin Nelson
Harry Reid
Patty Murray
Mark L. Pryor

Robert Bennett, UT Ranking Member
Ted Stevens
Mitch McConnell
Thad Cochran
Trent Lott
Kay Bailey Hutchison
C. Saxby Chambliss
Chuck Hagel
Lamar Alexander

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