According to a February email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, activists at the right-wing Heritage Foundation demanded the Trump administration stack the deck against Democrats and voting rights activists from the beginning.
The so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, chaired by Mike Pence and voter suppression expert Kris Kobach, was always intended to produce ideas to make it harder to vote, not easier.
The commission took extra care to leave out input from anyone who has actually faced obstacles to the ballot, with the latest meeting in New Hampshire featuring only white men.
As it turns out, this was the conscious goal from the start.
An email from February, obtained by the Campaign Legal Center through the Freedom of Information Act, outlines how activists at the far-right Heritage Foundation demanded Attorney General Jeff Sessions ensure Democrats be excluded from the commission.
Their reasoning? Democratic officials wouldn’t “do anything other than obstruct any investigation of voter fraud,” and instead would “issue constant public announcements criticizing the commission and what it is doing, making claims that it is engaged in voter suppression.”
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) September 12, 2017
Of course, with someone like Kobach on board, it’s painfully obvious that the commission is indeed focused on voter suppression.
The Heritage Foundation identified the redacted individual who wrote this email as Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer, former Federal Election Commission official, and longtime voter fraud conspiracy theorist who sits on Pence’s election commission:
— dell "doesn't write about bitcoin" cameron (@dellcam) September 12, 2017
Initially, when asked by a reporter whether he was the author of the email, Spakovsky flat-out lied. Heritage tried to distance themselves from Spakovsky, insisting they are “scrupulously nonpartisan” and “the views expressed in the email are his own.”
The fact Pence and Sessions would not only follow Spakovsky’s advice to silence Democrats, but give him a job on this commission, speaks volumes about what the operation is truly about.
And it reveals the contempt for voting rights and bipartisanship held not only by this administration, but by much of the modern conservative movement.