No Comment — May 21, 2007, 8:49 am

How the GOP Hijacked the Justice Department to Suppress Voters

Under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division was transformed from an organization that defended the voting rights of minorities into a tool in a Republican Party campaign to suppress minority voters, McClatchy Newspapers report. McClatchy says that at least a dozen political appointees at the Department of Justice were involved in the scheme. The key figure was a former Republican Party electoral tactician from Georgia named Hans von Spakovsky.

During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article. Writing as “Publius,” von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was “no evidence” that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters. “Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration’s pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,” charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him. He and other former career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots.

The McClatchy piece documents a long list of antics that von Spakovsky undertook, including:

  • the promotion of “Jim Crow” legislation designed to block minorities from voting,

  • tinkering with a commission studying voter fraud to delay its report and then falsifying the report to suggest that it found there was some basis for voter fraud claims – when it found the opposite,

  • engineering the firing of the Republican chair of the commission because he considered him insufficiently ferocious and partisan.

The McClatchy report provides substantial further detail to accusations which have been laid out before. It also ties closely to the plan to purge U.S. attorneys around the country, as a focal complaint in a large number of cases – most recently demonstrated by evidence coming out of Kansas City – had to do with their failure to participate in the fraudulent voter suppression campaign.

As columnist Marie Coco states in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star, drawing on the McClatchy report, “It is time to stop referring to the ‘fired U.S attorneys scandal’ by that misnomer, and call it what it is: a White House-coordinated effort to use the vast powers of the Justice Department to swing elections to Republicans.” The evidence for this proposition is now overwhelming.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer
Post
Greece, Europe, and the United States·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“A progressive Europe—the Europe of sustainable growth and social cohesion—would be one thing. The gridlocked, reactionary, petty, and vicious Europe that actually exists is another. It cannot and should not last for very long.”

Photograph by Stefan Boness

Percentage of Americans who say they would have cosmetic surgery if they could afford it:

69

An upside-down rainbow appeared over England.

Hackers breached Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates extramarital relationships, compromising the private information of millions of users. “This could be a boon,” said one lawyer, “for divorce attorneys.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today