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Hans Down?

spakovsky.jpgOne of the signs that a nomination is in big trouble is when the planted quote stories start cropping up, and the RedState and other lockstep messaging minions are dispatched to rev up the troops for one last attempt at a surge (no links…you can find the idiocy yourself).  And then…the surge doesn’t come. 

I’m hearing that the Hans von Spakovsky nomination may be in bigger trouble than is publicly known, that the Bush Administration is scrambling to avoid some “I told you so” egg on their faces…and that they may be willing to throw another DOJ civil rights division employee under the bus to try and save von Spakovsky.  And that if action on the nomination doesn’t come before the break for the Thanksgiving holidays, there may be a pulled nomination under consideration.  But not before they try their Tanner “hail Mary.”  (Strictly Beltway cocktail party gossip passed on to me from someone who attended a recent soiree with some Federalist Society and/or former DOJ pals of von Spakovsky.  But a juicy little tidbit if true, isn’t it?)

But first, let’s look at the planted quotes article, shall we?  Via the WaPo:

With no resolution in sight to a partisan stalemate over one of President Bush’s nominees to the Federal Election Commission, campaign finance experts said yesterday that there is a real prospect the commission could start the 2008 election year without enough members to take any official action.

“Right now, what we’re watching is a game of chicken,” said Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman who has been monitoring a simmering Senate battle over Bush nominee Hans A. von Spakovsky. “If nobody blinks before the Senate recess, the commission will be immobilized.”

The standoff over von Spakovsky’s nomination has frozen action on four of Bush’s FEC appointees — two Democrats and two Republicans — to the commission’s six-member board. The votes of four members are needed to take any action. If the Senate does not confirm the nominees before adjourning in December, the FEC will be left with two members….

“This is the first nomination that the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has ever opposed,” said Wade Henderson, the group’s president. He said he thinks that von Spakovsky would “use his role at the FEC to make it more difficult for voters to exercise their franchise.”…

Smith said he thinks advocacy groups that oppose von Spakovsky’s philosophy on campaign finance matters have ginned up the civil rights issues to ignite the passions of senators who might otherwise not object to his appointment. “The result is that an otherwise routine FEC appointment has turned into a civil rights battle,” he said.

What the WaPo fails to note in this piece are two very important connective pieces. First, that Bradley Smith, who now works as a professor at Capital University Law School (the school people go to when they can’t get into Ohio State), is a former FEC Commissioner, self-proclaimed “libertarian,” and frequent speaker on the Federalist Society election fraud circuit…as is von Spakovsky.  The second is that the reporter fails to mention that von Spakovsky worked hand in hand with a McConnell political pal in voter suppression efforts to benefit the GOP after the 2000 election — so those convenient quotes from McConnell’s office poo-poohing von Spakovsky’s involvement in any GOP disenfranchisement schemes are laughable, at best, and hollow…and deserved both a mention and some actual digging. 

Something I like to call “investigative journalism” and “honest reporting of the spin.”  Oh, and never mind that there is ample evidence of wrongdoing by von Spakovsky.  “Ginned up civil rights issue,” my ass.

Try von Spakovsky sockpuppeting an article about voter suppression in violation of DOJ rules while he was still an employee there ostensibly working on civil rights issues.  Or how about participating in an effort to disenfranchise elderly Native American voters in Arizona on a technicality rather than working to find a way to support their right to vote.  Or the entire gaming the system for The Math scheme at the DOJ.  Or that a number of his subordinates at the DOJ wrote in to the Senate to say that von Spakovsky has neither the ethical underpinnings nor the commitment to voting integrity that should not be gamed for political purposes to be anywhere near the FEC.  And there is so much more:  see Digby and Adam at ePluribusMedia, for starters. 

And now to the employee.  The Detroit Free Press reports that John Tanner, current head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, will be testifying before the HJC on Tuesday.  TheMuck has some background on prior Tanner statements that is not to be missed.  And ePluribusMedia reports that Tanner may testify that he, and not former Georgia GOP stalwart von Spakovsky, was responsible for the odious Georgia Voter ID Law — compared by a federal judge to the days of Jim Crow and poll taxes — which the Bush civil rights division tried to replicate nationwide.   More from ElectionLawBlog.

I’d like to be able to report that we know all the facts on the Georgia ID law mess…but currently the internal investigation at the DOJ is still languishing in inactivity.  And thus, the von Spakovsky nomination languishes in the Senate based on a hold from Sens. Obama and Feingold.  Contrary to the assertion from the WaPo that this is a “game of chicken,” it sounds to me exactly like what the Senate is supposed to do:  you cannot give adequate advice and consent if the Bush Administration persistently withholds the truth about the nominees. 

And given the odor of political gaming of voter’s rights that eminates from von Spakovsky’s long record of partisan action, I’d say that some truth is exactly what the public deserves before he gets any vote at all.  It’s called accountability.  And I say that Mr. von Spakovsky deserves a vote of no confidence based on his long history of trying to game The Math.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com