Did Eric Holder Mislead the Public to Justify DOJ's Assault on Voter ID Laws?
by Judy Kent
Washington, DC - Days after President Obama's re-election and nearly six months past its statutory due date, a National Center for Public Policy Research Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Justice has finally received a response.
On April 13, the National Center sent a FOIA request to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning a December 13, 2011 speech by Attorney General Eric Holder in which Holder claimed he was hearing "a consistent drumbeat of concern from many Americans, who - often for the first time in their lives - now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation's most noble, and essential, ideals [protecting voting rights]."
This communication with Americans, Holder said, helped lead him to challenge state voter protection measures, such as the Texas and South Carolina voter ID laws, in federal court.
The National Center requested copies of those communications. The law specifies that DOJ was to comply by May 11.
The DOJ emailed its response on November 9. The DOJ said, "no records responsive to your request were located."
So, while General Holder, in the words of the FOIA request, claimed his department's "policy shift to vigorously challenge voter identification laws" was spurred by his communications with Americans concerned about voting rights, the DOJ has no record of any such communications.
"In 2008, the Supreme Court definitively ruled that state-level voter ID laws are a constitutional way for states to help protect their citizens from voter fraud. That is the law of the land. Attorney General Holder ignored the Court, setting the Justice Department on a course to stomp out popular and bipartisan voter ID measures at every turn," said National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof, Esq. "Thanks to our FOIA request, it now appears Holder's public justifications for his crusade were premised on a lie. So what was the real reason the DOJ has made challenging Voter ID such a priority?"
"According to the Justice Department's response, Attorney General Holder did not have a single documented communication with any American claiming to fear for the safety of their voting rights," said Danhof. "Holder apparently misled the public in order to give a credible rationale for his inane attack on commonsense voter protection measures. There has been speculation that Holder may step down in January. If he cannot be accountable for his actions, especially in defiance of Supreme Court precedence on the issue, he should simply resign now."
Under federal law, the Justice Department was supposed to respond within 20 working days. Instead, the reply came nearly seven months after it was submitted - and approximately six months late.
"The timing of DOJ's response is suspicious. DOJ officials sat on this very simple response to a very simple FOIA request for nearly six months. Then they released it right after the presidential election," added Danhof. "Politics was clearly the driving factor in this delay. It is shameful that the current Administration chose partisan politics over honesty and federal law."
Danhof further noted: "Voter fraud is very real, and its impact on local and national elections cannot be overstated. Holder and his cronies have been assaulting voter ID laws under a false premise. It is time that his campaign against common sense and the Constitution come to an end."
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters. In 2011, it received about two percent of its revenue from corporate sources and the vast majority of its revenue from over 350,000 individual gifts.