Obama Justice Department pushes “motor voter” suit against Louisiana in tandem with left-wing pressure groups

ACORN’s Project Vote affiliate is working in partnership with other left-wing groups to pressure state officials into accepting “consent agreements” that would preclude any serious investigations into voter fraud allegations, according to a former employee who has testified against the organization.

State officials who are on the receiving end of lawsuits based on “motor voter” allegations should resist legal settlements “that will tie their hands” and open  the way to fraudulent voting in next year’s elections, warns Anita MonCrief, who testified against the ACORN network in connection with voter registration allegations from the 2008 presidential campaign.

“The lawsuits are coming out of nowhere in multiple states and they are coming fast,” said MonCrief, who is active with the Tea Party and edits the EmergingCorruption.com blog.

“This is part of a coordinated effort,”she continued. “These groups are very well-funded, and they have lawyers doing pro-bono work. The objective here is to pressure secretaries of state into accepting consent agreements that will weaken election laws.”

The Brennan Center for Justice, based at the New York University for Law, has been instrumental in providing attorneys to file suit based on allegations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which includes the “motor voter” law, she explained.

Louisiana officials who are now the target of voter registration lawsuits should carefully examine the consent agreement New Mexico officials approved earlier this year, MonCrief advises.

Under the settlement, that state’s election officials are effectively constrained from cleaning their voting rolls of any ineligible names until well after the 2012 elections, she said.  Project Vote joined with Demos and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, to bring the suit against New Mexico.

MonCrief began working with Project Vote in October of 2005 where she became familiar with the group’s voter registration efforts and its relationship with ACORN. She testified against ACORN and Project Vote as part of a lawsuit Heather Heidelbaugh, an attorney with the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), filed in Pennsylvania over alleged election law violations.

“Project Vote is a sister organization of ACORN,” MonCrief said in testimony. When I got there, I actually thought I was working for ACORN because that was the only thing I heard about during the interview. But when I got there, I realized that I was working for Project Vote, and they explained to me the difference between the two organizations. But as I was there I learned there wasn’t much of a difference.”

Matthew Vadum, a senior editor at the Capital Research Center (CRC) in Washington D.C., who has extensively researched ACORN and its many affiliate groups, concurs.

“There is no wall of separation between the two,” he said. On registration and mobilization campaigns, ACORN and Project Vote work together to the point where it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference. They share staff, office space and money.”

Vadum is also the author of a new book: “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.”

“Project Vote has long been in the forefront of filing lawsuits aimed at mucking up America’s voter rolls and the group shows no signs of slowing down,” Vadum said. “Frances Fox Piven, the Marxist academic who helped design the motor voter law in an effort to swamp voter rolls with dead people and cartoon characters, is on Project Vote’s board.”

Project Vote and other “left wing groups” are also making a concerted effort to challenge photo identification laws across the country, Vadum noted.

“All Americans have to get ID to drive, collect public benefits, borrow library books, so why should one segment of the population be exempted?” he asks. “The only reason to oppose photo ID requirements for voting is to allow voter fraud to take place.”

Since 2004, Project Vote has received almost $25 million from left-leaning institutions and foundations, according to data compiled by CRC. Some the biggest donors include the Tides Foundation, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, the Irving Harris Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the George Soros-backed Open Society Institute and the Barbara Streisand Foundation.

In January, Project Vote sent a “notice letter” addressed to Secretary of State Tom Schedler claiming that Louisiana was out of compliance with the “motor voter” section of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Ronald L. Wilson, a New Orleans attorney, co-signed the letter, which urged Louisiana officials to take corrective measures in their social services agencies.

Under Section 7 of the NVRA, commonly known as “motor voter,” state health and welfare agencies are required to offer voter registration forms.

“Substantial evidence demonstrates that Louisiana is failing to provide mandatory voter registration services at its public assistance offices as required by the NVRA. For example, the most recent report to the U.S.,” the letter says. “Election Assistance Commission reveals that Louisiana public assistance agencies collected only 8,688 voter registration applications in 2007-2008. This represents an 88% decline since 1995-1996, when Louisiana reported 74,636 registrations from public assistance offices.”

In April, Project Vote and the NAACP filed suit over the alleged NVRA violations naming Schedler, Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the Department of Health Hospitals (DHH) and Ruth Johnson, secretary of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as defendants.  The state officials filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and argued that the NAACP did not have standing to bring suit.

In July, a federal court ruled that the suit could go forward on the basis of a previous case involving ACORN, which is known in full as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Just a few days before the ruling in favor of the NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its own “motor voter” suit against Louisiana state officials. The DOJ suit claims Louisiana failed to “identify and designate” public assistance agencies as places where residents could become registered to vote.

But while the Obama Justice Department is pursuing the “motor voter” allegations, it is ignoring the anti-fraud provisions within the same law, Sen. David Vitter argues in a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder.  “Motor Voter” falls under Section 7 of the NVRA, while the anti-fraud provision is included in Section 8.

“Section 8 requires states to conduct voter roll cleaning to purge ineligible felons and dead voters from corrupting the election process,” Vitter wrote.  “The two provisions act together as counterparts, but it is evident that the Justice Department is not enforcing them equally.”

J. Christian Adams, a former Voting Section attorney with DOJ, said during a November forum at Tulane University Law School, that the Obama Justice Department is “philosophically opposed” to enforcing the law against fraudulent voting. (See related story). Adams also identified five parishes in Louisiana that have more people listed as voters than they have residents who are eligible to vote.

Kevin Mooney is the Capitol Bureau Reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be reached at kmooney@pelicanpolicy.org and followed on Twitter.