Written by Tom Fitton
A Win and a Loss for Election Integrity
Liberals have been aggressively pushing the false narrative that voter fraud is something conservatives invented out of thin air – a phantom problem, they say, intended to “suppress” votes. But nothing could be further from the truth. Voter fraud is real. It is a proven threat to the integrity of our elections this year and beyond.
As noted recently in an editorial by Glenn Harlan Reynolds in the New York Post: “Current voter-registration systems are flawed, with huge numbers of dead or disqualified voters still on the rolls. And, since voter-ID enforcement is poor, in many places a person can simply claim to be one of those people and vote in their name with no one the wiser.”
Reynolds’ column centers on an excellent book, Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk, by journalist John Fund and former Justice Department attorney Hans von Spakovsky.
But don’t take their word for it. Or mine. Just review this list of real-world incidents of election fraud as compiled by ElectionIntegrityWatch.com, the most recent criminal voter fraud taking place just a few days ago on a college campus in Fargo, North Dakota.
In the context of the very real concerns about voter fraud, this week a Pennsylvania Court issued its ruling on the state’s new voter ID law. It was a loss, but at the same time, something of a win, for election integrity. Per CBS News in Philadelphia:
A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge has ruled that the state’s controversial new voter ID law will stand, but voters without a valid picture ID card will still be able to cast their vote and have it counted. Judge Robert Simpson has effectively decided to block part of the law. Following his ruling, voters will still be asked for a valid voter ID at the poll. But if they don’t have it, they will still be able to cast their vote in the usual manner. The judge suspended the portion of the law that would have required voters without valid ID to cast what is called a “provisional” ballot, which would not be counted unless the voter could produce a valid photo ID within six days after the election. Judge Simpson says he viewed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent directive as ordering that he sever the illegal portion of the law concerning the provisional ballots.
So on Election Day, Pennsylvania will feature a “soft rollout” of the new law, CBS noted, with later implementation of the stricter measures possible in the future. But this comes as no solace to those of us who are very concerned about the integrity of the elections this year. Though we are happy that voters will be at least asked for voter ID and that the law is set to be fully implemented, over the objections of the Left, in future elections.
As I’ve said many times over the last six months, the Obama gang – which includes the Obama campaign, the Obama Justice Department, the Obama White House and liberal special interest groups – has launched an all-out attack on the integrity of our elections.
This campaign includes abusing federal election laws to try to register a “Food Stamp Army” to help gather more votes for the president. It includes attacking states that try to impose election integrity measures, such as voter ID laws. It includes partnering with scandal-ridden organizations such as ACORN and Project Vote. It includes “legalizing” illegal aliens. And it includes engaging legions of lawyers to oppose the election results if they are not favorable to Barack Obama.
This machine had a trial run in 2008 with massive voter registration fraud and with voter fraud, in some cases tipping the balance in favor of leftist candidates (See Al Franken). Judicial Watch, in partnership with its allies, True the Vote and the Election Law Center, is uniquely positioned to help protect the integrity of our election systems.
Judicial Watch launched its 2012 Election Integrity Project to counter the Obama gang’s attempts to “fix” the elections. And it has already paid dividends, earning key victories in Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, and elsewhere. JW has also exposed the corrupt connections between the Obama administration and radical leftist organizations, prompting a barrage of press stories that has educated many Americans about the threat to free and fair elections.
And when there are setbacks, we don’t give up. And that includes Pennsylvania. We have been actively engaged in support of the state’s voter ID law from the beginning. We’ve testified before the state legislature and filed briefs with the courts to articulate our view that voter ID laws are not only lawful, but necessary. And that battle will continue.
I just flew back last night from Denver, where I moderated a panel at CPAC Colorado on election integrity. I can tell that the activists there are motivated and educated about this issue. We will have our own “2012 Election Integrity Update” event next week (October 11, 2012). You can attend in person or via the Internet. Click here for more for more information.
Because if there’s one thing we know regarding election fraud, it is this: The enemies of free and fair elections, no matter which party or candidate they support, will remain active long after all of the votes (legal or otherwise) are counted this year. This is a long ballgame. And Judicial Watch is in it to win it for election integrity. If you want to join us in this effort, please visit www.judicialwatch.org today and consider making a secure online contribution.
A few months ago, I told you about a new Judicial Watch investigation looking into a February 2012 meeting between FBI Director Robert Mueller and Muslim organizations. That meeting took place just prior to the FBI’s controversial decision to purge the agency’s training curricula of material deemed “offensive” to Muslims. Some of the groups involved in this meeting have ties to Islamic terrorists who want to do us harm. The decision by the FBI to bow to their whims is irresponsible at best and flagrantly dangerous at worst.
Well now I want to tell you about another shocking example of political correctness run amok inside the Obama administration. Our investigators recently obtained records from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) about a cultural sensitivity program held for the agency by Souder, Betances & Associates, a Chicago-based company that focuses on “diversity training.”
The USDA training program, which took place following the knee-jerk firing of former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, is part of a large-scale effort by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to “culturally transform” the agency.
Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request on May 18, 2012 after being notified by a USDA whistleblower about a compulsory national USDA training program that allegedly – get this – requires staffers to bang on tables while chanting in unison that America’s founding fathers were illegal immigrants!
(Can someone please explain to me how such an exercise helps the bureaucrats at the USDA do their jobs effectively?)
Our FOIA request sought access to all records since January 2010 of USDA’s dealings with Souder, Betances & Associates. And in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and a subsequent administrative appeal, we received 46 pages of documents from one division of USDA called the Food & Nutrition Service (FNS).
The records show that FNS spent $2,350.97 to send Vincent Loran, the division’s Training Administrator, to Skokie, Ill., for Betances’ three-day diversity training course May 29-31, 2012. The records also include email correspondence between Loran and the firm’s principal owner, Samuel Betances, prior to Mr. Loran’s attendance at the training course.
Here are just two highlights from the records (which you can read in full here).
In an October 10, 2011 email, USDA Training Administrator, Vincent Loran, issues a request to the firm’s principal owner Samuel Betances for a copy of a video documenting a training session on USDA premises. Loran promises to keep the video secret: “It will not be used for or show (sic) in any way shape or form,” Loran wrote. (That video remains a secret today.)
In a January 17, 2012 email USDA Training Administrator Vincent Loran begins his message, “Bendición Papa” (“Blessings Father”) and closes the letter, “Se te quiere mucho” (“I love you”). Hardly the type of professional message one might expect between a government employee and a hired consultant.
Now, according to usaspending.gov, as part of this initiative, the USDA has paid Mr. Samuel Betances and his firm nearly $200,000 in 2011 and 2012 for consulting and training programs. Among the company’s self-described areas of expertise: Diversity Awareness, Race and Gender, and Hispanics at Work.
(Betances, is a Harvard grad who describes himself as a “biracial, bicultural and bilingual citizen of the world.” Betances’ biography states that he is a “great motivator who rose out of the bowels of inner city poverty, stigma of minority group status, violence, welfare and illiteracy in two languages.”)
And, as far as the USDA’s wasteful and irresponsible government initiatives are concerned, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In April, 2009, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a memo to all agency employees announcing a “new era of Civil Rights” at the USDA. As described by the USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights website: “Our efforts to tackle our history of civil rights are part of a broader effort towards cultural transformation at USDA.”
In addition to diversity training, this major USDA diversity initiative includes public education campaigns, the settlement of class action lawsuits for minority populations, such as Native American and Hispanic farmers, gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual diversity programs, streamlined systems for the processing of civil rights complaints and “special events.”
For example, check out this April 2011 issue of the USDA’s Cultural Transformation Newsletter. It describes an FNS event called a “Taste of Culture” where 300 USDA employees were treated to a “tasty celebration” of dishes from around the world, salsa dancing lessons from training administrator Vincent Loran, and a rap music performance by another USDA employee about his feelings on human differences.
Again, I ask, how is a culinary festival, salsa dancing and rap music related in any way to the proper functioning of this federal agency?
I suspect the Obama USDA does not have an answer. Fox News covered this new Judicial Watch disclosure over on its site. Interestingly, the Obama administration refused to confirm or deny the whistleblower’s description of the event. What an embarrassment for the Obama administration to waste precious taxpayer dollars on such ridiculous programs. The USDA should release all records pertaining to this diversity initiative, including the secret video referenced in these records, immediately.
As I say, the Betances’ diversity training program took place following the USDA’s controversial July 2010 firing of employee Shirley Sherrod in a reaction to certain racial comments by Ms. Sherrod at a meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on March 27, 2010.
And now American citizens are paying for the USDA’s scandalous firing of Ms. Sherrod in the form of taxpayer-funded exercises that are offensive, wasteful and unnecessary.
Judicial Watch has always taken very seriously its responsibility to not only fight government corruption in every corner of our country, but to also educate the public about government scandals and abuses of power. Through our monthly newsletter, The Verdict, this weekly email update, special reports, press releases, media appearances, educational panels and press conferences, we make certain we spread the word far and wide about our important work.
But in 2012, Judicial Watch’s public education campaign soared to a completely new level, reaching millions of Americans in exciting new ways.
Here’s one example.
This week a landmark event in the history of Judicial Watch will take place when the Fox News Channel’s Hannity program taped a one-hour special dedicated to the work of Judicial Watch. This special focuses specifically on an exciting new feature length documentary film produced by Judicial Watch focusing on corruption in the White House, including the corrupt wheeling and dealing of the current administration.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, The District of Corruption is a fast-paced, comprehensive examination of White House corruption through the last three presidential administrations (Clinton, Bush, and Obama). Steve and I joined Sean Hannity to tape the program earlier this week. No air-date has been set, but I will email, as soon as it is scheduled.
The name Steve Bannon may be familiar to you. He has quickly become the conservative movement’s most respected and prolific filmmaker. Steve directed the hit documentary film, The Undefeated, about former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, among a number of other important works, including the new hit movie, Occupy Unmasked.
I may be biased, but I believe The District of Corruption, which was produced in association with Victory Film Group and Constant Motion Entertainment, is Steve’s best film yet. It is exceptionally well-crafted, featuring interviews with yours truly and my colleagues Chris Farrell and Paul Orfanedes, as well as the conservative movement’s most influential journalists, including best-selling author Peter Schweizer, Matthew Boyle (The Daily Caller), Mark Tapscott (The Washington Examiner), Kerry Picket (The Washington Times) and Mike Flynn (Breitbart.com).
Following on the heels of taping the Hannity program’s one-hour special, we are now putting in motion our distribution plan which should see the film released to the public in the coming weeks. (If you would like to assist us in helping the film reach the widest audience possible, please consider making a secure on-line contribution to JW.)
The official public release of The District of Corruption makes an historic new expansion of Judicial Watch’s efforts to educate the American people about the threat posed to our nation by public corruption and invasive big government.
And, as you know if you’ve been reading this space, this is the second major public education initiative launched by JW in 2012.
In July we released our new book, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption and Big Government. The book, published by heavyweight Simon and Schuster’s Threshold Editions, quickly became a New York Times bestseller, which is no easy feat. (My sincere thanks to all of the Judicial Watch members who helped make this happen.)
If you haven’t yet picked up your copy, please consider doing so today. (You can find the book here, and in book stores and other popular online stores such as Amazon.com.) To whet your appetite, here is a quote from the publisher’s “write-up” promoting The Corruption Chronicles:
In 2008, Barack Obama made a promise to have the “most transparent administration” of any U.S. president; it was the very cornerstone of his campaign. No secrets. No masks. No smoke and mirrors. No excuses. But over the next four years, President Obama’s administration would prove to be one of the most guarded and duplicitous of our time. Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, America’s largest nonpartisan government watchdog (challenging George W. Bush as well as Bill Clinton), has been investigating Obama ever since he splashed onto the national scene in 2006. Now Fitton exposes devastating secrets the Obama administration has desperately fought-even in court-to keep from the American public. For a while, the Obama stonewall seemed to be holding. Until now. And the revelations are astonishing.
If you want to know the full truth about Obama corruption, this book is the place to start. It is a “greatest hits” presentation of all of the scandals that have plagued Barack Obama from his days in Chicago right through his first four years as President of the United States. As a regular reader of my weekly update some of these scandals will be familiar to you. But to read this book in its entirety with Obama scandals (and scandals of our prior two presidents) laid bare in one tome is a different experience – it will become a reference guide you will use again and again.
It is certainly no small task to release a national best-selling book and a feature film in one year. But we are now in a very critical moment in our nation’s history. With the unprecedented expansion of government that has taken place over the last four years, there has come a massive increase in government corruption and abuse of power. And the American people need to be better informed about what is taking place behind closed doors in Washington.
Please visit www.judicialwatch.org to stay up to date on the progress of these two new exciting projects, made possible, as always, by the generosity of our donors and supporters.
Until next week…