You are browsing the archive for ALEC.

MN GOP’s Voter ID Plan Would Cost Two Rural Counties Nearly $1 Million

9:22 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Minnesota State Fair Seed Art 2012 (photo: Mpls55408 / flickr)

Not only is Minnesota’s Kiffmeyered amendment version of ALEC’s voter restriction (aka “Photo ID”) model bill useless at stopping the sort of voter fraud it’s touted as stopping, it would also be ruinously expensive for state and local governments to enact.

The steep expense of the Photo ID amendment if it passes was first noticed in the case of Rice County, which would be out around $120,000 — a big financial blow for a largely-rural county of less than 65,000 souls. As bad as that is, it’s much worse for Minnesota’s Kittson County, which is even more rural than Rice: The 4,552 residents of Kittson County would, if this Photo ID amendment passes, get socked with a $730,000 bill.

That’s right, folks: The good folk of Kittson County are being asked by the Minnesota Republican Party to shell out $160 for every man, woman and child in the county, and to pay for something that won’t fight fraud but will make it harder for legal voters like shut-ins, veterans, and college kids to vote.

Worst of all: Rice and Kittson are only two of Minnesota’s eighty-seven counties, and not very big in terms of population. Imagine what the other eighty-five counties (and their taxpayers) will be paying.

All so the Republicans can try to screw a few tens of thousands of Minnesotans out of their right to vote.

(Crossposted to Mercury Rising.)

Prominent Florida Republicans: Yes, GOP Trying to Suppress Black Vote

1:07 pm in Elections, Politics, Republican Party by Phoenix Woman

Mugshot of former Chair of the Republican Party of Florida Jim Greer

Most Republicans will deny fiercely that their ALEC-fueled efforts to ram through voter ID and other voter-suppression laws aren’t about suppressing the votes of black Americans. But recently (h/t Meteor Blades), two prominent Florida Republicans have come forward to state, on the record, that this is exactly what the GOP is trying to do.

First off, here’s former Florida Republican Party chair Jim Greer:

In a 630-page deposition recorded over two days in late May, Greer, who is on trial for corruption charges, unloaded a litany of charges against the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.

In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party,” according to the AP.

Greer’s charges are being pooh-poohed by Republicans quick to point out that he is in deep legal trouble, as if that by itself somehow totally disproved what he said. But they can’t use that gambit against former Florida governor Charlie Crist who went on MSNBC recently and blasted Rick Scott, his fellow Florida Republican and his successor as Florida governor, for pushing “shameless” voter-suppression tactics such as photo ID laws, preventing former felons from voting, and heavy-handed purging of voter rolls — and agrees with US Attorney General Eric Holder that the intent of these tactics is to suppress the black vote, Jim-Crow-fashion:

Mitchell noted that Attorney General Eric Holder had recently compared voter photo ID requirements to Jim Crow laws, telling the NAACP that they were the equivalent of “poll taxes.”

“He’s on the right track,” the former governor agreed. “Anytime that you put more impediments into a citizen’s right — a legal citizen’s right to vote and make that more difficult, you impede the natural right of democracy and a citizen’s right to have their voice heard in important elections.”

By the way: Aren’t you wondering why, instead of seeing this news in your local paper or on your evening broadcast TV news, or hearing about it on drive-time radio news programs, you’re probably hearing it first from me? Yeah, me too.

Bad News and Good News on the Buying of US Democracy

9:07 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The bad news: There are at least 25 million-dollar-plus conservative sugar-daddy donors who all by themselves are shoveling tens of millions of dollars (that we know of) into the 2012 election.

The good news: While rich old white men aren’t shy about coughing up dough for Republicans, corporations aren’t rushing to make donations to conservative causes and candidates at quite the rate that had been feared would obtain in the wake of Citizens United:

…When the Supreme Court handed down its five-to-four Citizens United decision in 2010, pre-vetting Mitt Romney’s credo that “corporations are people,” apocalyptic Democrats, including Obama, predicted that the election would become a wholly owned subsidiary of the likes of Chevron and General Electric. But publicly traded, risk-averse corporations still care more about profits than partisanship. They tend to cover their bets by giving to both parties. And they are fearful of alienating customers and investors. Witness, most recently, the advertisers who fled Rush Limbaugh, or the far bigger brands (­McDonald’s and Wendy’s, Coke and Pepsi) that severed ties with the conservative lobbying mill responsible for pushing state “stand your ground” laws like the one used to justify the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida. While corporations and unions remain serious players in the campaign of 2012, their dollars don’t match those of the sugar daddies, who can and do give as much as they want to the newfangled super-PACs.

Why do we have this silver lining? It’s because of the work of folks like Spocko, Color of Change, and other people and groups that punch well above their weight. Take a bow, folks.

ALEC’s Minions Call for the Waaambulance

5:13 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The ALEC Empire is striking back. Check out this:

A PhRMA vice president, Matthew Bennett, rejected the criticism of his organization. “Our work with ALEC, as with all organizations that we work with, is confined to the health and health-industry issues that are of concern to our companies,” he said. In terms of PhRMA’s ongoing support of ALEC, Bennett said that “we regularly and constantly evaluate our relationships with all the organizations we support to be sure they continue to align with our mission.”

The protests against companies, with the accompanying threat of boycott, are exactly why corporate donations should remain anonymous, said Bradley Smith, a Republican who formerly chaired the Federal Election Commission and founded the Center for Competitive Politics. He said that the protests launched against ALEC donors may be an act of free speech but that they chill debate.

“This is aimed at cutting off support for ideas rather than combating the ideas themselves,” Smith said.

That argument was echoed in a statement from the Chamber of Commerce, saying activists’ pressure to disclose was a thinly veiled effort to “harass and intimidate the business community. That’s exactly what’s going on in the ALEC protests.”

And this:

RICHMOND — Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) on Thursday strongly defended a national conservative organization he used to lead, arguing that it has become a victim of intimidation and extortion.

Howell said the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that has lost some of its corporate members in the past week, has been subjected to a six-month attack by liberal groups, including the Occupy movement, and billionaire George Soros.

Awwww. Did you call for a waaambulance, Thurston?

They really don’t like having a million-watt klieg light shone on their activities, do they? Because really, that’s all that Color of Change and its fellow ALEC exposers have been doing. The thing is that ALEC’s goals are so unsavory, and so anti-people, that very few people or businesses want to be publicly linked to ALEC now.

Keep it up, everyone. Keep it up. The more mainstream businesses that leave ALEC, the higher the concentration of those businesses known to be run by right-wing activists, such as Koch Industries, and the harder it is for ALEC to pretend that they aren’t a right-wing outfit.

(NOT) Breaking News: James O’Keefe May Have Violated Parole (Again)

11:48 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Our favorite conservative clown with hidden money propping him up has struck again:

In a new video, a member of James O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas” manages to enter a D.C. polling station and receive a ballot for none other than Attorney General Eric Holder, simply by providing Holder’s address.

Oh noez! This means there’s an epidemic of this sort of thing going on! Or so O’Keefe and his sugar daddies would have us believe. What they don’t tell you is that the penalties for doing this sort of voter fraud are so severe that no sane human, much less a group of sane humans, is going to attempt it very often. As the Brennan Center for Justice explains:

Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.

That’s right, folks: Even with all the silly stunts financed by right-wing fellow travelers of the ALEC geniuses who gave us the “Voter ID” model bills in the first place, your chances of seeing voter fraud are right down there with your chances of being struck by lightning. There’s a far greater chance in my opinion that these stunts are being done in violation of O’Keefe’s parole, but since DoJ is unwilling to risk making him a pseudomartyr, he gets to skate. For now.

That Fine Republican Work Ethic: Minnesota Edition

7:10 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Oh, the poor babies!

Minnesota legislators are edging toward a historically early end to the legislative session, potentially ditching dozens of prized initiatives in their determination to head home and hit the campaign trail.

The race toward early adjournment is revealing a fresh divide among Republicans who control the Legislature: some who want to end this week and others who want to soldier on well into April to complete a more ambitious agenda — maybe even a new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Legislators have much at stake in the session’s outcome, particularly as they face re-election in districts with newly redrawn political boundaries. If they get bogged down in controversial proposals, they risk alienating or angering voters. That has many arguing for a stripped-down agenda and a quick exit.

“As far as I am concerned, if we can block a whole bunch of spending in a bonding bill and get the photo ID bill done, that’s enough,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, who faces his first re-election.

In other words, Dapper Dave’s priorities are screwing over his constituents by denying them the needed infrastructure improvements a bonding bill would provide, and using the Kiffmeyer-ALEC Voter ID ballot initiative to make sure large numbers of his constituents won’t be able to vote after the upcoming November election. Nothing else matters, besides his getting re-elected.

Interestingly, Thompson was recently involved in what looked like a wee bit of legislative kabuki concerning an effort by Democratic lawmakers to amend a bill with the “ALEC ID” amendment, which would have forced influential groups like ALEC to be more forthcoming with how and who they influence. Check out this description of his behavior — it looks very much like he was waiting for amendment foe (and ALEC member) Kvetchin’ Gretchen Hoffman to let him know that there were enough “no” votes on the GOP side to kill the thing before he cast what would now be his second-to-last (and meaningless) “yes” vote.

But Dapper Dave Thompson’s not the only RPM legislator — or even the only RPM senator — with strange work habits. Check out this documentation of the work ethic, such as it is, of fellow Senator Mike Parry, who is vying with Theocon and Bachmann ally Allen Quist for the right to lose big to Tim Walz in MN-01 this November. (One of the videos at that link graces this post.)

You know, if working is just too darned hard for them, that could be fixed this November.

ALEC Ally “Minnesota Majority” Uses Racist Imagery to Sell Voter ID

8:42 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Earlier this month, I noted that CPAC, the premier political event for America’s conservatives, had not one but two white-supremacist dipwads as honored guests and speakers. Today, I’m continuing a Minnesota-focused discussion of political bigotry in action, as practiced by ALEC’s Mary Kiffmeyer, her fellow Republicans and her conservative allies at Minnesota Majority.

Yup, it’s another Minnesota item for the ever-growing “They Say They’re Not Bigots, But” file I keep for Republicans and their conservative allies, and it goes like this:

On Monday morning, TakeAction Minnesota, along with State Representative Rena Moran (65A) held a press conference condemning racially-derogatory imagery being promoted on a pro-photo ID website run by Minnesota Majority. Organizers of the press conference say the online images on imply that African-Americans and Latinos are looking to cheat Minnesota’s elections system.

Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota, one of the organizations leading the campaign against a photo ID amendment, took aim at the online message. “These images are racial-profiling of voters at its ugliest, designed to drive fear and racial division throughout Minnesota in order to help pass a photo ID amendment at the legislature and on the fall ballot. They’re wrong and they should be removed from public view immediately.”

The online banner depicts images of an African-American male dressed in a black-and-white-striped prison suit, and a person dressed in a blue mariachi costume, alongside other outlandish Halloween characters including a white-sheeted ghost, a ghoulish skeleton and a cartoon superhero. The online banner’s message reads “Voter Fraud: Watch How Easy It Is To Cheat In Minnesota’s Elections.”

State Representative Rena Moran, whose represents a racially-diverse district in St. Paul’s Frogtown, Near North End neighborhoods said she was “sickened” at the images and called the photo ID amendment they are attached to nothing less than a “21st century Jim Crow law.” Moran said she believes “those that seek to fan the flames of racial division and fear hurt Minnesotans who are already hurting too much. These images are nothing more than scare tactics used to make sure people of color are further marginalized from public life.”

A portion of the banner graphic appears at the top of this post. The person wearing the ghostly bedsheet is of course Minnesota Majority visual code for “spook”, meaning “Negro”. Taken with the black dude in prison stripes and the mariachi guy, that makes three racist references of varying subtlety. One could be written off as chance, two could be coincidence, but three? Three?! Hell, ESPN just fired a fellow for making one racist reference — and here we’ve got three crammed into one ad by a group that keeps insisting their motivations aren’t racist.

Somehow, I don’t think a professional ad or website design agency is responsible for this thing. A professional ad agency would have, unless ordered otherwise by their client, made sure to avoid any type of ethnic/racial references — instead of a white-sheeted “spook”, a mariachi guy, and a black guy in prison costume (and the wildcard zombie and the superhero-costumed entity thrown in for giggles), they’d all be trenchcoat-wearing spies along the lines of Mad magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” cartoons.

But no. This is what MM wanted, this is what they got, and it’s racist dogwhistling to their base.

UPDATE: Bear in mind that the Voter ID proponents have a long history of bigotry and racism. Mary Kiffmeyer, ALEC’s point woman in Minnesota and who is in tight with her political allies at Minnesota Majority, once defended Minnesota Majority’s writings on “racial purity” thus: Read the rest of this entry →

GOP’s War on Voting, Minnesota Edition: The Twelve Ways of ALEC’s Kiffmeyer to Disenfranchise Us

4:48 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

As Minnesota holds its 2012 election caucuses tonight, I thought this might be apposite.

I was planning to wait until this weekend to discuss the State Rep from ALEC’s Mary Kiffmeyer and her strange war on Native Americans and their defenders, but I decided to take advantage of what Jon Walker had to say about the Virginia front in the GOP’s War on Voting, and of a document that’s circulating through the local online media, and which I received through the e-mail transom.

This document summarizes twelve specific actions taken by Mary Kiffmeyer during her time as Minnesota’s Secretary of State (1998 to 2006) that put the integrity of voting in Minnesota at risk during that time. Here they are, in order:

#1 was her rushed and slapdash adoption of the Help America Vote Act — 41 other secretaries of state asked for and got delays on implementing HAVA until after 2004, but Kiffmeyer, over strong and sustained protests, went ahead with the implementation, generating criticism from Minnesota Republicans as well as Democrats that she was deliberately botching the implementation in such a way as to make it harder for persons to vote.

#2 concerned the confusing forms Kiffmeyer had designed, purportedly to comply with HAVA; Minnesota’s two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, rejected them in favor of existing federal forms when it was time to gear up for the 2004 elections. Kiffmeyer asked the Department of Justice to investigate, falsely claiming the forms were illegal, and even the Bush DoJ was compelled to rule against her.

#3 was Kiffmeyer’s decision to remove Independence Party candidates from the 2004 general election ballot because their candidates hadn’t received 10% of the votes in the primary election. She based this decision on a rarely-used law from the 1930s disqualifying parties not getting 10% of their votes received in the “last election,” a rule she hadn’t enforced up to that point.

#4 is especially sleazy: She actually tried to keep Hennepin County’s absentee voters who had voted for Paul Wellstone before his tragic death in October of 2002 from being able to re-cast their ballots for a living candidate. Kiffy decreed those absentee-ballot-voter re-votes to be invalid, but the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against Kiffmeyer, allowing absentee voters to revote.
Read the rest of this entry →