Shapleigh Rips Into GOP Witness
Former Justice Department lawyer participated in Texas re-redistricting
By Lee Nichols,
7:01PM, Tue. Mar. 10, 2009
In the voter ID bill hearing, the conservative Heritage Foundation's Hans Von Spakovsky testified that voter ID requirements are necessary, and backed this up by mentioning reports of illegal aliens registering and voting in Bexar County. But El Paso Sen. Eliot Shapleigh asked him if he knows the end results of these reports, whether they ended in prosecutions or convictions. Von Spakovsky admitted he doesn’t know. (The Brennan Center report mentioned in a previous post noted that allegations of voter fraud make sensational headlines, but usually turn out to be "smoke and no fire.")
Now Shapleigh is ripping into von Spakovsky’s credibility as a witness. He quoted a 2007 letter from von Spakovsky’s former Department of Justice colleagues as they urged the Senate not to appoint him to the Federal Election Commission (he was a George W. Bush recess appointment who eventually withdrew from the confirmation process; he played a role in the infamous 2003 Texas re-redistricting). The letter reads in part:
[H]e was the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights. … Over the past five years, the priorities of the Voting Section have shifted from its historic mission to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws without regard to politics, to pursuing an agenda which placed the highest priority on the partisan political goals of the political appointees who supervised the Section.
“Was that about you?” asked Shapleigh.
“That letter is full of lies,” Spakovsky replied. “I wrote a response pointing out the many inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”
“So it is about you?” Shapleigh pressed on.
“It was written by people now working for very liberal advocacy groups,” Spakovsky said.
Shapleigh repeated the question several more times, and Spakovsky never did precisely say “yes.”
UPDATE: Sen. Rodney Ellis just got in a jab at von Spakovsky that made the media table laugh.
"Is this your first time in Texas?" a friendly Ellis asked to open his questioning. Of course, Ellis well knew the answer, given von Spakovsky's history with Texas' controversial mid-decade redistricting, and von Spakovsky reminded him of that.
"Oh, well welcome back," Ellis said.