That is the question at the center of a new Judicial Watch investigation.
On August 19, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain records related to the agency’s communications with Estelle Rogers, a former ACORN attorney who currently serves as the Director of Advocacy for the ACORN-connected organization Project Vote, President Obama’s former employer.
Judicial Watch is investigating the extent to which the Obama DOJ and Project Vote are partnering in a national campaign to use the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) to register more individuals on public assistance, widely considered a key voting block for the Obama 2012 campaign.
Here’s what we’re after with our FOIA request filed on June 23, 2011: “All records of communications between the Department of Justice and Estelle Rogers, Director of Advocacy for Project Vote. The timeframe for this request is January 2, 2009, to June 23, 2011.”
The DOJ was required by law to respond to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request within 30 working days, or by August 5, 2011. (U.S. Postal Service records indicate the DOJ received Judicial Watch’s request on June 28, 2011.) As of the lawsuit’s filing, the DOJ has neither produced the records requested nor responded with the date when they will be forthcoming. (Nothing new there.)
Now, we already know that Project Vote is corrupt. We also know that the organization is putting a full-court press on key swing states to manipulate voter registration laws in order to “get out the vote” for Obama and the Democrats in 2012. And leading that charge is Estelle Rogers.
Rogers, a former attorney for ACORN, is a primary contact person on policy matters at Project Vote on both state and federal levels and has been actively involved in voter registration issues. By threatening lawsuits under Section 7 of the NVRA, Project Vote has aggressively sought to force election officials in various states to increase the registration of people receiving public assistance. (Under Section 7, states are required to offer voter registration services at all public assistance agencies, including unemployment offices and food stamp offices.)
And this corrupt campaign is working.
Just a few weeks ago, Judicial Watch released documents obtained from the Colorado Department of State showing that ACORN and Project Vote successfully pressured Colorado officials into implementing new policies for increasing the registration of public assistance recipients during the 2008 and 2010 election seasons. Following the policy changes, the percentage of invalid voter registration forms from Colorado public assistance agencies was four times the national average! Project Vote also sought a “legislative fix” to allow people without a driver’s license or state identification to register to vote online.
This is nothing new. Project Vote and ACORN have both been linked to serious incidents of voter registration fraud, including criminal activity. In fact, Project Vote’s “Field Director” Amy Busefink, who handled the online registration campaign for Colorado, entered an Alford plea to two gross misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters in Nevada while working for ACORN. (An Alford plea is a guilty plea where the defendant does not admit the act or assert innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)
In addition to pursuing public agency registration cases in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia and New Mexico, Project Vote also filed a lawsuit on April 19, 2011, in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), against the State of Louisiana alleging violations of the NVRA.
And where does the DOJ fit into all of this? That’s what we’re investigating.
We do know that less than three months after the Project Vote/NAACP Louisiana lawsuit, on July 12, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division/Voting Section sued the state on the same grounds, claiming that “Louisiana officials have not routinely offered voter registration forms, assistance and services to the state’s eligible citizens who apply, recertify or provide a change address for public assistance or disability services.”
The DOJ had previously sued the State of Rhode Island on March 11, 2011, alleging violations of the NVRA. (Project Vote posted a nice little press release on its website promoting the lawsuit.) Ultimately, the DOJ lawsuit led to policy changes intended to increase the number of voter registration applications processed by “public assistance and disability service officers.” These two lawsuits, filed within five months of each other, are the first such lawsuits filed by the DOJ since 2007. So it’s not as if this is a common practice.
In our opinion, there is certainly the appearance that Project Vote and the Obama DOJ are working in tandem in the lead-up to the 2012 elections. After all, this is the same DOJ that partnered with the ACLU to attack Arizona over its get-tough illegal immigration law and with the NAACP on the decision to drop its voter intimidation lawsuit against the Black Panthers. This DOJ, like no other, is owned and operated by radical leftist special interest groups.
And remember, Barack Obama has deep connections to Project Vote. He served as the Illinois Executive Director of Project Vote in 1992. His campaign paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN organization to help “get out the vote” in his successful primary campaign against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Our concern is that Project Vote’s activities remain a threat to the integrity of our elections. The fact that Project Vote is bullying states to attack election security reforms in order to register Obama’s “Food Stamp Army” comes as no surprise. But it appears that the Obama DOJ is using the same playbook as Project Vote – to the detriment of clean elections.
The American people deserve to know if the nation’s highest law enforcement agency has become nothing more than a political tool to help this scandalous ACORN-front group re-elect Barack Obama. And yet again, this DOJ can’t seem to be bothered to comply with basic open records FOIA law. So we are now in court to force them to respond.
Incredibly, the day after we announced our lawsuit, the Obama campaign announced that it would be running its own voter registration drive under the very name of “Project Vote.” If the Obama campaign doesn’t care if it is identified with the same “Project Vote” that did so much to try to corrupt the 2008 presidential elections, then one ought to be concerned about what is in store for the integrity of our elections next year!