Bully Tactics: Rep. Cummings Abusing Power by Intimidating Voter Integrity Group True the Vote

Posted: Oct 18, 2012 4:36 PM

Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings is using intimidation tactics against the voter integrity group True the Vote with AFL-CIO, NAACP and other far left groups following his lead.

On October 4, Cummings sent a letter to True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht on official House Oversight and Government Reform Committee letterhead, demanding she turn over documents and training material used by the group for people planning to volunteer as poll watchers on Election Day. Engelbrecht responded to Cummings' request by offering to meet with him in Washington D.C. to explain the mission of True the Vote and to address his concerns.

"I believe we agree on many common goals, such as the right of every American to have the opportunity to participate in a fair and legal electoral process. It was of great concern to me that you had suddenly requested a considerable amount of documentation on the basis of news reports which offered limited balance and an over-simplification of the facts. I find it regrettable that your office did not reach out to True The Vote directly before launching a personal ad-hoc investigation. Election integrity is a serious concern across the nation – the state of Maryland is no exception. In this year alone, as reported by The Washington Post, a federal congressional candidate seeking to join Maryland’s Congressional Delegation was forced to resign from her race by Democratic Party officials after alleged felony double voting was uncovered in her voting history," Engelbrecht wrote. "It is both obvious and unfortunate that you are not familiar with all of the details of the mission or methods of True the Vote. This letter serves as an effort to coordinate a convenient meeting time in your Washington, D.C. office, during which I can brief you and your staff about our program and help dispel any misconceptions you may have. In the interim, if you anticipate making any future comments about True the Vote, please do not hesitate to contact me directly so that I may provide you with accurate information. As always, you are welcome to join an upcoming training session before Election Day."

Cummings' responded to her offer in an October 18 letter by giving her an ultimatum. He agreed to meet with her only if she turns over his requested documents to "Congress" and once again proceeded to demand even more documents. He did not agree to attend a training session.

"On October 4, 2012, I sent you a letter requesting specific documents about the manner in which True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands o f legitimate voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence. I requested these documents by October 14, 2012. To date, you have not produced a single document. Instead, you responded by claiming that my request was based on "an over-simplification of the facts" and "second-hand knowledge or poor staff-researched understanding of our organization's activities." Rather than providing any documents that would shed light on your organization's activities, you attacked election officials in Ohio and Wisconsin for not doing their jobs. Rather than providing any documents that would bring greater transparency to these efforts—a goal you claim you share—you offered only to meet with me to "dispel any misconceptions." I accept your offer to come to Washington to answer these allegations, but only after you provide the documents I requested," Cummings wrote. "In addition to documents relating to your efforts to challenge legitimate voter registrations, today I am also requesting documents relating to your plan to deploy hundreds of thousands of personnel across the country on Election Day to challenge access to the polls for people you believe should not be allowed to vote." 

Despite what Cummings implied in his letter, True the Vote doesn't have an obligation to "produce a single document." Cummings is in the minority, lacks subpoena power and has no authority to force True the Vote to hand over anything and therefore, he is resorting to intimidation tactics against True the Vote, it's leadership and it's members as a result. He is abusing his power on the Oversight Committee by using these tactics, implying he has more power on the Committee than he actually does and is misrepresenting the committee headed not by him, but Chairman Darrell Issa.

"There have been reports from multiple states during the past two years that your organization is targeting predominantly minority communities and coordinating with the Republican Party in an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters," Cummings wrote. "If you are truly committed to transparency in our nation's voting process—and if you continue to deny that your organization is challenging thousands of legitimate voters across the country for partisan political purposes—then you should have no reason to withhold documents from Congress about your activities."

Just for reference, Cummings is the same guy who has been defending the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder for 18 months in their "cooperation" of turning over 7,000 of 80,000 subpoenaed documents to the Committee about Operation Fast and Furious.

Cummings accuses True the Vote multiple times of "blocking access" to voting. True the Vote isn't blocking access to voting for anyone but instead is working to protect the votes of legitimate voters. The group simply refers possible instances of voter registration fraud to government officials and recommends actions like taking dead, illegal and non-existent voters off of voting rolls.

"You are most certainly aware that Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act gives a private right of action for citizens to bring lawsuits in the event election registrars are failing to maintain the voter rolls properly. Ohio law, in fact, expressly provides for citizen challenges to registration records which appear to be in violation of Section 8. Responsible citizens exercising powers under Section 8 have every right, and we would argue, a civil obligation, to assist the electoral process by bringing this information to the attention of election officials," Engelbrecht wrote.

True the Vote also promotes Voter I.D., something 71 percent of the country supports and trains poll watchers to ensure the integrity of elections is kept in place on Election Day.