Text of Elijah Cummings Letter to Catherine Engelbrecht: Good Grief! Intimidation? Absolutely!

Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote testified before Congress yesterday and then filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

Engelbrecht filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, alleging that Cummings “misrepresented his authority as a Member of Congress to intimidate me and others associated with me, and which may be responsible for a series of incursions into my personal, organizational and business affairs by various federal agencies, agents and bureaucracies over the past four years,” …

“We believe that Rep Cummings’ actions have violated the House rules, represent an abuse of power on his part and are unethical and arrogant,” the complaint said.

Cleta Mitchell, an attorney representing Engelbrecht at the hearing, said the congressman may have encouraged federal agencies to zero in on her. Source: BizPacReview

Catherine Engelbrecht

Catherine Engelbrecht

Get a load of just one of the three letters she received, shown below. Note that text in green is mine with information on a particular state Cummings has complained about. Cummings accused Engelbrecht of misdeeds in Ohio. I have added information about how True the Vote’s work in Ohio turned out. After the green text, I pick back up with Cummings’ letter. I believe I could have added “green text” info on every state he mentions, but you would be bored, and I think I’ve made the point. Identifying multiple registrations that are specifically voting more than once and cleaning-up voter rolls by removing names of all dead registrants, is not good thing, in Cummings opinion.

At another House hearing in January 2014 on IRS Targeting, long after at least one of Cummings’ letters winged it’s way to Engelbrecht, in a discussion about Barbara Bosserman, a maxed-out donor to Obama leading the IRS investigation, Cummings states that he does not want her party affiliation considered because she is an” honorable person,” but apparently, in his opinion, Catherine Engelbrecht is not so honorable, as he specifically mentions that her efforts may be “politically-motivated.”

It’s my understanding that there is law which basically says that party affiliation of these attorneys — there’s certain things that cannot be done — are you familiar with that? I just want to make sure when it comes to Party affiliation, that we are careful that we are not stepping on the toes of people, who are honorable people, but then their reputation is damaged because, they may have made a contribution here or there….

The way Cummings writes to Englebrecht is shocking. I don’t remember a peep out of him when the New Black Panthers stood outside a Philadelphia polling place in the 2008 Presidential election, one with a night stick, intimidating blacks and whites alike, being of concern to Cummings. At least I can find nothing from him, calling on the DOJ to uphold the default judgement against the NBPP, which Eric Holder refused to do.

Begin Cummings letter (and note that he gives her ten days to meet his demands):

October 4, 2012

Ms. Catherine Engelbrecht
Founder and President
True the Vote
P.O. Box 27378
Houston, TX 77227

Dear Ms. Engelbrecht:

I am writing to request information about the manner in which True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence.

According to your website, the mission of True the Vote is “to restore integrity to the American system of electing its leaders.”[1] One of your key initiatives is to train volunteers to challenge the registration of voters before elections, and to provide them with information and data about voters you want to purge from the rolls.

Unfortunately, True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliated groups have a

Elijah cummings

Elijah cummings

horrendous record of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges, causing legitimate voters–through no fault of their own–to receive letters from local election officials notifying them that their registrations have been challenged and requiring them to take steps to remedy false accusations against them.

Multiple reviews by state and local government officials have documented voter registration challenges submitted by your volunteers based on insufficient evidence, outdated or inaccurate data, and faulty software and database capabilities. Across multiple states, government officials of both political parties have criticized your methods and work product for their lack of accuracy and reliability.

Your tactics have been so problematic that even Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has condemned them as potentially illegal, stating:

When you cry wolf, and there’s no wolf, you undermine your credibility, and you have unjustly inconvenienced a legally registered voter, and that can border on voter intimidation.[2]

Some have suggested that your true goal is not voter integrity, but voter suppression against thousands of legitimate voters who traditionally vote for Democratic candidates. In June, for example, you appeared at a Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago that was organized to take “the fight for the future of America directly to President Obama’s backyard” and “energize and mobilize Midwestern conservatives, giving activists the tools needed to defeat the liberal agenda in 2012.”[3] During your appearance at this conference, you claimed that the Obama Administration is “determined to force a radical agenda on us”; you accused the Administration of a stunning “assault on our elections”; and when asked if you are working to get a new “administration in there,” you responded “Absolutely.”[4]

At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression. If these efforts are intentional, politically-motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.

In order to investigate these serious allegations, I request that you provide information about the data you have been using to challenge voter registrations, the training you have been providing volunteers to conduct these activities, and the manner in which you have been determining where to deploy your resources in select jurisdictions. Given your multiple statements lauding transparency in our nation’s voting process, I trust you will provide the requested information as soon as possible.

Inaccurate Voter Challenges in Ohio

There have been numerous reports of inaccurate voter registration challenges by volunteers at the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, a project “empowered” by True the Vote. For example, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

In Ohio, election records show, one of the project’s top priorities has been to remove college students from the voter rolls for failure to specify dorm room numbers. (As a group, college students are strongly in Obama’s camp.)

Voters challenged include 284 students at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, 110 at Oberlin College, 88 at College of Wooster, 38 at Kent State–and dozens more from the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Lake Erie College, Walsh University, Hiram College, John Carroll University and Telshe Yeshiva, a rabbinical college near Cleveland.[5]

According to the Times report, “So far, every county election board that has reviewed the dorm challenges found them invalid.”[6]

Many of these faulty registration challenges have been attributed to poor research methods and inaccurate information. For example, Mary Siegel, a leader of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, reportedly signed 422 “Challenge of Right of Person to Vote” forms based on a Postal Service change-of-address registry and submitted them to the Hamilton County elections board. She withdrew the challenges after the state declared the postal registry to be insufficient grounds to challenge voting rights.[7] According to Ms. Siegel, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project challenged voter registrations in 13 counties in Ohio, nine of which President Obama won in 2008.[8]

Another leader of the Ohio project, Marlene Hess Kocher, reportedly filed 420 challenges in Hamilton County over the last month. These included false allegations that eight members of an African American family were registered to vote at a vacant lot outside Cincinnati. When confronted at an elections board hearing about these illegitimate challenges, Ms. Kocher publicly apologized and claimed that she had “no intention of preventing somebody from voting.”[9]

In spite of this deplorable record, you personally commended the work of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, stating, “This is an excellent example of True the Vote-empowered grassroots groups pushing for transparency and accountability from their local officials.”[10]

Regarding Ohio, True the Vote announced a “favorable settlement with Ohio Secretary of State to Purge Voter Rolls. The following quotation is from Judicial Watch:

“Election officials in the State of Ohio are to be commended for shouldering their responsibility to maintain clean voter registration lists.  This is a historic settlement, the first of its kind in the history of the National Voter Registration Act.  Dirty election rolls can lead to voter and election fraud. Under the terms of this groundbreaking settlement, the people of Ohio can now rest easier that their elections will be cleaner, beginning with the 2014 elections.  The problem of dirty rolls is a nationwide problem, and Ohio’s good faith steps to address it can serve as a model for other states,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The historic, preferred settlement agreement between True the Vote and the State of Ohio outlines a number of voter roll maintenance procedures that will address outdated and bloated voter rolls in all 88 counties. A summary of the Ohio Settlement Agreement consists of:

  • Monthly utilization of federal data sources to collect out-of-state death notices for removal of deceased records;
  • Participation in the Kansas-administered Voter Registration Cross-Check Program to identify and remove outdated and/or duplicate records;
  • Utilize Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles data to update voter registrations with changes of address;
  • Dedicate resources to encourage voters to use online tools to keep voter records updated;
  • Build outreach programs to voters who do not consistently participate in election activities.

Back to Cummings’ letter:

Inaccurate Voter Challenges in Wisconsin

Problems with the tactics and methodologies employed by your organization were also identified in Wisconsin when a True the Vote affiliate known as Verify the Recall reviewed almost one million signatures on petitions demanding the recall of Governor Scott Walker. The New York Times reported that “thousands of volunteers helped enter petition signatures into a database, which was then analyzed by the group’s software.”[11]

According to the Times, however, a non-partisan state regulatory agency consisting of six former state judge appointees known as the Government Accountability Board reviewed True the Vote’s work and “criticized its methods” for basic errors:

For example: Mary Lee Smith signed her name Mary L. Smith and was deemed ineligible by the group.

Signatures deemed “out of state” included 13 from Milwaukee and three from Madison.

The group’s software would not recognize abbreviations, so Wisconsin addresses like Stevens Point were flagged if “Pt.” was used on the petition.[12]

In a memorandum evaluating True the Vote’s poor record in Wisconsin, the Government Accountability Board concluded that your organization’s results “were significantly less accurate, complete and reliable than the review and analysis completed by the G.A.B.” and “would not have survived legal challenge.”[13]

The Government Accountability Board also found that software developed by True the Vote was flawed, writing:

It is staff’s conclusion that True the Vote’s results are at best flawed because of what must be described as a “strict compliance” standard coupled with a model that allows errors to be multiplied via the volunteer data entry. These errors led to many computer determined strikes as the software can only evaluate the information entered, so if it was flawed or incomplete there was no opportunity for determining validity under a substantial compliance standard.[14]

Regarding True the Vote in Wisconsin:

From the time the union-backed group, United Wisconsin, launched a Recall Petition to force the recall elections of Gov. Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four other senators, until yesterday at 8:00 p.m. CT when the polls closed, citizens across Wisconsin rolled up their sleeves, put on their waders, and jumped in to defend the integrity of their elections.

When Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board announced it would not audit the petition signatures collected by the unions, True the Vote built an online data entry program and helped launch the Verify the Recall effort. Wisconsinites, along with fellow Americans from all 50 states, got involved and within days, 17,000 volunteers had joined in to help conduct an independent, citizen-led audit of epic proportion. Over a 32 day period, 8.3 million records were entered, and thousands upon thousands of ineligible signatures were revealed along with the signatures of many sitting judges, district attorneys, and journalists, shattering any illusion of their impartiality in government affairs.

But the commitment to fair elections didn’t end there. When it came time to work at the polls, a coalition of groups from across Wisconsin helped sponsor True the Vote Election Observer trainings all over the state and online, helping us train about 500 volunteers in a very short period of time. Their remarkable conviction led to the mobilization of a small army of Election Observers who stood sentinel at the polls to ensure the sanctity of the vote was preserved for all voters.

Back to Cummings’ Letter:

Similar Problems in Other States

The problems documented in Ohio and Wisconsin are similar to those identified in other states. For example, in North Carolina, Jay DeLancy, who runs the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina, a group he started after attending a True to Vote meeting, told the New York Times that the group recently submitted the names of 30,000 people he claimed were dead, yet remained on state voter rolls. The Times also reported that he challenged more than 500 registered voters he claimed were not American citizens. After reviewing these challenges, North Carolina election officials refuted nearly all of them.[15]

Moreover, North Carolina’s Director of Voter Registration and Absentee Voting publicly criticized True the Vote’s challenges, stating:

People are concerned about voter fraud, but … we are not finding evidence of (such fraud). The Voter Integrity Project has not brought forth any information to show that someone is voting in the name of another, and I think citizens in North Carolina need to be aware of that.[16]

Similarly, Election Integrity Maryland, another statewide initiative “empowered” by True the Vote, reportedly filed 11,000 challenges this year with local Maryland election boards.[17] Among these challenges, the group filed a request to review registration records with the Maryland Board of Elections on August 30, 2012, alleging that “it found several potential dead voters, voters who registered after they had died and a living Maryland resident who has been voting twice in elections for years.”[18]

Maryland’s Director of Voter Registration has reported to Committee staff that, after investigating claims in the article, information provided by the organization “was determined to be inaccurate.” Another state election official also reported that one of the leaders of Election Integrity Maryland recently called the Board of Elections to apologize for inaccurate press reports that the group believes mischaracterized its voter registration challenges.[19]

Local and state election officials in Maryland have also “questioned some of the research methods used by Election Integrity such as newspaper obituary notices, which is an unacceptable form of death verification under state law, and Facebook.”[20] In addition, Maryland election officials report that “they’ve reviewed the challenges and that most of the inconsistencies can be explained, or that they don’t have enough information to take someone off the rolls.”[21] With respect to the volume of voter registration challenges submitted by the group, Maryland election officials “say those numbers are way overblown.”[22]

Regarding Maryland (and Florida):

True the Vote announced research findings of evidence of 173 instances of alleged voter fraud by simultaneous voting in multiple states in the same elections on August 13. True the Vote compared data from voter registration databases plus voting history in Florida and Maryland. The criteria used to identify the individuals was full name, address, and date of birth and included a check of voting history to see if they voted in the same federal elections between 2006 and 2012.

States typically allow a voter to have more than one address, even in another state, associated with a voter registration. The voter might be a college student or be serving in the military. Some people have vacation homes and add them to their voter registrations because they might be on vacation during an election. Florida has large universities, numerous military bases, and many vacation homes owned by out-of-state property owners.

Even when an individual is registered to vote multiple times, it’s not necessarily wrongdoing by that person. It is possible the person moved and notified his local elections office and the local elections office accidentally failed to delete his registration from their database. It is also possible that a failure to delete the voter registration was deliberate and the obsolete voter registration will be kept on the books and secretly passed to a repeater to cast fraudulent ballots using the assumed name in future elections. It requires investigation by voting officials to make a determination in these cases.

Back to Cummings’ letter:

Request for Documents and Information

In order to examine why your organization appears to be responsible for so many illegitimate voter registration challenges, I request that you provide the following information and documents:

(1) a list of all individual voter registration challenges by state, county, and precinct submitted to governmental election entities, including correspondence and determinations by election officials relating to each challenge;

(2) copies of all letters sent to states, counties, or other entities alleging non-compliance with the National Voter Registration Act for failing to conduct voter registration list maintenance prior to the November elections;
(3) a list of voter registration rolls by state, county, and precinct that True the Vote is currently reviewing for potential challenges;

(4) copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities;

(5) copies of computer programs, research software, and databases used by True the Vote to review voter registration;

(6) all contracts, agreements, and memoranda of understanding between True the Vote and affiliates or other entities relating to the terms of use of True the Vote research software and databases;

(7) a list all organizations and volunteer groups that currently have access to True the Vote computer programs, research software, and databases; and

(8) a list of vendors of voter information, voter registration lists, and other databases used by True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliates.

Please provide these documents by October 14, 2012. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Elijah E. Cummings
Ranking Member

End Elijah Cummings letter (Thanks to VoteSmart for the letter text)

Linked at Charleston Voice, here’s a quote from their story (something I have groused about more than once): 

Can you begin to see now how your churches have abandoned you – - they muzzle the truth from their flocks to keep their IRS exempt charter from scrutiny. Their hands tremble at the scripture rostrums. Take your Bible, and go it alone with you and Jesus, you’ll be better off and a patriotic American to stand with Catherine Engelbrecht.

Linked at Grumpy Opinions. Read Poll Shows TEA Party Supporters Outnumber Moderates and Democrats.

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