Knowing this, you probably will not be very surprised by how Congress handled this serious matter. Still, you would expect that members of Congress would be concerned that they may lose a lot of their power if they can no longer rely on getting votes to get elected and instead have to rely on the whim of those who control the secret vote counting computers. After all, members of Congress wouldn’t want to lose their power and be relegated to pandering to those who control the machines, would they?
Well, let’s see. John Russell filed his contest of the official vote "count" in Florida’s 2006 election in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of course, like Bush and so many Neo-Cons who claim that they are seeking your votes so that they can serve the public, Ginny Brown-Waite took legal action to try to stop the will of the voters from determining her "election" by filing a motion to dismiss.
We can’t have the official vote "count" being questioned in America, can we? Why that would be un-American, wouldn’t it? After all, you can’t have a democracy if you’re going to have people wanting to make sure that their votes get counted, can you? The count is the count, no need to count anything again! This is America, you sore loser!
So, John Russell filed a response to Brown-Waite’s motion to dismiss. His response pointed out that her motion failed to raise any ground for dismissal of an election contest under the Federal Contested Elections Act, 2 USC § 381 et seq., and asked the House Committee on Administration to deny her motion or hold a hearing on it. Imagine asking Congress to follow the law!
Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Chair of the House Committee on Administration, sent a letter to John Russell saying that the Committee would notify the parties when it reached a decision on how it intended to proceed. It seems that this letter was sent before the House received John Russell’s response which pointed out that there was no legal basis to dismiss his contest.
A couple of months went by as we continued to try to get support for our efforts to obtain an accurate count of the votes cast in Florida in 2006 and to restore a process in which the votes could be counted accurately. Something that you would expect in a democracy or a democratic republic unless of course, you’re talking about some little third world country with Democratic Republic in its name only.
On May 7, 2007, we received a message from a staff member of one of the members of the House Committee on Administration informing us unofficially that the Committee would hold a hearing on the election contests brought by John Russell, Clint Curtis, and Frank Gonzalez the very next day! Congresswoman Millender-McDonald had passed away suddenly and apparently the new Committee Chair, Robert A. Brady, a Democrat from Pennsylvania’s First District, decided to hold a hearing without giving us any notice or an opportunity to be heard, fundamental requirements of due process designed to protect us from decisions being made in secret without our input in our "Democratic Republic."
In order to remind Congressman Brady and the other members of the Committee of the fundamental requirements of due process and their duty to follow them, I prepared John Russell’s Renewed Request for Denial of the Contestee’s Motion to Dismiss or for a Hearing on the Same, and I prepared requests for Clint Curtis and Frank Gonzalez. I sent these requests via facsimile to the Clerk of the House and Staff Counsel for the Committee and via email to the chiefs of staff for each member on the Committee.
These requests pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has required the legislative branch to act in a manner consistent with due process which of course, requires notice and an opportunity to be heard, and also requires the government to follow the law. Once again, the motion to dismiss did not raise any legal basis to dismiss the contests. So, although we were concerned that the Committee was going to hold a hearing without inviting us or even notifying us, we thought that it would be very unlikely that the Committee would just decide to ignore the law and cover up election fraud.
In spite of notice that the Committee would be violating the fundamental requirements of due process by holding a hearing without giving the contestants notice and an opportunity to be heard, it went forward with the hearing anyway. Apparently, the members of the Committee didn’t want any embarrassing questions being raised in their nearly secret session, and when you find out what they decided, you’ll see why.
The members of the House Committee on Administration, Robert A. Brady (D-1st/PA), Zoe Lofgren (D-16th/CA), Michael Capuano (D-8th/MA), Charles A. Gonzalez (D-20th/TX), Susan A. Davis (D-53rd/CA), Artur Davis (D –7th/AL), Vernon Ehlers (R-3rd/MI), Dan Lungren (R-3rd/CA), and Kevin McCarthy (R-22nd/CA), voted unanimously to recommend dismissal of the election contests brought by John Russell, Clint Curtis, and Frank Gonzalez.
Since I had pointed out that the motions to dismiss the contests had not raised any legal basis for dismissal provided by the Federal Contested Elections Act, the Committee concocted a new reason for dismissal, that ballot secrecy rules prevented the voters from testifying about how they voted!!! A staff member informed us of this "reason" via email, and it was also confirmed by Brad Friedman, see House’s Dismissal of Fla. Election Contests.
Could it be that any member of Congress does not understand that the law protects a voter from being required to disclose how he or she voted, but that it does not make it a state secret that the voter may never reveal? Not only is this "reason" for dismissal complete nonsense, it is also not a ground for dismissal under the Federal Contested Elections Act.
As of several months later, the transcript of this hearing was still not available, and to this day, the Committee has not sent any notice of its decision to me or my clients. It’s no wonder these fine upstanding members of Congress wanted to hold this hearing in secret. They obviously didn’t want anyone ever knowing that they ignored the law and covered up election fraud.
After the Committee members’ stunning displays of lack of concern for the law and of total disregard for democracy, we spent a few weeks trying to decide what to do. Clint and Frank decided not to pursue their contests any further.
However, John Russell didn’t want to give up, and I sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi informing her that we would file a lawsuit seeking an injunction in Federal court if the House voted to ignore the law and dismiss John Russell’s contest or if the House did not allow John’s contest to proceed. Unfortunately, we received no positive response from the Democratic leadership in Congress. Although we still have not been notified that Congress has ever voted to dismiss the contests by John, Clint, or Frank, other action was taken, but you’ll have to wait to see what the powers that be did next.
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