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Bush Operative Pushes Voter-ID Law

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Also posted at my new investigative news magazine The Public Record

A senior legal adviser to the Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection campaign is working behind the scenes to help enact a Missouri state constitutional amendment that critics say would suppress the vote in the key battleground state this November by requiring voters to show proof of citizenship.

Mark “Thor” Hearne, Bush-Cheney’s national counsel in 2004 and now a partner in the St. Louis, Missouri, firm of Lathrop & Gage click here has been collaborating with Missouri’s Republican state Rep. Stanley Cox, the sponsor of the constitutional amendment click here Cox’s office confirmed this week.

For years, Hearne has been a leading Republican figure demanding stricter voter-identification laws and popularizing claims about widespread voter fraud, although many election experts dismiss such alarms as hyperbole.

During the 2004 campaign, Hearne reportedly worked with White House political adviser Karl Rove on “voter fraud” issues and spearheaded GOP efforts to challenge voter-registration drives by pro-Democratic groups.

According to a posting at his law firm’s Web site, “Hearne traveled to every battleground state and oversaw more than 65 different lawsuits that concerned the conduct of the election.”

Hearne also has shown up as a background figure in the Bush administration’s scandal that erupted over the firing of nine federal prosecutors, some of whom came under White House criticism for not seeking pre-election voter fraud indictments in 2006.

More recently, Hearne has been instrumental in pushing state lawmakers to pass strict voter identification laws in Missouri, New Mexico, Indiana and other states. The Indiana voter-ID law recently was upheld by the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hearne conducted much of this work through his now defunct organization, the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), which called itself a non-partisan group defending voter rights and seeking to enhance public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections.

However, an investigation <>  into ACVR by blogger Brad Friedman reported that it concentrated on stricter voter-ID laws. “Thor Hearne helped to write that Indiana law, then Thor Hearne submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of Republican U.S. Congress members in support of it.”

GOP Strategy

Rather than an epidemic of illegal voters casting ballots, some election experts point to a nationwide Republican strategy of exploiting those concerns to depress the voting of low-income and minority citizens and thus boost the chances of GOP candidates.

Joseph Rich, formerly chief of the voting section in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said that under the Bush administration the department “shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights.”

“Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections,” Rich wrote in a March 29, 2007 click here op-ed in The Los Angeles Times.

“From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.”

One of the chief advocates for tilting the Justice Departments scales in the direction of voter fraud was Hearne, who has testified widely urging that voter fraud, not voter suppression, should be the government’s priority.

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)
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