Meet Hans von Spakovsky, yet another major player in what McClatchy straightforwardly calls the administration's "vote-suppression agenda."
We've spent a lot of time introducing you to one of von Spakovsky's closest peers, Bradley Schlozman. Schlozman, you'll remember, presided over the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division with an iron hand, making sure that the division was stocked with hard-line Republicans and that career staff in the voting rights section in particular were punished when they stepped out of line. Schlozman was rewarded for his tenure there with an appointment as the U.S. attorney for Kansas City in 2006 -- he proved reliable there too, delivering voter-fraud indictments just days before the election. Schlozman will be appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in two weeks, alongside Todd Graves, the fired U.S. attorney he replaced.
Well, Von Spakovsky was Tweedledee to Schlozman's Tweedledum at the Civil Rights Division. The two worked together in overseeing the voting rights section, and in particular in ensuring that the section, which is tasked with stopping the implementation of voting laws that might impinge on the rights of minorities, did not block voter ID laws. As I reported last month, the two teamed up to make life hell for one section analyst who had had the temerity to object to Georgia's voter ID law (the one ultimately blocked by a federal judge who compared it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax).
But as McClatchy reports this morning, von Spakovsky did not confine his activities to the Justice Department. He was also busy making sure that the Election Assistance Commission, a tiny agency that serves as the government's election information clearinghouse, stayed in line. And that meant making sure that whatever research it published conformed to the voter-fraud orthodoxy. But unfortunately for von Spakovsky, the commission's chairman Paul DiGregorio was hard to control:
After the commission hired both liberal and conservative consultants to work on the studies in 2005, e-mails show that von Spakovsky tried to persuade panel members that the research was flawed.
In an Aug. 18, 2005, e-mail to Chairman DiGregorio, he objected strenuously to a contract award for the ID study to researchers at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, who were teaming with a group at Rutgers University.
Von Spakovsky wrote that Daniel Tokaji, the associate director of Moritz' election program, was "an outspoken opponent of voter identification requirements" and that those "pre-existing notions" should disqualify him from federal funding for impartial research.
So von Spakovsky (surprise, surprise) got him canned:
Last September, the White House replaced DiGregorio with Caroline Hunter, a former deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee. DiGregorio confided to associates that he was told that von Spakovsky influenced the White House's decision not to reappoint him, said the two people close to the panel.
Asked about his ouster, DiGregorio said only that he "was aware that Mr. von Spakovsky was not pleased with the bipartisan approaches that I took."
Now, von Spakovsky, like Schlozman, was also rewarded for his time in the Civil Rights Division. He was given a recess appointment to sit as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission in December 2005. A confirmation hearing --which you can expect to be contentious -- is scheduled for June 13th.