DNC Launches Broad Legal Attack On RNC Over Trump’s ‘Voter Fraud’ Crusade

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2014 file photo, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the RNC winter meeting in Washington. Preibus acknowledges the GOP is “a tale of two parties,” in an inter... FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2014 file photo, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the RNC winter meeting in Washington. Preibus acknowledges the GOP is “a tale of two parties,” in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’ve got a midterm party that doesn’t lose, and a presidential party that’s having a hard time winning,” he said. But he declined to blame the split on policy, be it immigration or budget gridlock that House Republicans have helped bring about. Instead, he said the party has largely conceded minority and younger voters by not engaging them directly in their communities. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) MORE LESS
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In a dramatic escalation of a long legal battle between the national Democratic and Republican parties — and in what is arguably a fitting culmination to the year of Donald Trump — the Democratic National Committee is asking a federal court to hold the Republican National Committee in contempt of court for allegedly violating a decades-old consent decree limiting so-called “ballot security” activities at poll places.

The Democrats’ filing Wednesday, among other things, ask that the consent decree — which is set to expire Dec. 17 — be extended for another eight years. The DNC is also asking the court to block any coordination between Trump and the RNC as it relates to Election Day poll monitoring activities that many fear will amount to voter intimidation.

The legal move by the DNC comes in response to Donald Trump’s calls for vigilante “poll watchers” to come out in force nationwide on Election Day. The RNC had hoped to be freed from the consent decree as soon as next year, and Trump’s actions now threaten to hobble the GOP for nearly another decade, if Democrats have their way.

As Trump has amped up his rhetoric claiming a “rigged elections” and urged his supporters “go over and watch” voting sites in “certain areas, the RNC has tried desperately to distance itself from the campaign’s poll monitors efforts, given the consent decree. But Trump campaign hasn’t made that easy. Wednesday’s filing cites comments made by Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump’s running mate, at a town hall event and by Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, to the Washington Post suggesting collaboration with the RNC on anti-voter fraud activities.

(Conway later told the Washington Post she was mistaken and the RNC at the time also denied collaboration).

“Although certain RNC officials have attempted to distance themselves from some of the Trump campaign’s more recent statements, there is now ample evidence that Trump has enjoyed the direct and tacit support of the RNC in its ‘ballot security’ endeavors, including the RNC’s collaboration on efforts to prevent this supposed ‘rigging’ and ‘voter fraud,'” the DNC’s court filing said.

The filing also points to the activities of state party leaders who are also members of the RNC that appeared to be inspired by Trump’s comments. The Pennsylvania GOP — led by chair Robert Gleason, also an RNC member — recently sued to allow for poll watchers to monitor voting sites outside their own precinct, which is currently prohibited by state law. Michigan Republican Party Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, an RNC member, said last week that the party’s attorneys were preparing “a massive statewide anti-voter fraud effort.”

The RNC consent decree does not technically apply to state parties, which are allowed to deploy poll watchers assuming they follow state law. Nevertheless, the national committee’s general counsel sent a letter to its members discouraging them from participating in such activities, even as state party or independent actors.

The consent decree originated from activities Republicans engaged in in the 1980s in New Jersey and elsewhere at ballot boxes that included, allegedly, deploying off-duty cops near polling places in minority communities and sending mailers to minority neighborhoods to create lists of voters to challenge at voting sites. Democrats sued over the activities, and the RNC ultimately agreed to a consent decree that severely limited what it could do at polling places in terms of election monitoring.

As part of litigation around the decree a few years ago, a judge modified it to allow it to expire on December 1, 2017, unless the the RNC was found in violation of it again, at which point it would face an eight-year extension.

As Ben Ginsberg, a GOP attorney whose worked for a number of party organizations, said on MSNBC last week, “They are eager to have it come off next year.”

The RNC did not respond to TPM’s initial request for comment.

Read the court filing below:

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for nemo nemo says:

    About f**ing time.

  2. Trump’s insanity is the visible bit of the iceberg. The GOP has consistently sought to suppress the votes of anyone it thinks won’t vote its way. Voter ID, gerrymandering, and a host of other tactics are part of the strategy. You want to talk about tyranny? Look at what they do. Bastards.

  3. Avatar for buford buford says:

    Roger Stone has had other ideas lately…Roger Stone is a Russian operative, trying to influence our election…Roger Stone needs to be looked at very closely by the authorities…

  4. I think they are right. Voter fraud is rampant. Their control of the House and the Senate is illegitimate.

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