A former Trump voter fraud commissioner will apologize to citizens he wrongly described as noncitizens in reports claiming mass voter fraud in Virginia, according to a tentative settlement agreement reached this week in a lawsuit brought against the commissioner.
J. Christian Adams and his group the Public Interest Legal Foundation were sued last year over the “Aliens Invasion” reports they released in 2016 and 2017. The reports — which included names, phone numbers, addresses and social security numbers of individuals removed from voter rolls allegedly because they were noncitizens — amounted to defamation and voter intimidation, the lawsuit alleged.
Under the terms of the freshly announced agreement, PILF will have to remove from its website the report exhibits containing the individuals’ personal information, according to a press release Wednesday from the groups that brought the suit.
According to the press release, PILF will also have to add a statement in front of the reports that says, “PILF recognizes that individuals in [the removed exhibits] were in fact citizens and that these citizens did not commit felonies. PILF profoundly regrets any characterization of those registrants as felons or instances of registration or voting as felonies.”
Southern Coalition for Social Justice attorney Allison Riggs, who represented the plaintiffs, called the settlement a “victory.”
“This case and its result should serve as a deterrent to anyone who might consider schemes to intimidate voters,” she said in the press release.
Cameron Kistler, of Protect Democracy, another group that helped bring the lawsuit, called the settlement “a big win for our democracy” as PILF had “agreed to put in place safeguards to ensure that they never again injure innocent Virginians.”
PILF acknowledged the settlement agreement in a press release of its own late Tuesday night, which noted its “profound apology that it relied so heavily on the commonwealth election records, it seemed implausible that Virginia would be improperly removing American citizens from the voter rolls.”
The group said it was nonetheless expanding its “efforts to document voter fraud and election vulnerabilities nationwide.”
“The Foundation looks forward to discussing the vast resources behind those who oppose election integrity and engage in efforts to stifle any speech that raises awareness of the real vulnerabilities in the security of American elections,” PILF said.
The defamation lawsuit was brought in federal court by the Richmond chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens as well as by individuals named in the reports who were in fact citizens.
PILF had tried to blame Virginia election officials for the inaccuracies, since the group had assembled the report based on voter roll records obtained from the state. However, when it published the 2017 report, the group also had in its possession internal emails among the election officials raising concerns about how the records were being misrepresented. Furthermore, the people who worked on the “Alien Invasion” reports had received other warnings about citizens being mislabeled as noncitizens, according to other documents released in the litigation.
As part of the new settlement, PILF agreed to redact personal identifying information in any future reports it publishes on alleged noncitizens illegally registered to vote in Virginia.
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