Notorious Von Spakovsky Email On Voter Fraud Commission Entered As Evidence

Full committee hearing on the nominations of Hans von Spakovsky; David Mason; Robert Lenhard; and Steven Walter, each to be a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission.
Douglas Graham/CQ-Roll Call Group

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS — In order to impeach the testimony of Hans von Spakovsky, a witness called to defend Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship requirement, ACLU lawyer Dale Ho introduced as evidence an email von Spakovsky wrote about the now-defunct Trump voter fraud commission.

In the email, von Spakovsky said that putting Democrats or even “mainstream Republicans” on the commission would result in “abject failure.” The email was eventually passed on to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Ho also presented a transcript of an audio recording in which von Spakovsky denied to a reporter that he had sent the email. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is defending the law, objected, unsuccessfully, to the admission of the transcript.

Read the latest reporter’s sum-up (Prime access) on voting rights »

Last September, before von Spakovsky was revealed as the sender, a reporter for Pro Publica asked him about the email, which was originally surfaced via a FOIA request, with the name of the sender redacted. Von Spakovsky denied sending it.

After it was revealed that he did send it, Von Spakovsky said he had been confused because the reporter had phrased her question imprecisely, by asking about an email sent directly to Sessions. In fact, the email was forwarded to Sessions via intermediaries.

The email was sent before many of the commissioners, a group that would later include von Spakovsky, had been named. The commission was disbanded in January, facing several lawsuits over transparency and privacy issues.

“There are only a handful of real experts on the conservative side on this issue and not a single one of them (including [redacted]) have been called other than Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas,” the email said. “And we are told that some consider him too ‘controversial’ to be on the commission. If they are picking mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to man this commission it will be an abject failure because there aren’t any that know anything about this or who have paid any attention to the issue over the years.”

The email was presented by the ACLU’s Ho when he was asking von Spakovsky who else he considered to be an expert in non-citizens registering to vote, as von Spakovsky claims to be. Von Spakovsky has refused to name other experts, claiming that he is not aware of other people’s expertise and can only speak to his own.

Kobach objected to the admission of the transcript of the audio recording of von Spakovsky denying to the reporter that he wrote the email. Kobach argued that the transcript shouldn’t be admitted because, he said, Pro Publica has in the past misrepresented itself to Kobach. The reporter who asked von Spakovsky about the email (and tweeted audio of his response) is in the courtroom.

The judge allowed the audio, which Ho had provided, to be played.

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