Reuters does a deep dive into the small cadre of vote suppressors such as von Spakovsky, Christian Adams and Cleta Mitchell:
This year, the Trump campaign and the Republican Party have cited concerns about voter fraud in a nationwide legal battle with Democrats and voting-rights advocates over election procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These lawyers have played an important role, arguing for restrictions on mail-in voting in the closely-watched states of Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina.
Four nonprofits run by or linked to this network of lawyers – the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the American Constitutional Rights Union, Judicial Watch and True the Vote – have been involved in at least 61 lawsuits over election rules since 2012, according to a Reuters examination. More than half have been initiated since Trump took office in 2017, including 11 cases concerning absentee or mail-in voting.
These groups have helped lead a larger movement in the Republican Party that has seen states pass restrictions on voting, including strict voter identification laws passed by nine states since 2005. They have sought purges of voter rolls that could disproportionately affect minority voters, who tend to vote for the Democratic Party, according to voting-rights advocates and election officials who have opposed these efforts.
Reuters examined court records, tax filings and leaked documents from a conservative foundation to piece together for the first time how this tight network of lawyers became a force in American politics, working through nonprofit groups to secure funding from right-wing donors.
The network includes J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an Indiana-based group dedicated to election integrity; Hans von Spakovsky, who runs the election integrity program at the conservative Heritage Foundation; Christopher Coates, a former Department of Justice lawyer who now works with legal advocacy group Judicial Watch; and Cleta Mitchell, a prominent Republican lawyer who chairs PILF.
Trump, saying he wanted an investigation into supposed voter fraud, appointed Adams and von Spakovsky to an election integrity commission in May 2017. It disbanded after less than a year without finding evidence of significant fraud. Adams told Reuters that was not the group’s mission….
This line in the report really caught my eye:
Von Spakovsky said the fraud he has found is just the tip of the iceberg, because “many prosecutors have no interest in investigating or prosecuting such cases.”
As I wrote in Chapter 1 of Election Meltdown (in a chapter called, “The Icicle”), the “tip of the iceberg” line featured prominently in the Fish v. Kobach case in which Kris Kobach tried to defend a Kansas law requiring people to register to vote to provide documentary proof of citizenship first. Kobach claimed the very little amount of noncitizen voting was just the “tip of the iceberg,” a claimed backed up by his expert, von Spakovsky.
The trial judge found von Spakovsky not credible, sanctioned Kobach for misleading the court, and rejected the tip of the iceberg argument. The court wrote:
“Evidence that the voter rolls include ineligible citizens is weak. At most, 39 [non]citizens have found their way onto the Kansas voter rolls in the last 19 years. And, as [plaintiffs’ expert] Dr. [Eitan] Hersh explained, given the almost 2 million individuals on the Kansas voter rolls, some administrative anomalies are expected. In the case of Kansas, this includes 100 individuals in [the state database] with birth dates in the 1800s, and 400 individuals with birth dates after their date of registration.”
“There is no iceberg,” the judge concluded, “only an icicle, largely created by confusion and administrative error.”