In a private meeting last month with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”
The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones. Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.
All of these recommendations came straight from Heritage’s list of “best practices” drafted in February. With Heritage’s help, Anderson said, Georgia became “the example for the rest of the country.”…
Heritage Foundation fellow Hans von Spakovsky, a former George W. Bush administration official who for two decades has been the driving force behind policies that restrict access to the ballot, spoke alongside Anderson at the donor summit.
“Hans is briefing governors, secretaries of state, state attorney generals, state elected officials,” Anderson said. “Just what three weeks ago, we had a huge call with secretaries of state, right?”
“We’ve now for several years been having a private briefing of the best conservative secretaries of state in the country that has so annoyed the left that they have been doing everything they can to try to find out what happens at that meeting,” von Spakovsky replied.
“So far unsuccessfully,” Anderson said. “No leaks.”…
Other measures Anderson said Heritage drafted included “three provisions” in legislation adopted by Iowa Republicans a few weeks before Georgia’s law, including one placing voters on inactive status if they sit out one election cycle and removing them from the rolls if they fail to take action, a system that could lead hundreds of thousands of voters to be purged.
“Iowa is the first state that we got to work in, and we did it quickly and we did it quietly,” Anderson said. “We worked quietly with the Iowa state legislature. We got the best practices to them. We helped draft the bills. We made sure activists were calling the state legislators, getting support, showing up at their public hearings, giving testimony…Little fanfare. Honestly, nobody even noticed. My team looked at each other and we’re like, ‘It can’t be that easy.’” (Elias has also filed suit against the Iowa law.)