I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Feds are looking into voter intimidation (updated)
ALBUQUERQUE — An attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice met with a staff attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico today regarding reports of voter intimidation here, said a spokesperson for ACLU.
Before flying back to Washington, D.C., the attorney, who works in the voting section of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, picked up copies of the press packet handed out by state Republicans on Oct. 16.
On Monday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Rep. Justine Fox-Young, a Republican state lawmaker who released confidential information while making claims of vote fraud; a private investigator hired by a prominent Republican attorney; and as-yet-unnamed members of the state party. The lawsuit alleges that key members of the Republican Party of New Mexico violated the privacy rights of voters and illegally interfered with their right to vote.
As Talking Points Memo notes in a story just posted, some are concerned that the Department of Justice has been silent on voter intimidation in New Mexico, despite repeated pleas for investigation from various sources, including Common Cause.
“Our election protection coalition is encouraging the Department of Justice to look into allegations of voter intimidation in Bernalillo County,” Steven Robert Allen, executive director of Common Cause of New Mexico told the Independent. “This is an extremely important issue and I would hope that DOJ officials would act quickly to initiate an investigation as we’ve asked.”
There are two cases that stem from the press conference on Oct. 16, at which state Fox-Young said said “We are presenting undeniable proof that there was voter fraud in the June election,” before passing out packets of information that included incompletely redacted copies of voter registration cards.
“I think that what the defendants have done here does expose them to interest from the Department of Justice,” Nina Perales, southwest regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told the Independent late Wednesday.
On Monday, MALDEF filed a federal lawsuit against N.M. GOP attorney Pat Rogers and a private investigator who said he worked for Rogers in an attempt to “block threats and intimidation of eligible Latino voters.”
Perales said MALDEF had been in contact with employees in the voting section at the Department of Justice today. “What we’re doing to block this kind of intimidation is similar to what the Department of Justice Voting Rights Section could do, but I’ve never heard of them bringing such a case,” Perales said.
A call to the Voting Section Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was not immediately returned late Wednesday.
UPDATE: More context from Zach Roth at Talking Points Memo:
On Friday… Gerry Hebert — a former top voting-rights official at the Department of Justice, who now runs the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center (and is a frequent TPMmuckraker source) — forwarded the story, via email, to four current members of DOJ’s civil-rights division, which enforces voting laws.
Hebert, who served 21 years at DOJ’s criminal division, including a stint as acting head of the voting-rights section, wrote in his email, which was copied to TPMmuckraker: “I believe this conduct, if true, violates both the criminal and civil statutes your offices enforce, and thus warrants investigation by DOJ.” He asked the four recipients to acknowledge receipt of his email.
But this afternoon, five days later, Hebert told TPMmuckraker that he had received no response whatsoever.
However, after that story was posted, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice did tell TPM that ”The department is aware of the allegations and we’re looking into them.”
But we already knew that!