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A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
BROCK C. AKERS _____________
BOARD CERTIFIED PERSONAL INJURY AND CIVIL TRIAL LAW TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION CIVIL TRIAL ADVOCACY NATIONAL BOARD OF TRIAL ADVOCACY
ATTORNEYS AT LAW 3200 PHOENIX TOWER 3200 SOUTHWEST FREEWAY HOUSTON, TEXAS 77027-7523 (713) 552-9595 FAX (713) 877-2531 www.phillipsakers.com
DIRECT DIAL 713/877-2555 FAX 713/877-2505 e-mail: email@example.com
September 14, 2012
Bob Edgar, President Common Cause 1133 19th Street N.W. 9th Floor Washington, D.C. 20036 Miles Rapoport Demos 220 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor New York, NY 10001 Re: Common Cause/Demos references to True the Vote, King Street Patriots and Catherine Engelbrecht in recent report Dear Mr. Edgar and Mr. Rapoport: I represent True the Vote, King Street Patriots and Catherine Engelbrecht. It has come to our attention that you have recently co-published a report titled “Bullies at the Ballot Box” relating to voter intimidation among other things and have named my clients. We demand that you retract and rescind this misleading information that defames my clients with incorrect and exaggerated information.
King Street Patriots is a group of concerned citizens in the Houston, Texas area that was formed for the purpose of education and analysis of issues that are of interest and concern to people concerned about fiscal solvency and important social issues reflecting traditional values. King Street Patriots is completely separate from the activities of True the Vote, though your report often uses the names of these groups interchangeably. The sole purpose of True the Vote is to work to protect and maintain the absolute integrity of the voting process. The discovery of and multiple
examples of unabated and rampant election fraud throughout the country have demonstrated a crying need for an awareness of these issues. True the Vote provides a means to equip concerned citizens with the tools to ensure our republic is not corrupted at the ballot box. Your report suggests and implies that our work is coordinated by the Republican Party. This is simply not true, and is a complete fabrication. Ours is a non-partisan organization of both Democrats and Republicans, whose goal relates only to ensuring fair and free elections. We stand ready to assist the Democratic Party in any way that may help the electorate have confidence that the election process is not tainted by fraud. We have made numerous offers of our services to Democratic Party leaders throughout the country. To our surprise and dismay, some people within the Democratic Party have chosen to disparage us and cast aspersions as to the motivations behind our efforts. It appears that your report is intent on quoting from some of those sources, without concern as to whether there is an ounce of truth to them. In so doing, you become a shill yourselves for the Democratic Party, whom interestingly is never characterized in any negative light throughout your report. Our point is to not defend the Republican Party, since that is not our role. The point instead is that there is clearly hypocrisy inherent in the criticism of our group, which serves in a non-partisan way, when your report takes aim only in one direction. You suggest in the report that True the Vote poll watchers intimidated voters in the 2010 midterm elections. This is a flat out confabulation. One would think that before defaming our organization with accusations of criminal conduct, you would have at least some of the facts. Perhaps the facts don’t matter to you, either. On the off chance the truth does matter, you should know that True the Vote merely trains poll watchers. True the Vote does not, and cannot, place poll workers or watchers. Only a candidate, party or organization affiliated with a ballot initiative may be nominated to be a poll watcher in Texas. As to poll workers, only the county appoints such individuals. The purpose of True the Vote trained poll watchers is to participate for the purpose of ensuring that voters are not intimidated in any way. In the 2010 election you reference, when some local election officials took offense at the notion that their conduct was going to be actually monitored for the first time, false complaints were made. The Harris County Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice made inquiry following these charges and found literally nothing in terms of voter intimidation by True the Vote trained poll watchers--mostly retired women whose demeanor casts little threat to well intentioned people. Not one person participating as a poll watcher was identified as having committed an act of voting intimidation. Interestingly, the County Attorney revealed that their investigation revealed that the “hovering over” and confrontational conduct complained about was
all accomplished by election workers—the very people poll watchers exist to monitor and the source of the fictional complaints. None of the results of these allegations are reported—only that the allegations were made. Surely the result of the investigation into those allegations is much more newsworthy than the allegations themselves, but no effort is made to discuss the complete exoneration of my clients. The report takes grossly out of context a statement about voting “like driving and seeing the police following you.” This statement relates not to voters, but to the election poll workers who are in charge of an individual polling place. Indeed, much like a driver ahead of a police car is more likely to not speed or roll through a stop sign, election workers are more likely to follow the codified, statutory procedures set up to avoid a fraud tainted election. To imply as this report does that the goal of a True the Vote trained poll watcher is to affect an individual voter is fundamental mistake. It is hard to imagine the authors of the report do not understand this distinction, and that the quote was not consciously used to support a thesis which is flawed at its core. True the Vote has attempted to ensure that public officials responsible for the voter registration roles properly maintain those lists. Your report incorrectly suggests that the efforts to enforce statutes concerning the proper purging of voter registration lists is itself violated when the maintenance is within 90 days of an election. The National Voter Registration Act is not violated in any way when an election official properly purges deceased or otherwise ineligible voters (such as a duplicate listing) right up to the day of the election. The innuendo of improper conduct by True the Vote predicated on a misunderstanding of the law surely deserves correction. Similarly, an event hosted by King Street Patriots with Matthew Vadum as a speaker is part of your report’s intimation that my clients are improperly targeting welfare recipients. The quotes used by Mr. Vadum were of course not taken from a King Street Patriot event, but from other, out of context sources. Interestingly, at the event described in the report, Mr. Vadum was asked point blank questions about these issues and offered a response so reasonable that no one could begin to criticize them—unless his viewpoints are once again distorted. The point is not to defend Mr. Vadum, who can and should defend himself. The point is instead that this report is intended to skew the facts rather accurately report on what these organizations are about, what they stand for, and the tremendous service they offer to the election system. Jurisdictions with substantially more people on the voting rolls than show up in census counts, with voting participation levels that are grossly out of proportion with other neighboring areas, and where independent incidents of voting irregularities are
regularly observed are signals to a problem. There is no need to outline or detail the various incidents which reflect the problem ingrained in a system which has for many years looked the other way while election fraud flourished. Our organization seeks to solve problems, by serving the system with honor and integrity. Common Cause and Demos should be asking questions about why any election official should ever be concerned about a poll watcher? How does a seventy-five year old woman, sitting in the corner of a polling location, "intimidate" legitimate voters? Where is there evidence of impropriety on the part of our organization, as opposed to the hysterical and false claims made, which never bear fruit, but where the unfounded accusation is quoted so many times it miraculously transforms into an established fact? And when will we get past the time when charges of purported racism are thrown about with impunity, without a shred of evidence, save and except the contrivance of "racial undertones", discernible to only those who wish we did not pay attention to their activities and believe we can be beaten down with the proverbial "race card", even though it is the furthest thing from our minds or our activities? If one fraudulent vote is counted, it emasculates the legitimate voting power of ordinary Americans. That is a true tragedy. We urge you to not blindly adopt unfounded allegations and report them as established facts. Even the sources you quote concerning the allegations of voter intimidation indicate there was no finding of impropriety, yet you ignore these salient facts. Such defamation has consequences for all of us, not the least of which is the effect of diminishing your credibility. The solution for the problem that you have contributed to is to withdraw this report and publish a retraction. We will wait your response to our letter in terms of your correction and retraction. We are hopeful that that you will take immediate steps to minimize the damage that you have done by way of your false and defamatory statements. If you chose not to do so, such failure will be evidence of malice and the exposure you will thus face for this conduct will ultimately be judged accordingly.
Brock C. Akers BCA:pdg
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