May 6, 2013

The Honorable Tom Harkin Chairman Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions United States Senate 428 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Senator Harkin: On behalf of our national network of citizen researchers, poll observers and concerned citizens who work to uphold election integrity across the country, True the Vote strongly encourages you to reject President Obama’s nominee, Thomas E. Perez, for U.S. Secretary of Labor. As this letter will substantiate, confirming Mr. Perez for any promotion only advances the growing problem of unequal, if not partisan, enforcement of the law. True the Vote and its affiliates have witnessed first-hand the mismanagement which the Civil Rights Division, particularly the Voting Section of the Department of Justice, has suffered under Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez. Individual states, voters and career DOJ employees have suffered greatly due to Mr. Perez’s open, unequal enforcement of law and activist tendencies. Mr. Perez, through political appointment and action, has made clear his intent to ignore key functions in federal election law – namely Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Under his management in 2009, political appointee and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandez briefed Voting Section staffers that federal requirements to maintain voter rolls would not be enforced under the current Administration because “[It] doesn’t increase turnout. It stops people from voting.” This misguided approach to law enforcement has opened numerous gaps, which private citizens have been forced to expose and correct. In 2012, True the Vote and Judicial Watch filed suit against the State of Indiana for failing to comply with Section 8 of the NVRA. Our analysis found that 12 Indiana counties held more than 100 percent voter registration – a clear indication that rolls were not being maintained according to federal statutes. The Justice Department did nothing to enforce the required maintenance of voter rolls. In fact, Mr. Perez allowed the expiration of Indiana’s consent decree with the Justice Department, which had been filed in 2006 to assure Section 8 compliance.

Adams, Christian J., Injustice (Washington: Regnery, 2011), 162–163.

True the Vote | 7232 Wynnwood Lane | Houston, Texas 77008

In June of 2012, True the Vote and Judicial Watch intervened on behalf of the State of Florida to defend their compliance with Section 8 of the NVRA after the Justice Department brought suit to halt the state’s efforts to lawfully update their voter rolls. Mr. Perez’s taxpayer-subsidized attempt to punish Florida was overturned by the court. In August of 2012, True the Vote and Judicial Watch brought suit against the State of Ohio for failure to comply with Section 8 of the NVRA. Our research found three counties held more than 100 percent voter registration, with an additional 30 counties just short of the same figure. Ohio officials claimed their failure to comply with law was largely due to the Department of Justice’s unwillingness to offer guidance on its NVRA compliance queries. Throughout 2012, True the Vote gave notice to 160 counties in 19 states with similar failures to comply with federal maintenance requirements. In April of 2013, private parties brought complaints against two Mississippi counties for claiming more than 120 percent voter registration. Despite the demonstrated need for such action, the Department of Justice has not brought a single lawsuit to clean voter rolls under Mr. Perez’s management. Mr. Perez’s racialist enforcement of the law is another well documented reason to reject his nomination to higher office. The Office of Inspector General spent four years investigating accusations of preferential treatment among races as it involved election law. The OIG report summarizes Perez’s department thusly 1: “Many of those individuals told the OIG that they believed that the reason the voting rights laws were enacted was to protect historic victims of discrimination and therefore the Section should prioritize its resources accordingly. Additionally, some of these individuals, including one current manager, admitted to us that, while they believed that the text of the Voting Rights Act is race-neutral and applied to all races, they did not believe the Voting Section should pursue cases on behalf of White victims.” Finally, Mr. Perez has led the Justice Department’s rogue campaign against photo voter identification laws; choosing to reject Supreme Court precedent, immense public support and the advice of senior career attorneys within the Department. Perez’s allies went to great lengths to target grassroots groups and private citizens, including True the Vote and myself 2, for our support of identification laws. The Justice Department has also waged court battles over photo voter identification against states like South Carolina and Texas, costing taxpayers millions of dollars in
U.S. Department of Justice; Office of Inspector General: A Review of Operations of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division (March 2013)
1

DOJ Depositions of Colby Beuck (http://bit.ly/12uatSm) and Patricia Harless (http://bit.ly/ 107HCmp) from May 2012
2

True the Vote | 7232 Wynnwood Lane | Houston, Texas 77008

direct litigation expenses to bankroll another of Mr. Perez’s ideological expeditions. His behavior signals a consistent inability to be a good steward of funds or a trustworthy guardian of justice. Fair and honest enforcement of election laws are critical to the continuance of our representative republic. Failure to prevent this appointment will only lead to further blurring of the lines between equal enforcement of the law and partisan gamesmanship in what should be our most trusted halls of power. Sincerely,

Catherine Engelbrecht Founder and President True the Vote CC: Senator Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Senator Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Senator Patty Murray, Washington Senator Richard Burr, North Carolina Senator Bernard Sanders, Vermont Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator Kay R. Hagen, North Carolina Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Senator Al Franken, Minnesota Senator Pat Roberts, Kansas Senator Michael F. Bennet, Colorado Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Senator Mark Kirk, Illinois Senator Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Senator Tim Scott, South Carolina Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Connecticut Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts

True the Vote | 7232 Wynnwood Lane | Houston, Texas 77008

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