I rarely stray from the subject of firearms on this blog. Today will be “one of those days”.
If you’ve had Fox News on in the past few days, or cruised right- or left-leaning blogs or websites in the same timeframe, you’ve probably come across reports that the Department of Justice has dropped portions of a voter intimidation case. Nightstick-wielding New Black Panther Party members stood 5 feet away from a Philadelphia polling place during the November 2008 election, verbally threatening voters and calling a black Republican poll watcher a “race traitor”. You’ve probably also seen video of one of the men involved making incredibly racist statements. I won’t cover that subject very much.
What you may or may not have seen – perhaps you have, if you saw Fox News’ Megyn Kelly verbally destroy Kirsten Powers during a debate on the subject – is that in addition to feverishly attempting to perform a character assassination of the DOJ attorney/whistleblower who resigned as a result of the DOJ decision, left-wing folks brought up an alleged case of voter intimidation in Pima County, Arizona, during the November 2006 election, a case which was not pursued by the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush. This is another “Bush’s fault” attack.
In this case, three men, one openly carrying a Glock handgun, were outside a polling place, allegedly to intimidate Latino voters. Two men are repeatedly identified by name – Russ Dove and Roy Warden, and they have histories of making, shall we say, inflammatory statements. Both have been arrested for various public confrontations with illegal immigration activists. Both, in my opinion, are an embarrassment to true conservatives, just like that moronic neo-nazi, JT Ready. But that’s not relevant.
In this case, they were supposedly photographing voters who didn’t speak English well enough in an attempt to dissuade voting by illegal aliens. Media Matters boldly asserts that the circumstances were “nearly identical” to the 2008 incident.
If you read the last article cited by Media Matters, though, you’ll notice that a Pima County election official makes a reference to events occurring outside the 75 foot barrier between polling places and those who are not voting or assisting those who are voting (among other allowed persons). In other words, the three men were not inside that 75 foot barrier. Many references are made to the fact that Warden was carrying a firearm, although under Arizona law, it is only illegal to carry a weapon into a polling place. It is legal to stand, armed, 75 feet away from one, even if you are not there to vote.
Section 11(b) of the federal Voting Rights Act, however, does not specify that anyone in particular has to be intimidated, only that intent to intimidate is illegal. Thus, anyone (like Kirsten Powers) who says that the NBPP thugs in Philadelphia “didn’t really intimidate anyone” – even though they did – has not read the law and does not know what they are talking about.
Still, isn’t standing 75 feet away from a polling place, armed, taking photographs and distributing a petition to require a perfect understanding of English in order to vote intimidating? That’s the case Media Matters and Kirsten Powers and everyone else on the left is making. They’re also saying that because the DOJ (under “Evil Overlord Bush”) declined to pursue any action, civil or criminal, against the men in Arizona, it is okay for the DOJ under President Obama to essentially drop the Philadelphia case, and stupid for anyone else to talk about it. “Where were you then?!” they cry. The real question, as you will see, is “where did all the lefties go in 2006?”
Clearly, though, the Bush DOJ “acted stupidly.” The whistleblower, Christian Adams, who resigned over the Philadelphia case, must have thrown the Arizona case into the trash because he is a fat white Republican, which is everything that is wrong with America. Again, this is what Media Matters is pushing.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. They do not seem to be willing to dig any deeper than citing the May 2010 testimony of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, in which the Arizona case is referenced, and news articles about the incident immediately following the November 2006 election. If they did, they might find something…in fact, it’s what you don’t find that is most enlightening.
– The ACLU had been chomping at the bit to attack Ohio over its then-new voter ID law (Arizona had just passed a similar law), which the ACLU said would result in voter intimidation; it was also concerned about voter intimidation in general.
– MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund) is cited by name in most articles, as is the name of one of its’ lawyers, Diego Bernal. The organization seems enraged by the account and states that it has contacted the FBI. They seem to want an investigation.
– The story was posted on the Daily Kos and other such websites.
After that, though – that is, a few days after the election – nothing. Absolutely no reference to the incident in any newspaper in the United States, that I could find, although the local story was picked up by several out of state papers, including the New York Times. One blog provided a link to a MALDEF press release about the incident, which has since disappeared – although other press releases from the same time frame are still online. Sure, there are obscure Youtube references and blog references in 2009 and 2010, not to mention the recent flareup, but these only cite old information. Why were all of those apparently concerned parties no longer concerned?
Because what the men did in Arizona wasn’t voter intimidation. Even according to a blogger who seemed disgusted by their actions and was on scene that day, “nothing happened”. Dove managed to get four people to sign the petition – this is not illegal or a form of intimidation – and Warden apparently did not directly interact with any potential voters. According to the SPLC, “Warden may come off like a raving lunatic, but he is well versed in free-speech and self-defense laws, and he exercises his rights to the limit.”
Presumably, Warden might also be familiar with Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, relating to voter intimidation.
According to AAG Perez, “the standard for proof (for 11(b) violations) is high”. In fact, only three 11(b) violations have ever been prosecuted since its inception. Also according to AAG Perez, “reasonable minds can differ and can look at the same set of facts but draw different conclusions regarding whether the burden of proof has been met.” He apparently liked that line, because he said it several times during his testimony.
Still convinced that this is all Bush’s fault? Well, the individual heading the criminal section of the Voting Rights Division today is the same person that led it back in 2006 – Mark Kappelhoff, who contributed over $2000 to Obama’s campaign in 2008 and over $1000 to Kerry’s in 2004. Thus, he would have had a lot of say regarding whether to proceed with criminal charges in both cases.
“The Voting Section sent lawyers to Arizona to investigate these allegations. They were told that the people in question (who were apparently there with some sort of English-only petition) did not enter the polling place and stayed outside the state-imposed limit around polling places where campaigning is forbidden. No one (including Democratic poll watchers) saw them talking to any voters while they were there — nor could the lawyers find any evidence that they prevented or discouraged anyone from entering the polling place (which is directly contrary to the witnesses in the NBPP case, who testified that they saw voters approaching the polls turn around and leave when they saw the Panthers blocking the entrance to the polling place).”
Thus, Media Matters’ claim that the two cases are “nearly identical” is laughably false, and they would have found that out if they had bothered to do a few hours’ worth of research. Then again, this is the same group that cited fake Research 2000 polls, right along with the Daily Kos (which is now suing Research 2000), because they fit their preconceived notions about the right. The same thing happened here. “It looks good for our side, so don’t dig any further.”