Judicial Watch Sues DOJ for ACLU Coordination Documents on Effort to Stop Florida Voter Registration Clean-Up
MAY 08, 2013
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on April 30, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) for “all records of communications” between the DOJ and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) relating to the June 8, 2012, lawsuit filed by the ACLU for the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund to prevent the state of Florida from purging its voter registration lists of ineligible voters (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:13-cv-00605-RLW)).
On June 14, 2012, Judicial Watch had submitted a FOIA request to the DOJ requesting the following information:
All records of communications between the Department of Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) concerning, regarding, or relating to Mi Familia Vota Education Fund v. Detzner, 12-cv-1294, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Tampa)
By a letter dated June 18, 2012, the DOJ acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA request and was required by law to respond by July 17, 2012. It failed to do so.
The Judicial Watch lawsuit asks that the District Court to order the Obama DOJ to “conduct a search for any and all responsive records” to the FOIA request and to “produce, by a certain date, any and all non-exempt records,” along with an index of any records the department continues to declare exempt. It also asks the court grant Judicial Watch attorney’s fees and additional litigation costs.
The Florida clean-up of ineligible voters came in response to a February 2012, letter of inquiry sent by Judicial Watch to Florida election officials. Judicial Watch alerted the State of Florida that failure to maintain clean voter registration lists violates Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
In response to Florida’s resulting efforts to comply with the NVRA, the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, on June 8, 2012, filed its suit against the state. The DOJ then followed with its own lawsuit on June 12, 2012, asking a federal court to enjoin the state from taking steps to inquire about the presence of non-eligible aliens on voting rolls. Judicial Watch moved to intervene in the case to defend Florida’s voter list maintenance efforts; the Court subsequently sided with Florida and Judicial Watch and denied the DOJ’s attempt to stop Florida from removing non-citizens from the voter rolls. (A year earlier, on June 20, 2011, the ACLU, acting in conjunction with Project Vote, had sent a letter to the DOJ complaining about a new Florida election integrity law that sought to avoid the massive voter registration fraud caused by Project Vote and its partner ACORN in 2008.)
The FOIA lawsuit in the Florida Mi Familia Vota case is not the first time Judicial Watch has filed suit against the Obama DOJ to obtain information about its relationship with the ACLU. On June 1, 2012, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ to obtain records detailing the agency’s communications with the ACLU involving Pennsylvania House Bill 934, commonly referred to as Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. Judicial Watch previously obtained documents from the DOJ showing that the agency worked with the ACLU to mount their respective legal challenges to SB 1070, Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law.
“There is an unholy alliance between the Obama Department of Justice and leftist organizations such as the ACLU that is a fundamental challenge to the integrity of our electoral system – one that could allow non-citizens to remain on the voting rolls and illegally vote in American elections,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “That the DOJ couldn’t bother to answer simple questions as required by federal law about one piece of litigation again shows that Eric Holder’s agency has contempt for transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.”