Weekly Update: How Much to Feed the Pandas?
MARCH 28, 2014
Judicial Watch Issues Warning to Iowa, Colorado, and DC: Clean Up Your Voting Lists!
Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project yielded a major victory in January when JW and our client True the Vote reached a historic settlement with the state of Ohio resulting in an agreement by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to take a series of actions to further ensure that the state clean up voting rolls as required under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act.
This was a tremendous win for JW and its members for sure, but I want you to know when it comes to preventing voter fraud, we are just getting started.
In fact, on Monday of this week, JW held a press conference to announce a whole new group of states under our election integrity microscope. JW sent notice letters to top election officials in Iowa, Colorado, and the District of Columbia calling on them to follow Ohio’s lead and comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or face a Judicial Watch lawsuit within 90 days. (Judicial Watch attorneys Chris Fedeli and Robert Popper joined me at the press conference, which you can watch here.)
JW also sent inquiries on March 6, 2014, to officials in California, New Mexico, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois notifying them of potential “apparent problems” and asking these states to provide records of steps taken to assure the accuracy of voter lists. (If you live in any of these states, you should know that your home state also has voter list issues.)
Here’s a brief excerpt from my statement announcing this new initiative, which received widespread news coverage (click here to read The Washington Times piece):
Dirty voter rolls can mean dirty elections. Many states are shirking their legal responsibilities to maintain clean voter rolls. This undermines confidence in our election system. Outrageously, the Obama Justice Department simply refuses to enforce the federal law that requires states to take reasonable steps to clean voter rolls. Judicial Watch is now doing the job of the U.S. Justice Department.
Judicial Watch’s notifications to Secretaries of State in Iowa and Colorado and the Board of Elections Supervisors in the District of Columbia specifically warn:
We write to bring your attention to violations of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) … This letter serves as statutory notice that Judicial Watch will bring a lawsuit against your office if you do not take specific actions to correct these violations of Section 8 within 90 days. In addition, by this letter we are asking you to produce certain records to us which you are required to make available under Section 8(i) of the NVRA. We hope that litigation will not be necessary to enforce either of these claims.
In each state (and DC) we supported our accusations with specific evidence gathered by JW investigators indicating that each jurisdiction is “failing to comply with the voter registration list requirements of Section 8 of the NVRA.” Judicial Watch examined United States Census data and compared it with voter registration data sent by states to the Election Assistance Commission, a federal government entity:
- In Iowa: A comparison of 2012 Census data and 2012 Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data shows there were more people registered to vote than there were adults over the age of 18 living in each of the following 24 counties: Fremont, Johnson, Madison, Adams, Scott, Pocahontas, Kossuth, Poweshiek, Lyon, Cass, Dickinson, Clay, Chickasaw, Shelby, Boone, Worth, Hancock, Ida, Dallas, Audubon, Sac and Greene. A comparison with 2010 Census population estimates and 2010 EAC data shows that this trend has only worsened.
- In Colorado: A comparison of 2012 Census data and 2012 EAC data shows there were more people registered to vote than there were adults over the age of 18 living in each of the following 22 counties: Mineral, Ouray, Hinsdale, San Juan, Jackson, Gilpin, Summit, San Miguel, Gunnison, Dolores, Teller, Grand, Clear Creek, Elbert, Cheyenne, Archuleta, Pitkin, Boulder, Douglas, Routt, and Baca. A comparison with 2010 Census population estimates and 2010 EAC data shows that this trend has only worsened.
- In the District of Columbia: A review of Census data and EAC data shows there were more people registered to vote in DC than there were adults over the age of 18 living there as of 2010, and as of 2012, which is the most recent data available.
Meanwhile, the Judicial Watch notifications to election officials in Iowa, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and DC demand a response within 45 days, including the specific steps taken to comply with the law.
For example, as JW notes in its letter to election officials in California:
As you may know, under Section 8 of the NVRA states must “conduct a general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters,” including voters who become ineligible by reason of death or a change in residence of the registrant.
Accordingly, we ask you to please respond to this letter to address the apparent problems…as well as what additional steps [the state] plans to take to ensure its voter rolls are current and accurate in light of the above information.
Section 8 also requires states to make available for public inspection “all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters.” We ask you to provide this information along with your written response no later than 45 days from today.
As I say, Judicial Watch’s warning notifications are part of our continuing Election Integrity Project, which includes pushing states to comply with Section 8 of the NVRA, requiring that reasonable efforts be taken to maintain accurate voter registration lists. (Click here for more information on this project, and please consider supporting our cause with a tax-deductible donation!)
In addition to Ohio, JW joined with True the Vote to sue the state of Indiana under Section 8 of the NVRA as well. The litigation in Indiana is continuing and, as we made clear Monday, we are prepared to bring additional lawsuits if necessary.
Election integrity is at the top of the list of priorities for Judicial Watch and our members. The Left is prepared to get their candidates elected by hook or by crook. The only antidote to this corrupt strategy is the rule of law. And we intend to see it enforced.
Judicial Watch Battles Obamacare Secrecy, Corruption in Court
With the Obama administration’s ignoring or rewriting Obamacare seemingly on a daily basis in violation of law, Judicial Watch attorneys have turned up the heat on the Obama administration. JW filed two new lawsuits designed to break the Obama stonewall – both on his abuse of power and on the threats of Obamacare to welfare of the American people
On March 18, 2014, Judicial Watch filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to obtain government records about Obamacare.
One lawsuit seeks information about the December 19, 2013, decision by the Obama administration to establish new “hardship exemptions” that could allow most consumers to escape the Obamacare individual mandate without penalty. The second suit seeks records about security and privacy concerns surrounding the Obamacare healthcare.gov web portal, which has yet to recover from its disastrous roll-out.
JW filed its “hardship exemptions” lawsuit after a December 20, 2013, Judicial Watch FOIA request to HHS that was ignored. The lawsuit seeks the following information:
Any and all records of communications including, but not limited to, electronic communications (e-mails), between any officer or employee of the Centers for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), and any other employee or officer of CMS, the Department of Health and Human Services, and/or the Executive Office of the President, regarding the December 19, 2013 policy guidance issued by the CCIIO. For purposed of clarification, this policy guidance establishes a hardship exemption for consumers whose health insurance policies have been cancelled and allows those consumers to purchase “catastrophic” health insurance policies.
On December 19, 2013, the Obama administration announced it would grant controversial “hardship exemptions” to millions of Americans to allow them to avoid paying tax penalties for failing to comply with the Obamacare individual mandate.
Most observers agree that the “hardship exemptions” may be the most significant unilateral change that the Obama administration has yet made in government healthcare takeover. The changes would grant broad exemptions to anyone who “believes” that Obamacare coverage options “are unaffordable,” essentially opening the door to exemptions for almost anyone who finds the law unpalatable. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, “these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.”
And why would the Obama administration create exemptions to a mandate it has described as essential to the entire purpose of the healthcare overhaul?
Clearly Barack Obama feels the need to “protect” Democrats from the unpleasant ramifications of his healthcare monstrosity. Obamacare has thrown the country into chaos and Democrats do not want to suffer the consequences at the ballot box. This is all about politics.
The Judicial Watch healthcare.gov web portal security lawsuit was filed after HHS also ignored a December 20, 2013, FOIA request asking for:
Any and all records related to, regarding or in connection with the security of the healthcare.gov web portal including, but no limited to, studies, memoranda, correspondence, electronic communications (e-mails), and slide presentations from January 1, 2012 to the present.
In November 2013, web expert David Kennedy testified that the Obama administration had failed to secure the site from its inception and that adequate security protections were not built into the system. “Based on our findings,” Kennedy told the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, “we are confident that the security around the application was not appropriately tested prior to release, that the safeguards to protect sensitive information are not in place, and that there are and will continue to be for a significant amount of time serious security concerns with the website unless direct action is taken to address these concerns.”
In additional testimony provided to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in January 2014, Kennedy said that the Obama administration had done very little to address the web portal security concerns. “Since the November meeting, there has been a half of one issue fixed … of the 18 issues identified through passive reconnaissance,” Kennedy told the committee. “Some issues still include critical or high-risk findings to personal information or risk of loss of confidentiality or integrity of the infrastructure itself.”
This administration is in full stonewall mode on Obamacare.
This president thinks he can change, ignore, and rewrite Obamacare with zero accountability.
And this administration’s illegal secrecy about the threats to the privacy of Americans who use the Obamacare website ought to make taxpayers very nervous about sharing personal data through healthcare.gov.
How Much to Feed the Pandas?
“It’s very rare that I have the opportunity to travel outside of the United States, and it’s even more rare to have the opportunity to travel with three generations — with my daughters, and with my mother … And it is no accident that one of our first trips as a family is here to China.”
That’s Michelle Obama speaking at a school in Beijing last week. And yes, this is what she said verbatim. If you don’t believe me you can read it for yourself on the White House website, which posted the First Lady’s remarks in full.
Now, if you’ve read this space for any length of time, you get the joke. Mrs. Obama has been, from day one, a prolific jet-setter, traipsing around the world with family in tow and at taxpayers’ expense.
The cost of this China trip is still a state secret at least until JW fires off its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as we have done with previous Obama family vacations and trips. (Newsmax reported the cost of her 5-star, 3,400 square foot presidential suite at $8,400 per night!)
But while taxpayers are left to wonder how much they’ll have to pull out of their pockets to grant Mrs. Obama, her daughters and mother access to a Jacuzzi, sauna and 50-inch flat screen television, JW recently released details regarding the cost of Obama family vacations from 2013.
Last Thursday, March 19, we released flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that President Obama incurred $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone for the family’s June-July 2013 trip to Africa and their 2013-2014 Christmas vacation to Honolulu. The records came in response to a FOIA request.
According to the Department of Air Force documents:
- The flights to, from, and around Africa for the June-July 2013 trip totaled 35.5 hours at $228,288 an hour, which comes to a flight expense alone of $8,104,224
- The flights to and from Honolulu for the December 2013-January 2014 Christmas vacation totaled 36.9 hours at $210,877 an hour, which comes to a flight expense alone of $7,781,361.30. This is an increase of $3,695,006.10 from the flight expenses Judicial Watch reported the Obama’s incurred for their 2012-2013 Honolulu Christmas vacation.
Remember, these costs only relate to the flights alone, and do not account for other expensive line items, including Secret Service costs, transporting vehicles, etc.
From June 27, 2013, to July 3, 2013, Obama visited three countries in Africa: Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. According to reports in the Washington Post, the total cost to taxpayers for the Africa trip was approximately $100 million. The Hill newspaper reported that when pressed by reporters about the “massive cost,” the White House simply responded that the trip offers “great bang for the buck.”
Saying he was “eager to skip town” Obama also took his family to Honolulu on December 20, 2013, for a 17-day Christmas vacation.
In February, Judicial Watch reported that Obama incurred $1,164,268.60 in flight expenses alone for the August 2013 Obama family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. During that vacation, the Obama family spent eight days at the $7.6 million Martha’s Vineyard home of David Schulte, founder of the private equity firm Chilmark Partners.
And getting back to China, the Obama White House went out of its way to point out that this trip was “not political” and therefore no press would be allowed to accompany the First Lady. This was more about giving a few milquetoast speeches, visiting tourist sites and feeding the pandas, we were told. All the more reason to disclose the costs of the trip. But no dice.
The Wall Street Journal points out the absurdity: “You can see a video of First Lady Michelle Obama playing ping-pong in China, hear her talk about the importance of studying abroad and view a picture of her huddling with her daughters with the Great Wall Of China snaking into the distance. What you won’t see, however, is a disclosure of how much her week-long trip in China cost.”
Although the total costs are elusive, JW investigators have done phenomenal work digging out some hard numbers. There is no question that the costs to taxpayers for the Obama family’s unnecessary luxury vacation travel are beyond the pale. And the secrecy surrounding these costs shows that Barack Obama’s vows of transparency are rubbish.
Until next week…