Judicial Watch Sues to Clean Up Voter Rolls
Coronavirus and the Killing of the U.S. Economy
Department of State/Justice Department Tells Appeals Court it Should Reject Clinton Effort to Avoid Testimony
Judicial Watch Sues to Force North Carolina to Clean Its Voter Rolls
As I said in my recent video update segment on the Coronavirus, you can’t cure or end the pandemic by killing our economy – pure and simple.
When it comes to the coronavirus, the best way to get people on their feet is to get them back to work. While the “giant” stimulus package will help many with immediate cash, the economic impact of the country’s being shut down could leave us facing 20-30 million unemployed, a very dangerous consequence of the panicked reactions by governors across the country.
I have been critical of the almost nationwide lockdown from the beginning. There’s got to be a way of moving forward while taking care of people’s health. Shutting down the country cannot be the solution, and as I have alluded to throughout the crisis, it will be a huge detriment to the long-term public health of our communities.
To date, there’s nothing in the White House or CDC guidelines that says shut down everything in your state. On the contrary, we’ve got to care for the sick and make sure our economy is able to function. Ultimately, we need to get America moving again, and not depend on the CDC/FDA timeline, which left to their own devices would only figure out the needed drugs months from now.
What’s more, with the FBI’s shutting down all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, there will be little transparency during this key part of our country’s history. We’ve also just learned from the State Department that they’ve shut down their FOIA operation indefinitely as well. Instituting the indefinite moratorium on FOIA processing, the FBI and State Department are delaying Judicial Watch’s investigations into the Bidens, Spygate and Hillary Clinton, to mention a few, making these agencies virtually unaccountable by any practical means. The Deep State, unsurprisingly, doesn’t consider following transparency law to be “essential” government business.
You can be sure that Judicial Watch is investigating and monitoring the responses of our government to the coronavirus threat. In the meantime, please be sure to call your state and federal elected officials to them know what you think about the shutdowns that are destroying our economies and suppressing our liberties.
Hillary Clinton’s desperate appeal to avoid testifying in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit is even too much for her defenders at the Department of State and the Justice Department, which represents the State Department in court. This week, State/Justice sided with us in opposing Clinton’s appeal for special privileges and singular treatment to avoid having to testify in person and under oath to our legal team.
Hillary Clinton. Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills then filed an emergency appeal.
This week, our lawyers at Judicial Watch and the State Department, through Justice Department lawyers, filed separate responses in opposition to Clinton’s and Mills’ Writ of Mandamus request to overturn that U.S. District Court order requiring their testimony under oath before Judicial Watch regarding Clinton’s emails and Benghazi attack records. At the same time, the government argued in its response that it did not engage in “bad faith” in failing to disclose the Clinton non-government email system to Judicial Watch and the court. The briefs were filed on April 3 with the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The filings come in the appeals court’s proceedings concerning our lawsuit seeking records concerning “talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)).
In our response, we argue that Clinton and Mills “must demonstrate that they have no other adequate means of relief,” which they failed to show. Also, Clinton and Mills do not demonstrate “that the District Court’s order was a judicial usurpation of power or a clear abuse of discretion, or that [Clinton and Mills] have a clear and indisputable right to a writ.” In fact, “the District Court reasonably concluded that Clinton’s previous explanations for using a personal email server are cursory, incomplete, and seemingly at odds with what discovery has yielded to date.”
We argue further that Clinton and Mills are trying to avoid their deposition testimony by relying on, “their status as former high-level government officials.” Clinton and Mills, “do not offer a single case from this Court or any other, holding that former high-level government officials should not be required to follow regular appellate channels to challenge a discovery order.” Particularly in Mills’ case, Judicial Watch notes that they, “identify no case in which a court entertained a mandamus petition to stop the deposition of even a sitting cabinet member’s chief of staff.” [Emphasis in original]
We also argue against Clinton’s claim that she held the server under “claim of right,” when it contained thousands of federal records. Judicial Watch states that unlike other Secretaries of State, like Henry Kissinger, Clinton did not obtain an opinion from State’s Legal Adviser on whether she could take the federal records prior to her departure from State. Clinton’s “claim of right” argument over her server would be like a bank robbery:
A bank robber who stuffs bills into a duffle bag during a robbery may own the bag, but has no “claim of right” to the stolen cash. Is Clinton claiming a legal right to the agency records stored on the server? If so, Petitioners [Clinton/Mills] offer no factual or legal support for such a claim. While the server may have been Clinton’s property, the agency records on the server plainly were not.
Although they repeatedly sought in earlier lower-court proceedings to shut down any further inquiry into Clinton emails, the State and Justice Departments also argued this week against Clinton and Mills’ appeal to overturn the order for their depositions:
The government did not seek and thus does not support the extraordinary relief of mandamus due to the unique circumstances of this case.
This is the rare situation in which discovery of a former Cabinet Secretary was not authorized for the impermissible purpose of probing internal government decision-making regarding official policy, but rather to focus on the impact on FOIA compliance of a former official’s unusual decision to use a private email server to systematically conduct large volumes of official business.
Our Judicial Watch lawyers went further:
It is not even clear that Clinton’s decision to use a “personal email server” and the subsequent routing of her emails out of the agency when she left office can fairly be characterized as “official action” … It was more likely a violation of law.
The agencies again defend their alleged misconduct despite a federal court finding that discovery can take place because of the strong evidence of their bad faith. The lower court rejected their efforts to end discovery and protect Clinton:
[T]here is still more to learn. Even though many important questions remain unanswered, the Justice Department inexplicably still takes the position that the Court should close discovery and rule on dispositive motions. The Court is especially troubled by this. To argue that the Court now has enough information to determine whether State conducted an adequate search is preposterous, especially when considering State’s deficient representations regarding the existence of additional Clinton emails. Instead, the Court will authorize a new round of discovery.
Your Judicial Watch famously uncovered in 2014 that the “talking points” that provided the basis for Susan Rice’s false statements were created by the Obama White House. This FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.
On March 2, 2020, Judge Lamberth granted Judicial Watch’s request to depose Clinton about her emails and Benghazi attack documents. The court also ordered the deposition of Mills and two other State Department officials. Additionally, the court granted Judicial Watch’s request to subpoena Google for relevant documents and records associated with Clinton’s emails during her tenure at the State Department.
In December 2018, Judge Lamberth first ordered discovery into whether Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server was intended to stymie FOIA; whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request. The court also authorized discovery into whether the Benghazi controversy motivated the cover-up of Clinton’s email. The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.” The State and Justice Departments continued to defend Clinton’s and the agency’s email conduct.
In his order allowing the testimony under oath of Clinton and others, Federal District Court Judge Lamberth noted:
Discovery up until this point has brought to light a noteworthy amount of relevant information, but Judicial Watch requests an additional round of discovery, and understandably so. With each passing round of discovery, the Court is left with more questions than answers.
With respect to Clinton, Judge Lamberth found that her prior testimony, mostly through written sworn answers, was not sufficient:
The Court has considered the numerous times in which Secretary Clinton said she could not recall or remember certain details in her prior interrogatory answers. In a deposition, it is more likely that plaintiff’s counsel could use documents and other testimony to attempt to refresh her recollection. And so, to avoid the unsatisfying and inefficient outcome of multiple rounds of fruitless interrogatories and move this almost six-year-old case closer to its conclusion, Judicial Watch will be permitted to clarify and further explore Secretary Clinton’s answers in person and immediately after she gives them. The Court agrees with Judicial Watch – it is time to hear directly from Secretary Clinton. [Emphasis added.]
The appellate court should quickly reject Clinton’s latest gambit to avoid testifying. We’ll be sure to keep you apprised as circumstances warrant.
After months of investigating and trying to bring to the attention of North Carolina officials their non-compliance with the law, your Judicial Watch finally had to file a lawsuit against North Carolina and two of its counties for failing to clean their voter rolls and denying the public its right to obtain information about voter registration list maintenance.
According to an analysis of voter registration data by our Judicial Watch investigators, many of North Carolina’s 100 counties have large numbers of ineligible voters on their rolls. We also allege in our lawsuit that the States’ own data shows that North Carolina has nearly one million inactive voters on its rolls (Judicial Watch v. North Carolina and North Carolina State Board of Elections, et al. (No. 3:20-cv- 211)).
Our lawsuit argues that North Carolina, Mecklenburg County and Guilford County failed to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their registration rolls as required by the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). The lawsuit also claims these jurisdictions violated the NVRA by failing to make available to Judicial Watch public records concerning efforts to comply with the law.
The NVRA provides for the removal of the names of registrants who have failed to respond to an address confirmation notice and then failed to vote in the next two general federal elections. Federal law makes these removals mandatory.
In June 2019, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released data showing that voter registration rates in a significant proportion of North Carolina’s 100 counties are close to, at or above 100% of their age-eligible citizenry – statistics considered by the courts to be a strong indication that a jurisdiction is not taking the steps required by law to remove ineligible registrants. Judicial Watch’s analysis also showed that at the time of the EAC report the entire State of North Carolina had a registration rate close to 100% of its age-eligible citizenry.
In our complaint, Judicial Watch lawyers also point out that North Carolina’s abnormally high number of inactive registrations shows that it is not removing these registrations after two general federal elections, as the NVRA requires. According to data the State certified to the EAC in 2019:
· About 17% of North Carolina’s registrations were inactive, which was the fifth worst (highest) of the 40 states for which data were available
· By way of comparison, the median state inactive rate was 9.6%
· In 19 North Carolina counties, 20% or more of the registrations were inactive, and in three counties 25% or more were inactive North Carolina’s inactive registrations remain high to this day
· As of March 2020, North Carolina’s own data shows it has nearly one million inactive registrations
· A large proportion of these registrations have shown no voting activity for more than five years – that is, since prior to November 2014
Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections, and we at Judicial Watch must insist that North Carolina follows federal law to clean up its voting rolls. We want cleaner elections, as the law requires, and we expect this lawsuit will cause North Carolina to take the simple steps necessary to clean from its rolls the names of voters who have moved away or died.
Your Judicial Watch is the national leader in enforcing the NVRA. In December 2019, we provided notice to 19 large counties in five states that it intended to sue unless they take steps to comply with the NVRA by removing ineligible registrations from their rolls. In addition to North Carolina, we sent letters to counties in California, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.
In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from our Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled an NVRA lawsuit with us and last year began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Kentucky also began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another one of our Judicial Watch lawsuits.
Despite our track record of successful litigation to bring counties and states into compliance with the NVRA, voter registration lists across the country remain significantly out of date. In a 2019 study, our Judicial Watch investigators found 378 counties nationwide that had more voter registrations than citizens old enough to vote, i.e., counties where registration rates exceed 100%.
These 378 counties combined had about 2.5 million registrations over the 100%-registered mark. This is a drop of about one million from our previous analysis of voter registration data in 2017.
We are most fortunate to have Attorney Robert Popper as our director of the Judicial Watch Election Integrity initiative. We are also being assisted by Mark A. Jones of Bell, Davis & Pitt in Charlotte, North Carolina; and by H. Christopher Coates of the Law Office of H. Christopher Coates.
This is the first of what could be several additional lawsuits against various states over this key issue of clean election rolls, so stay tuned for more.
Christians around the world are celebrating the resurrection of the Christ this week. There are no more powerful symbols of hope than the cross and the empty tomb. From me and mine, I wish you and yours all the Joy of Easter! Passover happily coincides with Easter this year – so, Happy Passover, as well! Ironically, even though it will be a struggle this year to celebrate these glorious holidays as we normally would, I expect the absence of some traditions will make our hearts grower fonder for – and to more deeply consider – these special days!
Until next week …