Four months to go before Election Day and Judicial Watch's battle for election integrity continues in full force.
July 17, 2012, we filed an amicus curiae brief with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in support of HB 934, a voter identification measure signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on
March 14, 2012. The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against the law on behalf of various individuals, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and allied groups.
We jointly filed this brief with Pennsylvania Attorney L. Theodore Hopp Jr. on behalf of Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalf and members of the
Pennsylvania legislature who supported the bill. Rep. Metcalf was the author and driving force behind the bill. Nearly half of the members who supported the bill are signed on to the Judicial Watch amicus.
You would think, given the response by the ACLU and NAACP, that the
Pennsylvania law is a monstrous invasion of voting rights. But this claim is nothing more than political posturing and it has no basis in reality. Pennsylvania House Bill 934 is a simple, commonsense provision that maintains the integrity of every vote.
The law requires voters to produce a
Pennsylvania driver's license or another government-issued photo ID, such as a
U.S. passport, military ID, or county/municipal employee ID when voting. If a prospective voter does not have a valid ID, the law requires the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide one at no cost.
(In other words, the law asks voters to do no more than is required to board an airplane, use a credit card or open a Netflix account.)
Even if a voter shows up at the polling station without a valid ID, the law still protects their right to vote by allowing the individual without identification to cast a "provisional" ballot that will be counted if the identity of the voter can be indisputably ascertained within six business days of the election.
Here's a brief squib from Judicial Watch's amicus curiae brief:
In passing HB 934, the legislature did no more than exercise its sound discretion and create a commonsense regulatory scheme to secure free and equal elections. The legislature undoubtedly had such authority and used it accordingly.
In addition, because the legislature has the discretion to enact laws regulating elections, the courts must not overturn the policy choices of the legislative branch unless the legislature acts with gross abuse…In using its authority [the legislature] has not caused anyone to be disenfranchised, it has maintained and promoted free and equal elections, and it has not expanded upon the qualifications set forth in the Pennsylvania Constitution.
A trial over the legal challenge to the voter ID law is scheduled to begin on
July 25, 2012.
"Voter photo identification is a commonsense safeguard that will ensure that legitimately cast votes are not canceled out by the forces of corruption," said Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe in a statement to the press. "Implementation of HB 934 will restore integrity to
Pennsylvania's election process, because one fraudulently cast vote is one too many."
As you may recall, Judicial Watch has been involved in supporting the Pennsylvania Voter ID law for some time. JW Attorney Michael Bekesha testified on
March 21, 2011, before the State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, that the bill was a good way for
Pennsylvania "to ensure fair elections for its citizens." Bekesha also testified that the bill followed the U.S. Supreme Court's specifications.
Judicial Watch also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on
June 1, 2012, against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain records detailing the agency's communications with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was reportedly a driving force behind the legal challenge to HB 934.
This is no fishing expedition. We know the Obama DOJ is partnering with leftist groups. Judicial Watch previously obtained documents from the Obama DOJ showing that the agency worked with the ACLU to mount their respective legal challenges to SB 1070,
Arizona's illegal immigration enforcement law recently upheld, in part, by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Overall, the Obama DOJ has been horribly compromised by its partnerships with radical and corrupt organizations, from Project Vote to La Raza. The DOJ has sadly become not much more than a legal battering ram for seemingly every major leftist special interest group in the country. And this influence is most definitely having an impact, most notably on the issue of election integrity.
(Look no further than the Obama administration lawsuit filed against
Florida over its efforts to take to steps to try to remove non-citizen voters from the rolls and the legal actions against
South Carolina over their voter ID laws. Now it's quite possible that
Pennsylvania can be added to this list.)
With its 2012 Election Integrity Project, Judicial Watch intends to make certain states take action to clean up voter registration lists in accordance with the law. On
June 11, 2012, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit in partnership with True the Vote against election officials in the State of
Indiana alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Specifically the lawsuit maintains that
Indiana election officials have failed to maintain clean voter registration lists and make records related to voter registration list maintenance available as required by Section 8 of the NVRA.
June 26, 2012, Judicial Watch also filed a Motion for Intervention with its client True the Vote to defend the State of
Florida's efforts to clean up voter registration lists against an Obama DOJ lawsuit.
Judicial Watch neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office. We are adamant that the election process must be clean and fair. The Left is now blaming us for recent moves by states to clean up their rolls to protect election integrity. We are happy to accept "blame" for clean elections, removing dead people from the rolls, and preventing corrupt politicians from stealing elections! More investigations and lawsuits are planned, so stay tuned.
Michelle Obama's Family Ski Trip to
Cost Taxpayers at Least $83,000
The economy has stalled. The unemployment rate remains high. American taxpayers are stretched to the limit. So what do you do if you're the First Family? Take another taxpayer-funded vacation!
First there was the August 2010 vacation to
Spain. JW uncovered documents from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing the costs associated with this trip. According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the records indicate a total combined cost of at least $467,585.
And then there was
South Africa and
Botswana. JW uncovered yet more records detailing the costs of the
June 21-27, 2011, trip taken by Michelle Obama, her family and her staff. Judicial Watch received mission expense records and passenger manifests for the
Africa trip that described costs of $424,142 for the flight and crew alone. (Other expenses, such as off-flight food, transportation, security, etc. were not included.)
And now we have
Colorado, to add to the list.
On Wednesday, we released records from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing Mrs. Obama's February 2012 President's Day weekend ski vacation to Aspen with her two daughters.
JW got the records pursuant to a
May 31, 2012, lawsuit against both government agencies. (We asked for them first in February 2012.) Here are a few highlights:
The total cost for the
Aspen ski vacation was $83,182.99.
The bill for the U.S. Secret Service, including accommodations at the Fasching Haus deluxe condominium and the
Aspen, was $48,950.38.
The cost for the flight, per official Department of Defense published hourly rates, was $22,583.70. Food and miscellaneous on-flight items cost $235.44. The cost for rental cars totaled $6,442.23.
Key details, including flight records for the Secret Service detail and the names of individuals who accompanied Mrs. Obama on the vacation, were redacted from the documents with the exception of two staffers. One was Meredith Koop, her personal assistant and style advisor, the other was her scheduler Kristen Jarvis.
(By the way, if you're interested to know exactly what a "style advisor" does, here's how one unnamed White House rep characterized the job, in a New York Magazine article entitled, "White House Confirms Mrs. Obama's Assistant Meredith Koop is Dressing Her": "Ms. Koop's responsibilities include advising the first lady on her wardrobe and acting on her behalf in arranging for purchases…")
And what was the purpose of the Obama family trip? Nothing official, per the Aspen Daily News on
February 18, 2012:
First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in
Aspen on Friday afternoon and is here with her daughters for a ski vacation.
Few details about her trip were available. Sources said she is staying at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. She is reportedly skiing at Buttermilk today, where the Crowns, of
Chicago, own a home on the Tiehack side.
Several people have known about the "low-key" vacation, with the Secret Service in town for the past few days scoping out places for the family to relax and enjoy what the resort has to offer.
FoxNews.com, by the way, has noted that the
Aspen trip was the 16th vacation in three years taken by the Obama family. So, doing the math, that's an average of almost one vacation every two months.
No wonder we had to file a lawsuit in federal court and wait six months to get basic information on this trip. The costs of the Obama family ski weekend are staggering. These high-priced luxury vacations, and the lack of transparency about them, are beginning to seem like an abuse of office.
Tom Fitton – President