Thursday, May 31, 2007
Two New Stories about the Republican Agenda
Here is the first story:
The second story comes from the front page of the Los Angeles Times:
The League of Women Voters reports that: Senator Mitch McConnell (R KY) has offered an amendment to the immigration bill pending in the Senate that would require every voter in the 2008 election to provide government-issued, current and valid photo identification before being allowed to vote at a polling place. This amendment would disenfranchise large numbers of legal voters and create administrative problems at the polls in the next federal election.
Minnesota case fits pattern in U.S. attorneys flap
A prosecutor apparently targeted for firing had supported Native American voters' rights.
By Tom Hamburger, Times Staff WriterMay 31, 2007
WASHINGTON — For more than 15 years, clean-cut, square-jawed Tom Heffelfinger was the embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor. Named U.S. attorney for Minnesota in 1991, he won a series of high-profile white-collar crime and gun and explosives cases. By the time Heffelfinger resigned last year, his office had collected a string of awards and commendations from the Justice epartment.
So it came as a surprise — and something of a mystery — when he turned up on a list of U.S. attorneys who had been targeted for firing.
Part of the reason, government documents and other evidence suggest, is that he tried to protect voting rights for Native Americans.
At a time when GOP activists wanted U.S. attorneys to concentrate on pursuing voter fraud cases, Heffelfinger's office was expressing deep concern about the effect of a state directive that could have the effect of discouraging Indians in Minnesota from casting ballots.
Citing requirements in a new state election law, Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer directed that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by Native Americans living off reservations. Heffelfinger and his staff feared that the ruling could result in discrimination against Indian voters. Many do not have driver's licenses or forms of identification other than the tribes' photo IDs.
Kiffmeyer said she was only following the law.
The issue was politically sensitive because the Indian vote can be pivotal in close elections in Minnesota. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has one of the largest urban Native American populations in the United States. Its members turn out in relatively large numbers and are predominantly Democratic.
Heffelfinger resigned last year for personal reasons and says he had no idea he was being targeted for possible firing. But his stance fits a pattern that has emerged in the cases of several U.S. attorneys fired last year in states where Republicans wanted more vigorous efforts to legally challenge questionable voters.
There are many other stories that carry the same implication: some Republicans set a high priority on preventing or discouraging certain classes of people from voting. They say that these are people who have committed felonies (Florida) or people who are not citizens (immigrants; Senator McConnell) or people otherwise not qualified to vote. Is it surprising to learn that the majority of people in these classes tend to vote for Democrats?