Opposition agains von Spakovsky’s is firming

Career Department of Justice (DoJ) professionals continue to object to the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission, this time pointing out contradictions they see in his testimony before the Senate Rules Committee last week.

A group of seven former attorneys and one political geographer in DoJ’s voting section of the civil rights division Monday sent a second letter to Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), the ranking member of the panel, asking them to sink von Spakovsky’s nomination.

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The former DoJ officials said von Spakovsky’s testimony to the panel conflicts with their own recollections and is factually wrong in some cases. For instance, the officials dispute von Spakovsky’s portrayal of himself as a “middle manager” who provided legal advice and recommendations to his superiors and then delivered those decisions to the voting section staff.

“From the time he assumed the role of counsel to the assistant attorney general in early 2003 until he left in December 2005, Mr. von Spakovsky spent virtually all of his time on voting matters and assumed the role of de facto voting section chief, replacing the career section chief in most of his statutory responsibilities and traditional duties managing the section,” they wrote.

In this role, the former officials wrote, von Spakovsky assumed a position on an advisory board that was reserved explicitly for the chief of the voting section or the chief’s designee, even though the section chief never designated him for the post.

“During our combined tenure at the voting section, we have never seen a political appointee exercise this level of control over the day to day operations of the voting section,” they wrote.

The former officials oppose his nomination out of concern that von Spakovsky improperly politicized the voting section through narrow interpretations of the Help America Vote Act, refocusing the department’s National Voter Registration Act’s enforcement activities and refusing to allow investigations under the Voting Rights Act based on discrimination in black and Native American communities.

Former officials of the DoJ’s voting section signing the letter include: Joseph Rich, who served as chief; his deputy, Robert Kengle; senior trial attorneys Stephen B. Pershing, Jon Greenbaum, David Becker and Bruce Adelson; and Toby Moore, a political geographer.

Von Spakovsky has said the former officials are writing the letters to advance their own partisan agenda, a charge they deny.