Thursday, July 29, 2021

It's About Suppression, Con't

Georgia Republicans in the state legislature gave themselves the power to throw out and replace at will any and all county election officials, and the first order of business is to get rid of every county board where Democrats won and appoint a single Republican official to oversee the entire county election process, starting with Atlanta and Fulton County.

Georgia Republicans have taken the first step on their freshly blazed path toward a possible takeover of Fulton County’s elections.

A letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows two dozen state senators support a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron. The letter was written Tuesday, the very same day a front-page AJC story examined the prospect of a takeover of elections in Fulton, home to a tenth of all Georgians.

“We’re asking them to simply correct a record they say is easily corrected. Is it or isn’t it? The people of Georgia deserve answers,” wrote Republican Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, who signed the letter.

As written into Senate Bill 202, the State Election Board can replace a county’s election board following a performance review/audit/investigation. Then, a temporary superintendent would enjoy full managerial authority of how the county counts votes and staffs polling places.

Barron was not available for comment due to a scheduling conflict, according to a county spokesman.

A performance review begins upon request of at least two state representatives and two state senators from the county.

With more than enough senators, the letter addresses the representatives needed: “We have every reason to believe that the requisite number of Fulton’s House delegation will respond likewise, thereby triggering the performance review.”

Two representatives confirmed to the AJC on Wednesday that they would join the effort.

“I support and will be calling for a performance review of the Fulton County Elections Board Director because of repeated and systemic elections process failures,” House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, a Milton Republican, wrote in an email. “This includes an investigation and evaluation of his technical competency and compliance with state law and regulation.”

From Rep. Chuck Martin, a Republican representing the Alpharetta area: “I want to see and will be requesting a full process review of the Fulton County Elections Operations because all the people of Fulton County and the State of Georgia deserve answers ... Let’s work together, get this review moving and get to the truth; the people deserve the truth.”

Rep. David Dreyer, an Atlanta Democrat and head of the Fulton House delegation, said elections are massive logistical undertakings.

“If I were to audit Chick-fil-A and Home Depot … I’d find things that aren’t done perfectly,” he said.

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said a takeover is really a GOP attempt to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats and retain the governorship in 2022, with eyes toward 2024.

“It’s been rhetoric until this point. This letter is the first official step in the process,” he said.

Pitts said he intends to form a plan with his staff, including the county attorney, Thursday.
As I said earlier, this is an obvious effort by Georgia Republicans to accuse county election officials in blue (and Black, especially) counties of straight up fraud, remove them for "performance" reasons, and replace them with Republicans who will suppress the Black vote, creating systemic obstacles to Black voters.

I'm hoping that the Justice Department's Voting Rights section comes in like a hurricane to put a stop to this and does way more than just to send sternly-worded letters.

The Justice Department is putting states on notice about their obligations under federal law as GOP-led efforts to conduct reviews of the 2020 election intensify.

Federal authorities on Wednesday issued a pair of new guidance documents to states and voters to remind them of their responsibilities — and their rights.

The moves are part of the Biden administration's push to demonstrate it is on guard amid new voting restrictions proposed and enacted by Republican-led states across the nation — and as Democratic-led federal voting legislation has stalled in Congress.

"We are keeping a close eye on what's going on around the country," said a Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to brief reporters. "If they're going to conduct these so-called audits, they have to comply with federal law."
And while putting an end to Big Lie audits are important, fixing this is just as important, even more so.

Mo Brooks, Mo Problems

If House Republican Mo Brooks is really this stupid, then he deserves what's coming to him both from a legal standpoint and a karmic standpoint after seemingly admitting to Slate's Jim Newell that he was wearing body armor at the Trump insurrection rally on January 6th.

Back in December, Brooks was the first House Republican to say ahead of the congressional Electoral College certification that he would object to certain states’ electors. On the day of the certification, Jan. 6, he then gave a fiery speech at President Donald Trump’s rally at the Ellipse where he told the assembled crowd that “today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!” Months later, he still argues that Trump would have won the election if only “lawful votes” were counted.

Brooks’ support of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election successfully earned him the former president’s endorsement in the 2022 Alabama Senate race. But it’s also earned him legal issues. California Rep. Eric Swalwell sued Brooks and others earlier this year for fomenting the Jan. 6 riot. The Justice Department this week refused Brooks’ request to shield him from the lawsuit, in part because he’d basically admitted he was thinking about winning elections—not doing his job—when he started his rally chant. And though Brooks is claiming to dismiss the select committee hearings as a political stunt, the committee could seek to bring him in for questioning about what he knew, or didn’t know, ahead of the riot.

When I asked him whether he could be subpoenaed, he said, “I have no clue.”

Brooks, like Republican leaders who tried to counterprogram the hearing with a press conference yesterday, thinks a proper investigation would look at why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office wasn’t “doing a better job with respect to the Capitol Police and their level of preparation.”

Then, to prove his point about preparation, he revealed a new detail to me: that because of a tip he’d received about potential violence, he’d been wearing body armor at the very same Ellipse speech in which he encouraged rally attendees to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”

“I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days,” he said. “And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.

“That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,” he told me with a grin. “To cover up the body armor.”

He didn’t say who warned him, or what the “risk” was that he’d been warned about. There were probably a “half-dozen different motivations that affected people in varying degrees” to engage in insurrection. He named, for example, “financial losses suffered because of the government’s reaction to COVID-19,” “the belief that there was significant voter fraud and election theft activity,” or “a great love and respect for President Trump.”

“It might be,” too, he added, “that some of them were just militant anarchists and saw this as an opportunity to infiltrate an otherwise peaceful protest and turn it into a riot.”

In Brooks’ affidavit asking the Justice Department to shield him from liability, his lawyers emphasize the parts of his speech where he encouraged peaceful protest, not physical violence. “Once again, Brooks makes no call for a physical attack on the Capitol,” a typical footnote reads. “To the contrary, Brooks calls on Ellipse Speech attendees to do one thing: ‘utter words’!” The affidavit argues that the “taking down names and kicking ass!” remark was really about taking the names of Republicans who wouldn’t support Trump’s Electoral College objections, and punishing them in future elections.

But if he was so sure the mob would understand the peaceful intent of his words, why’d he need the Kevlar
Million-dollar question, isn't it?
Now, I may be just a simple country desktop admin, but even I would expect that Nancy Pelosi' Select House Committee on January 6th might want to ask Rep. Brooks about his tips and his decision to wear body armor that day, warnings that were certainly not made widespread enough among his congressional colleagues to convince other House members or Senate members, the rank and file, to do the same.

Why would Rep. Brooks be wearing body armor if there were simply "tourists" at the rally?

I'd like to see him testify under oath in public about that.

I'd very much like to see that happen, in fact.
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