Opinion

CREW is a puppet of the Democratic Party

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Cleta Mitchell
President, Republican National Lawyers Association
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      Cleta Mitchell

      Cleta Mitchell is a Washington, D.C. campaign finance attorney who represents conservative organizations. She is the chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation and the president of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

On July 11, The Daily Caller published an article I wrote in support of photo voter ID laws. I wrote the article in my capacity as president of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization whose primary mission is to protect the integrity of American elections. Defending the electoral process from those who would undermine it shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it has somehow become one in recent years, with the Democratic Party seeming to yearn for the days before professional election administration, when ward leaders could manipulate elections.

Shortly after my article appeared, Melanie Sloan, the president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), responded. Sloan took an opposing view and made various cheap shots at those of us who believe that voter fraud does exist and that we should guard against it.

While it is perfectly appropriate for citizens to debate public issues, Sloan’s op-ed begs the question: Why is a supposedly non-partisan 501(c)(3) national watchdog group interjecting itself into what has become a partisan debate about state-level voter ID laws?

Something is wrong with this picture, and it’s not photo voter ID laws. It is the misuse of CREW’s 501(c)(3) charitable and tax exempt status to promote the agenda of the Democratic National Committee.

Sloan identifies me as a “partisan” allied with some unnamed “cohorts” who seek to “disenfranchise voters who may be less likely to vote Republican.” RNLA is indeed a partisan organization — and we are hardly “unnamed.” RNLA is very vocal in its support of voter ID laws and other election integrity issues.

Over the past several weeks, several states have enacted laws requiring photo identification for voting. In response, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Governors Association and several other arms, spokesmen and officials of the Democratic Party, including former President Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson, have mounted a high-profile campaign against these laws.

They have conveniently ignored the fact that Rhode Island is one the states that has recently enacted a voter ID law. Rhode Island’s legislature is 80% Democratic, and its voter ID law was sponsored by an African-American Democrat, State Senator Harold Metts. Metts offered the bill because, as he put it, “We have been like ostriches with our heads buried in the sand, oblivious to what is going on around us. Fraud has gone unchallenged and ignored, and it must be stopped.” Metts went on to say that, “As a minority citizen and a senior citizen, I would not support anything that I thought would present obstacles or limit protections.”

It is not a partisan issue to support photo voter ID laws. Former President Jimmy Carter, the co-chair of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, has urged lawmakers to support voter ID laws “that make it easy to vote but tough to cheat.” In the Supreme Court decision that upheld Indiana’s photo voter ID statute, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “not only is the risk of voter fraud real but … it could affect the outcome of a close election.”

Melanie Sloan and CREW have, yet again, weighed into a partisan debate, adding their voices to that of the national Democratic Party apparatus. RNLA is a political organization — and so is CREW, which should not continue to enjoy its 501(c)(3) tax status. Sloan is a Democratic operative and CREW is nothing more than a puppet of the DNC masquerading as a non-partisan organization. The IRS should take notice.

Cleta Mitchell is the President of the Republican National Lawyers Association.