Shock Claim: Is The RNC Trying To Help Eric Holder Go After Texas? (Probably Not)


PJ Media came out with a big story yesterday. It claimed that the RNC was working to undermine the Supreme Court decision that took some states out from under the thumb of the Voting Rights Act.

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Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department will seek to recapture Texas and return it to federal oversight for approval of all election law changes such as photo voter identification. Holder’s move comes after the Supreme Court in June freed Texas and other states from the requirement that all state election laws be approved in Washington, D.C. Holder’s move prompted outrage from Texas Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Governor Rick Perry.

The three should also be angry with the Republican National Committee. PJ Tatler has learned that staff at the RNC have been spending RNC donations plotting to do exactly what Eric Holder is seeking to do — return Texas and other states to federal oversight.

According to RNC sources frustrated with the race-based effort, paid RNC consultant Tom Hofeller (thofeller@rnchq.org) is spending RNC donations to develop race-based criteria to grab Texas and other states and place them back into federal receivership. The sources tell Tatler that nearly all of the members of the actual committee have been kept in the dark about this effort, and no mention is ever made in RNC fundraising efforts – for good reason, because GOP donors would be furious.

Hofeller, a long-time RNC consultant on redistricting, has devised ways to force several states back into federal receivership by amending the Voting Rights Act to grab states and force them to obtain Washington, D.C. approval. He is hopeful that Congressional Republicans will use his RNC-generated ideas to accomplish this goal.

So far, the Republicans in Congress have shown more sense than the Republicans paid by the RNC, and are cool to the idea of returning states to federal receivership.

According to congressional sources, Hofeller has also been misrepresenting the importance of the law struck down by the Supreme Court. Hofeller has told Hill sources the federal election oversight law is essential to elect Republicans, something most Republicans on the Hill no longer believe is true. Hofeller has spread this message while being paid by the RNC.

The RNC’s Raffi Williams sent out a strongly worded email to bloggers late last night denying this,

“A anonymous post in PJ media that is based entirely on anonymous sources makes the false allegation that the RNC and its redistricting consultant Dr Tom Hofeller are spending RNC donations to develop “race- based criteria” to “grab Texas and other states and place then back under federal receivership”. The story fails to note that a contributor of PJ Media, J. Christian Adams, was on the losing side of the effort to renew the Voting Rights Act in 2006.

Here are the facts:

1. There is no RNC effort what so ever to influence litigation or legislation dealing with the effects of the Shelby County decision.
2. There is no RNC efforts to create any new criteria to replace section 4 which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
3. No RNC staff or funding have used to for this purpose.
4. There is no RNC effort nor has there been any involvement in devising criteria that amends “the Voting Rights Act to grab states and force them to obtain Washington, D.C. approval.”
5. There is no RNC effort nor has there been any attempts to use Hofeller’s “RNC-generated ideas to accomplish this goal.”
6. On this matter there are NO “RNC generated ideas” — period!
7. Of the so -called Republicans in Congress that are “cool to this idea” PJ Media cannot name one (see number 6 — there is no plan to be cool to).

The RNC demands a full retraction and apology. Legal action against the source will be pursued.”

So, who’s right?

Well, to begin with, it’s hard to understand why the RNC would be trying to undermine this decision in the first place since the only meaningful impact of the Voting Rights Act is to allow Democrats in D.C. to harass Republican states that want to redistrict or put voter ID laws in place. Additionally, the chances of getting Republicans in the House to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory handed to them by the Supreme Court would have to be pretty close to zero.

So, this is an unlikely story that should have produced a high level of skepticism at PJM. Of course, it’s possible that it did. PJM claims to have multiple sources at the RNC and PJM implies members of Congress have been contacted by the RNC as well.

On the other hand, the RNC is responding to this story on the record, not anonymously, it’s issuing a flat denial and it’s challenging PJM to name a Republican in Congress who has been approached. That seems to not only be a fair request, but also one that the RNC would be unlikely to make unless it’s sure there is “no there, there.”

In other words, the ball is in PJM’s court at this point and if this is a legit story, PJM needs to offer up more proof — like for example, a congressman who was approached. On the other hand, if PJM was intentionally burned by an anonymous source, which seems entirely possible at this point, I’d love to see them publicly reveal that person’s name. Journalists have no ethical obligations to sources who intentionally deceive them (and this certainly couldn’t be some kind of innocent misunderstanding).

Neither PJM nor the RNC seems to be in the mood to back off; so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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