The Law and Order President’s Voter Fraud Commission May Have Broken the Law

Donald Trump was elected, in part, on a "law and order" platform. His voter fraud commission didn't get that memo, apparently.

For years Republicans called Obama “lawless.” I lost count after about the third or fourth month of his eight year term of how many times he got called either “King Obama,” or “magisterial,” or “lawless,” or “way too fucking black to be in charge” by Republicans. Okay, so one of those might be hyperbole, I admit.

…because we all know that anti-intellectual Republicans would never use the word “magisterial.”

But what if I told you — and really, brace yourself for this complete shocker of an idea — that the guy they just elected may have put together a commission on voter fraud that is actually, truly, acting in a lawless manner? Because that’s exactly what some experts in the field of federal election law told The Hill recently. As it turns out, in 1980 the federal government passed a law that Trump’s commission on ways to commit voter suppression fraud might have broken.

…failure to submit the request to states through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) violates a 1980 law known as the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). They also say the failure could be significant, since states could argue it means they are under no obligation to respond. (source)

Whoopsie! As it turns out, Trump can’t just wave his diminutive hand and order up whatever the fuck he wants whenever the fuck he wants it. Strange! You’d think the president of the party that professes a sexual love and adoration for law and order would know about, you know, not breaking the law. You know who never ordered ridiculously self-evidently illegal shit to be done by his administration? Barack Obama, that’s who.

Sure, they tried to tell us he ordered the IRS to attack conservative groups, but they never found that pesky shit known as “evidence.” But here’s Little Lord Trumpleroy and his goons Mike Pence and Kris Kobach trying to put a mafia-style demand on states to hand over private voter information without even following the lawful procedures for making such a request. And that’s saying nothing of whether the request itself breaks any federal or state laws, which more than a handful of the states who have already denied the request said it did.

I know it sounds crazy, but it seems like the Constitutional scholar and accomplished, Harvard trained lawyer might have known more about the laws of the country than, say, a Russian piss whore loving D-list reality-TV attention whore. Go figure!

Another tasty bit of schadenfreude is that Trump’s commission is running afoul of the states and the Republican Party has for the last couple of decades really tried to embrace the “States Rights” mantra. That is of course unless you’re a southern, white senator. Then of course you’ll still believe the feds have a right to tell you what you can smoke, and to force rape victims to have the babies of the men who rape them. But hey, what’s a little hypocrisy and galling ideological inconsistency among friends, eh?

A number of states have reacted to the requests with anger, arguing they represent a severe overreach by the federal government. Forty-four states led by Republican and Democratic governments, as well as the District of Columbia, are already resisting turning over information, according to multiple news outlets. (source)

In the interest of fairness, Trump has pushed back on the idea that his commission broke the law with its sweeping request for private citizens’ data. Of course, in typical B-Team form, the reasoning makes absolutely zero sense. The fact that it’s a pedantic, semantics based defense should surprise no one as well.

… the White House in an email argued that the election commission is exempt from the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires federal agencies to take specific steps before making requests for public information. The reason is simple, according to a spokesman: The commission is not an agency. (source)

The people interviewed by The Hill pretty roundly rejected this line of defense.

Experts interviewed by The Hill said they believed that the commission did fall under the Paperwork Reduction Act, a 1980 law that requires federal agencies to seek public input, including through a comment period, before making a request for information. A 1995 amendment extended OIRA’s authority to include not only requests for information for the government, but also requests for information to the public. (source)

The law makes a lot of sense. If you’re going to ask for private information from the public, the public should have a say in whether their government can or should ask for the information. It’s also up to the public, ultimately, to decide whether any information will be provided. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans cared about that whole “of the people, by the people, and for the people thing.”

No one should be all that surprised, I guess, by all of this. It’s the same kind of hubris and “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude that got Trump into hot water with his Muslim ban. He and his administration seem to be laboring under the guise that presidents really don’t have to answer to anyone. Even the most basically educated third grader knows that at its core, the presidency serves the people, and the people have, in the last 241 years, written some rules every now and again that even the president must follow.

After eight years of calling Obama a lawless and imperious leader, the silence from the right is deafening now that their Orange Savior is doing what they only accused of That Horrible Black Guy of.

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