Blog: “Bullies at the ballot box” (new cabinet nominee)

“Trump’s Labor Pick Has a History of Attacking Voting Rights”
The Nation, 2/16/2017

After the past few weeks, I have to wonder if there’s anyone in the Trump Administration actually vetting their Cabinet nominees. They’re not doing a great job.

Trump’s first pick for Labor Secretary withdrew his name amid a firestorm of criticism and allegations of misconduct. And Trump’s new pick, Alexander Acosta, has problems of his own.

During the Bush Administration, Mr. Acosta was the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. During that time, he made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons.

At the time, Republicans in Ohio were engaged in a scheme to restrict voting in predominately African American voting districts by sending in volunteers to challenge people’s eligibility to vote. One study called these tactics “bullies at the ballot box” measures, as they routinely result in voter intimidation and suppression rather than fraud prevention.

Even though the federal government was not a party to the case, Mr. Acosta sent a letter defending Ohio Republicans’ scheme. It was a highly irregular move that left many of his colleagues baffled. A deputy chief in the department at the time called it “cheerleading for the Republican defendants” and said “It was doubly outrageous because the allegation in the litigation was that these were overwhelmingly African-American voters that were on the challenge list.”

Mr. Acosta’s leadership was so bad that in 2008, the Office of the Inspector General issued a report that brought him to task. It found that he politicized the division and violated Department of Justice policies and federal law.

If I got a report that bad in the Army, I never would have made it to Captain. Mr. Acosta doesn’t belong anywhere near the federal government, let alone in charge of a department.

Mr. Acosta isn’t going to go away on his own. So we have to step up.

Make sure a voting rights opponent doesn’t wind up in charge of the Department of Labor. Reject Alexander Acosta >>