When he was running for Attorney General, JB Van Hollen made a fake lament about “frivolous” lawsuits a major part of his stump speech. After all of that grandstanding who could forget him then filing his own frivolous lawsuit because he didn’t like a hard hitting ad that was run against him? Later, after he won a very close election, he abandoned the suit and even had to pay for the other side’s legal bills. If it wasn’t clear at the beginning that the suit was frivolous, it certainly was at the conclusion of the matter.
It is within this context and pattern of behavior that we now find J.B. Van Hollen filing what is yet another partisan politically motivated lawsuit. What makes this one so much worse is that he is doing it with taxpayer money while at the same time threatening many of those same taxpayer’s right to vote. This latest suit is against the state’s own Government Accountability Board (GAB), so Van Hollen has taxpayers paying on both ends of this one.
The Republican AG’s action follows complaining by his own party over a GAB decision not to retroactively cross-check voter registration as far back as January 1, 2006 against Department of Transportation records. At the time, municipal clerks testified that taking such action would compromise efforts to run fair and clean elections this November and would even prevent absentee ballots being sent overseas to Wisconsin soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Van Hollen’s lawsuit calls for voters who don’t match to be taken from the registered voter lists. This would allow many people to be dropped from the voter rolls and forced into casting a provisional ballot simply because of clerical errors or the omission of things like a middle initial. Recently, the GAB announced that even four of the six judges on their own board failed a complete match against the voter data. Why would we want to make voting more difficult for so many people simply based on clerical errors?
J.B. Van Hollen is a co-chair for John McCain’s presidential campaign. Suppressing the votes of the people that could be most affected by his suit could be advantageous for that presidential campaign. It seems strange that people using the theme “Country First” are apparently willing to put politics and party first, even above our most basic right. Van Hollen clearly has a conflict of interest here and should totally recuse himself from lawsuits regarding this election. J.B. Van Hollen’s misuse of the Attorney General’s office to serve his Republican Party masters should frighten every Wisconsinite regardless of party or ideology. We have seen enough of this with the Bush Administration’s Justice Department and we don’t need or want it in Wisconsin.
Earlier this week we started reading about organized Republican efforts to suppress the votes of people having hard times in Michigan. Now we are at the center of attention because J.B. Van Hollen has decided to trade in any ounce of credibility that he may have had left to help his party suppress votes here. Apparently he is willing to settle for a legacy of being Wisconsin’s Katherine Harris.
UPDATE: J.B. Van Hollen did an interview about his lawsuit with Wisconsin Eye which was recorded yesterday but released today. In it he preemptively says that he wouldn’t be surprised if people accused him of filing this lawsuit because of his party affiliation. The AG “doth protest too much methinks,” to quote a famous phrase.
He also comments that, “I think people will realize if there's one thing we haven't done since I've been attorney general is do things for partisan or political reasons.” Yeah, except hiring and promoting strict partisans while chasing out and demoting law enforcement professionals that were hired by your Democratic predecessors.
There is so much more that is blog worthy in J.B.’s interview, but it will have to wait for now.