Connect with us

Executive

Exclusive: House Oversight Committee Probing Biden Voter Mobilization Order

Published

on

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), Chairman, House Oversight Committee

The House Oversight Committee is probing a controversial Biden administration executive order tasking the federal government with mobilizing voting groups it says are underrepresented.

House Oversight wants to know:

In a letter obtained by RealClearPolitics, Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has requested that Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young produce a slew of documents and information concerning the development and implementation of Biden’s sweeping “Executive Order on Promoting Accessing to Voting” no later than May 28, and a staff-level briefing by May 20.

The demand by the chairman of the House Oversight Committee signals an escalation in Republican lawmakers’ efforts to combat an effort they say may be unlawful, if not unconstitutional.

The administration characterizes its efforts as a remedy to “discriminatory policies and other obstacles … disproportionally affect[ing]” black, non-English-speaking, handicapped, and other minority voters. EO 14019 calls on all federal agencies to develop and execute corrective plans to “promote voter registration and voter participation.”

It instructs officials government-wide to consider “soliciting and facilitating approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations … to provide voter registration services on agency premises.”

Advertisement

Seeing the order as potentially enabling “the executive branch to circumvent the legislative process,” Comer is asking Young to clarify the “constitutional or statutory authority the President relied on,” as well as all “White House and OMB documents and communications” pertaining to the drafting of it.

Violations of the Hatch and Antideficiency Acts

In past oversight letters, including ones delivered in June 2022 by then-ranking Republicans on various committees, including Comer, members have also raised concerns that officials could violate the Hatch Act prohibiting their engagement in political activities in carrying out the order.

Senate Republicans have also questioned whether the act violates the Antideficiency Act, which precludes federal agencies from using funds “for a purpose that Congress did not explicitly authorize” – namely “voter mobilization.”

“Overreach by the federal government often leads to confusion and inconsistencies,” Comer also stated. He cites a recent letter from Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson to Attorney General Merrick Garland to illustrate this issue.

The order mandates that relevant agencies seek to ensure “access to voter registration for eligible individuals in federal custody.”

Advertisement

To satisfy that charge, the Magnolia State official notes that the U.S. Marshals Service is modifying contracts and/or intergovernmental agreements with jails “to provide voter registration materials and facilitate voting by mail,” and likewise that the Justice Department is working to “facilitate voter registration and mail voting for individuals in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.”

He says these efforts create “numerous opportunities for ineligible prisoners to be registered to vote in Mississippi.” Illegal aliens, Secretary Watson warns, may be among those receiving information on how to register to vote.

Withholding information

The Biden administration issued EO 14019 in March 2021. Despite a raft of oversight requests from House Republicans of agencies within their respective committee jurisdictions, those agencies have largely withheld the strategic plans they were tasked with crafting and implementing, and information regarding the putatively non-partisan groups with which they have coordinated.

The White House has rebuffed RealClearInvestigations in its efforts to solicit details about an order that Republicans characterize as little more than a taxpayer-funded Democrat get-out-the-vote effort.

As RCI has previously reported, the Biden administration has sought to drive voter registration through agencies as diverse as the Departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development via job training centers, public housing authorities, and child nutrition programs. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued guidance calling for the agency to register voters at naturalization ceremonies.

Advertisement

The Department of Education has blessed the use of “federal work-study funds to pay students for “supporting broad-based get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration,” and other activities.

In January, over two dozen Pennsylvania legislators filed a federal lawsuit challenging the executive order. The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) – which has litigated with the Biden administration to pry loose documents concerning the order – submitted an amicus brief supportive of the suit, asserting that the agencies’ efforts have one thing in common: “They provide government welfare benefits and other services to groups of voters the vast majority of which have historically voted Democrat.”

The Wayback Machine is your friend

Republicans’ concerns over the order extend to the involvement of the third-party groups with which agencies were to consider coordinating. The order itself was built on a blueprint from progressive think-tank Democrats. In a since-deleted but still archived analysis, the outfit estimates that if fully implemented, the order could generate 3.5 million new or updated voter registrations annually – a significant figure given that recent presidential elections have been determined by thousands of votes across a few states.

Dems as well as the American Civil Liberties Union have reportedly worked to implement the directive. Documents obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project and released earlier this month show that at a July 2021 listening session convened by the Biden administration, left-leaning activist groups encouraged some of the practices federal agencies would ultimately implement to carry out the directive, for example in targeting prospective voters in prisons and at naturalization ceremonies.

“Every participant whose party affiliation or political donation history could be identified by the Oversight Project was identified as a Democrat except for one Green Party member,” the report noted.

Advertisement

While the participants suggested efforts to target constituencies including criminals, immigrants, low-income families including those in public housing, and Native Americans, the Oversight Project observed that “There is no corresponding evidence of efforts [to] increase voter access and education in likely Republican constituencies.”

House Oversight wants to know with whom the administration is dealing

As RCI has also recently reported, Democrats have made purportedly non-partisan voter registration targeting groups that vote disproportionately Democrat a linchpin of their plans to prevail in recent election cycles.

“If the Biden Administration wants to use taxpayer-funded buildings to allow ‘nonpartisan third-party organizations’ to engage in voter registration,” Comer writes, “then the American people deserve to know who these organizations are.”

The Oversight Committee’s pursuit of information regarding the order comes in the wake of the House Small Business Committee’s recent escalation of its own probe of the order.

It recently subpoenaed two members of the Small Business Administration who refused to sit for transcribed interviews regarding an unprecedented partnership the agency inked with the Michigan Department of State. Under the relevant memorandum of understanding, among other things, state officials may conduct in-person voter registration at administration small business outreach events.

Advertisement

Fox News reported that the Small Business Committee found that nearly all – “22 out of 25 such outreach events have taken place in counties with the highest population of Democratic National Committee target demographics.”

In March, a federal judge dismissed the Pennsylvania legislators’ case challenging the executive order on grounds of standing.

In late April, the legislators took their case to the Supreme Court, filing a petition for writ of certiorari and motioning for expedited consideration of their request in hopes the nation’s highest court will rule favorably on the matter of standing prior to the 2024 election.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Editor At Large at | Website | + posts

Benjamin Weingarten is Editor at Large at RealClearInvestigations, a Senior Contributor to The Federalist, columnist at Newsweek and The Epoch Times, and a Fellow of the Claremont Institute. He is author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020), and a 2019 recipient of TFAS’ Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship, under which he covered the Trump administration’s China policy. Ben has written for The American Mind, City Journal, The New York Post, and numerous other publications. He co-hosts the Edmund Burke Foundation’s “NatCon Squad” podcast. Ben has appeared on “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Ingraham Angle,” and “The Ben Shapiro Show,” among many other programs. He is founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media, a conservative media consulting company. Ben is a 2010 graduate of Columbia University.

Advertisement
Click to comment
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Trending

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x