On July 24, Rep. Keith Ellison went after Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Elections Commission for Spakovsky’s possible role in voter suppression efforts. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is conducting hearings regarding the 2004 elections.
Von Spakovsky is accused of involvement in the US Attorney scandal and may have had a hand in ending Justice Department inquiries into former Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer after her attempted disenfranchisement of Minnesota’s American Indian voters.
Ellison pulled no punches in questioning — and criticizing — von Spakovsky about his work at the Justice Department and FEC. TPM Muckraker provides this transcript of the hearing.
ELLISON: Now here’s something that happened on the May 7th Indiana election. A dozen nuns and another unknown number of students were turned away from the polls Tuesday in the first use of Indiana’s stringent voter ID law since it was upheld last week by the United State Supreme Court. Mr. von Spakovsky, you wanna stop nuns from voting?
VON SPAKOVSKY: [silence]
ELLISON: Why don’t you want nuns to vote, Mr. von Spakovsky?
VON SPAKOVSKY: Congressman Ellison, uh-
ELLISON: I’m just curious to know.
VON SPAKOVSKY: Those individuals, uh, were told, were- knew that they had to get an ID, they could have easily done so. They could have voted, uh, by absentee ballot- uh, nursing homes under the law are able to get-
ELLISON: . . . Mr. von Spakovsky, are you aware that a 98-year old nun was turned away from the polls by a-
VON SPAKOVSKY: They all had passports-
ELLISON: Excuse me.
VON SPAKOVSKY: They had expired passports which meant that they could have gotten-
ELLISON: Mr. von Spakovsky, do you know a 98-year old nun was turned away from the polls by a sister who’s in her order and who knew her, but had to turn her away because she didn’t have a government-issued ID? That’s okay with you?
VON SPAKOVSKY: Yes. . .
ELLISON: Were you part of the discussion that U.S. Attorney Heffelfinger of Minnesota should be fired because he expressed deep concern that a directive that could have discouraged Indians from voting in Minnesota?
VON SPAKOVSKY: I don’t recall being part of any such conversation.
ELLISON: Did you ever discuss U.S. Attorney Heffelfinger in regards to any voter fraud cases?
VON SPAKOVSKY: No.
ELLISON: What involvement did you have in the voting prosecution brought by Brad Schlozman in Missouri?
VON SPAKOVSKY: I had none, I was at the Federal Elections Commission. Why would I have anything to do with what the Department of Justice was doing when I wasn’t even working there?
ELLISON: Maybe because you have an obsessive fear that people might vote who you don’t want to, so you try to contact the U.S. Attorney’s office to try to stop people from voting.
VON SPAKOVSKY: That’s a fantasy that you’re making up. I had nothing to do with federal prosecutions going on at the Department of Justice when I was at the Federal Elections Commission. That’s ridiculous.
ELLISON: Well, I’m asking you, you’re on record now. And we’ll see if it matches up with the facts.
VON SPAKOVSKY: Are you accusing me of lying Congressman?
ELLISON: I’m asking you questions sir, haven’t you been here?
VON SPAKOVSKY: And I’m telling you that’s a ridiculous question.
ELLISON: And you put yourself on record, and we’ll check it out.
VON SPAKOVSKY: You go ahead and do that.
ELLISON: We will. You can plan on it.