Last week, Hans von Spakovsky, George W. Bush's controversial nominee to the Federal Election Commission, sat before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and answered charges from former colleagues that, while at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, he helped pass voter laws that suppressed the minority vote, an act that the former colleagues suspected was driven by a partisan agenda.
Tuesday, the committee received another letter written by the former colleagues. They reiterated their previous concerns, only this time they claimed that von Spakovsky had misled the committee while testifying under oath.
In the letter, von Spakovsky's former colleagues claim that while he tried to "paint a picture" of himself as a "middle manager" in the Civil Rights Division, he was actually more influential than that. "During our combined tenure at the Voting Section," they write, "we have never seen a political appointee exercise this level of control over the day to day operations of the Voting Section."
During his confirmation hearing, von Spakovsky testified that he had sought the input of career staffers at the Justice Department before sending a letter in April 2005 advising that the state of Arizona need not provide provisional ballots to voters without photo identification. But his former colleagues have a different recollection. They say that von Spakovsky not only failed to seek the advice of career staffers but also did not tell his section chief or Alex Acosta, the assistant attorney general, about his recommendation.
"Our decisions sometimes disappointed Democrats and sometimes disappointed Republicans but always honored our belief that it is the voters who are protected by the statutes the section enforces, not the political parties," von Spakovsky's critics write. "We oppose Mr. von Spakovsky's nomination because he made it impossible for us to carry out that essential mission in our service at the Voting Section."
Von Spakovsky has been given until today to respond to these charges.