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An organization that trained poll watchers and sent them into Texas neighborhood voting stations for the November mid-term elections is fighting back against a lawsuit filed by Democrat that was coordinated with an ethics complaint submitted by an organization linked to George Soros.
Officials with Liberty Institute today confirmed officials with King Street Patriots, a group of concerned Houston citizens, not only responded to the complaint filed by the Democrats, but they also filed a counterclaim against the political party.
WND reported at the time of the election that the citizens group was named in lawsuit by the Texas Democratic Party and also was named in a “coordinated” ethics complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice, which gets funding from the Soros-link Open Society Institute, said Liberty Institute.
The non-profit KSP is “made up of citizen volunteers dedicated to election integrity,” but were targeted in the Democratic Party lawsuit “that falsely claims the group broke state prohibitions against corporate campaign contributions and that it should have to register as a political organization and even reveal donor records,” the Institute revealed.
The Patriots now are asking that a judge rule some parts of the Texas Election Code that “run afoul” of the First Amendment unconstitutional, and dismiss the Democratic Party complaint with orders for the party to pay attorney fees.
“By using state law to try to silence citizens’ political speech, the Texas Democratic Party has brought a political slapp (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit that has nothing to do with the rule of law and everything to do with political retribution,” said KSP lead constitutional counsel James Bopp Jr., of the James Madison Center for Free Speech.
“Our clients simply will not be intimidated by such despicable tactics. The only allegation against them is that they exercised their rights under the First Amendment, and we expect the Texas courts to vindicate those rights,” he said.
Although King Street Patriots is non-partisan, the group dedicated to keeping elections fair and free drew the ire of the Texas Democratic Party when members turned over to authorities questionable voter registrations in Harris County.
“It is outrageous that a group of American citizens who simply volunteered to get involved in the political process are forced into court by the Texas Democratic Party,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and chief counsel of Liberty Institute, also representing KSP. “Using a political party to sue and attack citizens, and to try to reduce the Constitutional rights of all Americans, is a disgrace.”
The offices of the Texas Democratic Party closed early today for staff “training,” and officials could not be reached.
“Counter-plaintiffs are a group of concerned residents from the Houston area who simply decided to get involved in the political process,” the court filing explains. “They exercised their First Amendment freedoms reasonably expecting that doing so would not lead to the threat of excessive fines and even criminal punishment. They now pray this court to vindicate their rights by declaring several provisions of the Texas Election Code … as contrary to the Constitution of the United States.”
WND reported just before the election when the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it would investigate Democrat complaints of “intimidation” by “white middle class” poll observers in minority precincts in Harris County. They were accused of “hovering” around voters.
That followed by only months a decision at the highest levels of the DOJ that the charges in a case against members of the New Black Panther party, caught on video swinging a baton in front of a Philadelphia polling station in 2008, mostly would be dropped.
The situation in Houston erupted after workers with a volunteer organization called True the Vote investigated the work of a Houston Votes group and found that of the 25,000 voter registrations submitted, only 7,193 apparently were actually valid.
A video reveals Houston Votes project director Sean Caddle, who reportedly worked with Service Employees International Union, admitting that there could have been mistakes and “fraud” in signing up voters, including the case of a woman who was signed up to vote six times in a single day.
Spokesman Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute told WND that the attack on the King Street Patriots appeared at the time to be an attempt to rid the polling stations of outside observers who already have written up a long list of concerns about election judges telling people out how vote, shadowing voters as they cast their votes, and even “voting for people who did not know for whom they wanted to vote.”
“These lawsuits are exactly the kind of abusive disrespect for citizens that got our political leaders into trouble,” said Catherine Engelbrecht, chief of the King Street Patriots. “We will not be intimidated by partisan attacks, by the Democratic party, or by anyone else.”
“These attacks are clearly an attempt to bully and silence a group of volunteer citizens who are just trying to keep the election process honest,” said Shackelford.”This is pure desperation by a Democratic Party everyone knows is not doing so well.”
His office has seen complaints that poll watchers are being threatened, intimidated and abused, the report from Liberty Institute confirmed.
The complaint over her actions was being forwarded to county election officials, Shackelford told WND:
Jackson Lee declined to respond to WND’s request for comment, and a staff member said she considers allegations of voter intimidation very serious and that’s why she wants the Justice Department to be involved.
Shackelford told WND the King Street Patriots became concerned after the discovery of the “massive voter irregularity.” They decided to get training, find their own sponsors, and watch the actions at the precinct polling locations.
He said among the reports that have come in were those that poll watchers saw election officials actually voting for some residents, and other election officials encouraging voters to pursue a straight party-line ticket.
Some of the observers, ordinary volunteers including housewives and others, “have been coming back in tears, completely shocked by the treatment they’ve received,” he said.
Shackelford warned that if it’s going on in one county, too, there undoubtedly would be other counties with election issues.
But he said the idea is spreading, and there probably are several dozen other organizations that have sprung up around the nation intent on watching out for and reporting any election law violation or fraud.
Earlier, when the complaints about intimidation first erupted, Terry O’Rourke, the first assistant in the county attorney’s office, said the poll watchers were “almost all white and middle class” and were going into “low-income neighborhoods.”
At that time it was Gerry Birnberg, the Harris County Democratic chairman, who told reporters that a number of complaints had been submitted about poll watchers “hovering” over voters and “getting in their face.”
A spokeswoman for local U.S. attorney’s office said their team was playing no role in the review of events, but that the investigators from the DOJ headquarters in Washington were involved, and a spokesman in D.C. confirmed that for WND.
She described the involvement of the agency run by Attorney General Eric Holder as “looking into allegations of voter intimidation.”
“It may well be that these tea partiers (or other poll watchers, since it’s not clear who belongs to the group) are out of line in some of their behavior (not unlike Michelle Obama on her trip to the polls), and if so, they should be kicked out of the polling places and punished for whatever the problem is. But given that the case against them has been built and brought by the Texas Democratic Party, it’s at least worth considering what sort of collusion is going on and whether the problem is that there are poll watchers in certain locations, full stop.
“Obama’s politicized Justice Department has already lost all credibility when it comes to even-handed administration of justice on this matter. They let the Black Panthers off with one wrist-slap and two complete dismissals after their flagrant voter intimidation was caught on tape. Now they’re worried about poll watchers ‘talking to voters…'” he continued.
His reference to Michelle Obama was over the recent report, highlighted on the Drudge Report, about how she voted in Illinois, then let other voters take photographs with her.
“She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband’s agenda going,” reported electrician Dennis Campbell.
But Drudge quoted a state law that prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place.
No problem, Drudge quoted a state board of elections official explaining, “You kind of have to drop the standard for the first lady, right? I mean, she’s pretty well liked and probably doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
WND previously reported on the Philadelphia case, which was documented on video.
As WND reported, the Justice Department originally brought the case against four armed men who witnesses say derided voters with catcalls of “white devil” and “cracker” and told voters they should prepare to be “ruled by the black man.”
One poll watcher called police after he reportedly saw one of the men brandishing a nightstick to threaten voters.
“As I walked up, they closed ranks, next to each other,” the witness told Fox News at the time. “So I walked directly in between them, went inside and found the poll watchers. They said they’d been here for about an hour. And they told us not to come outside because a black man is going to win this election no matter what.”
He said the man with a nightstick told him, “‘We’re tired of white supremacy,’ and he starts tapping the nightstick in his hand. At which point I said, ‘OK, we’re not going to get in a fistfight right here,’ and I called the police.”
Subsequently, former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the Voting Section of Attorney General Eric Holder’s organization is dominated by a “culture of hostility” toward bringing cases against blacks and other minorities who violate voting-rights laws.
Further, two other former U.S. Department of Justice attorneys later corroborated key elements of the explosive allegations by Adams.
One of Adams’ DOJ colleagues, former Voting Section trial attorney Hans A. von Spakovsky, told WND he saw Adams was being attacked in the media for lack of corroboration. He said he knew Adams was telling the truth, so he decided on his own to step forward.
It was Adams who had been ordered by his superiors to drop a case prosecutors already had won. When they were ordered to stop prosecution, Adams and the team of DOJ lawyers had already won the case by default because the New Black Panthers declined to defend themselves in court. At that point in the proceedings, the DOJ team was simply waiting for the judge to assign penalties against the New Black Panthers.