Monday, February 20, 2006
Abbott Grandstands for Voter Suppression
Letter to the editor of the Texarkana Gazette
In the recent indictments of Texarkana City Councilwoman Willie Ray and two other citizens by Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, the charges are alleged misdemeanors for picking up completed mail ballots from voters and carrying the ballots to place them in the mail for the voters. No voters are claimed to have illegally or fraudulently voted, and nobody is claimed to have forged or falsified a ballot, a signature, or a vote. So why does Attorney General Abbott trumpet in his statewide press release and on his website that he has achieved indictments for "VOTER FRAUD?"
The alleged misdemeanors occurred in the 2004 elections, yet it took over a year to hand down indictments right before the 2006 primary elections. Could indicting a popular East Texas African-American community leader for "Voter Fraud" right before early voting starts be part of a Republican attempt to scare Texas minority citizens from participating in the political process? There is a track record to consider - the events of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 leave little doubt of the Republican Party's agenda to suppress and intimidate minority citizens from voting.
If Ms. Ray indeed committed a misdemeanor as alleged, she should be appropriately punished. However, to take over a year to complete an investigation into a relatively simple misdemeanor allegation, to leave Ms. Ray in the dark for over a year through a process that did not give her an opportunity to tell her side of the story to the grand jury, to exaggerate the seriousness of the allegation in a statewide publicity splash, and to time the indictment and publicity splash to the eve of the 2006 election cycle - these factors tell those with eyes to see exactly what is taking place. The Texas Republican Party's minority voter suppression program is well underway.
Lest anyone doubt that Greg Abbott is a top crony in the Texas Republican Party's power machine, consider this. During Abbott's 2002 election campaign for attorney general, Republican political consultant John Colyandro was one of the top operatives on Abbott's campaign payroll. The same John Colyandro has been indicted for his activities in the Tom DeLay money-laundering scandal that took place during the same time frame that he was working on Abbott's payroll. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who is one of Rick Perry's biggest contributors, and who financed the "Swift Boat Veterans'" scurrilous attack on John Kerry during the 2004 presidential race, showers some of his most generous largesse on Greg Abbott. From 2001 through 2005, Bob Perry and his wife gave over $570,000 to Abbott's campaigns. In the month of December 2005 alone, Bob Perry gave $50,000 to Abbott's re-election campaign for attorney general. And in 2003, it was Abbott's ruling as attorney general that gave Rick Perry, Tom Craddick, and David Dewhurst the permission to proceed with Tom DeLay's redistricting power grab. The Republican power machine is a private club that has been running roughshod over Texas citizens for too long, and Greg Abbott is a charter member.
The rule of law must be applied fairly, even-handedly, and impartially, with no agenda but the pursuit of justice under the Constitution and the law. Distorting the rule of law for the sake of private power agendas is not the conduct of democracy, it is the conduct of despotism. The elections of 2006 are a time for change in Texas.
posted by snarko! at 10:18 AM
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