It starts collegially enough. First witness for the Voter ID advocates is Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, who cites a grand jury report in New York City that found a 14-year conspiracy of voter impersonation in both legislative and congressional races as proof that voter fraud exists. He believes Voter ID bills help instill voter faith in the integrity of election systems, and cites studies from a variety of universities, including a collaborative effort by MIT/Cal Tech, that shows Voter ID laws do not diminish minority turnout. Democratic Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, however, wasted no time in bringing up the controversy over von Spakovsky’s nomination to the Federal Election Commission, which was derailed by fellow lawyers at the Justice Department who complained about politically-based decisions. Including, interestingly enough, his decision to overrule a DOJ staff recommendation to not clear the 2003 Texas redistricting plan. Oh great, he’s that guy? Things quickly go downhill. Shapleigh reads letters submitted to the U.S. Senate opposing von Spakovsky’s FEC appointment, including one from “a U.S. Senator from Illinois” complaining about von Spakovsky’s role in drafting the Georgia Voter ID law. Von Spakovsky calls the charge “a lie.” West asks Shapleigh: “Who was the Senator from Illinois?” Shapleigh: “Barack Obama.” Then Jeff Wentworth asks that von Spakovsky be allowed to submit written testimony rebutting the charges Shapleigh read, saying “the witness wasn’t prepared to respond to these attacks.” West objects. “I resent the implication that he was attacked. He was cross-examined like any other witness….This man has characterized the President of the United States as a liar!” Duncan quickly says: “We will take a break.” Good idea.
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