Mother Jones has a leaked video that tells a damning story. It’s not a coincidence that legislatures under GOP control in Red States are moving so quickly to suppress voting. The Heritage Foundation is coordinating a systematic effort to rig elections to elect Republicans. Ari Berman and Nick Surgey have the details:
In a private meeting last month with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”
The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones. Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.
Here’s excerpts from the video with explanations.
To “create this echo chamber,” as Anderson put it, Heritage is spending $24 million over two years in eight battleground states—Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin—to pass and defend restrictive voting legislation. Every Tuesday, the group leads a call with right-wing advocacy groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, Tea Party Patriots, and FreedomWorks to coordinate these efforts at the highest levels of the conservative movement. “We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,” Anderson said. “All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.”
They are reinforcing the false idea that there is widespread voter fraud, reinforcing the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen by Democrats. This, of course, undermines confidence in our elections and the legitimacy of our government — when Democrats win.
It doesn’t stop there. They are also working to discredit the Democratic efforts to enact real voting reform.
In addition to pushing state-based voting restrictions, Heritage Action is leading the effort to block the passage of HR 1, Democrats’ sweeping democracy reform bill that would preempt many of these voter suppression laws by enacting policies like automatic and Election Day registration, two weeks of early voting, and expanded mail-in voting on a nationwide basis. “HR 1 is basically the dream bill of every left-wing advocacy group we’ve been fighting against for years on election issues,” von Spakovsky said at the donor event.
Von Spakovsky said at the beginning of the year that Heritage put out “a short summary of the worst provisions of a 900-page bill. Now, you all know congressional staffers don’t like reading 900-page bills. That fact sheet we put out is being used by congressional staffers, members of Congress, to go up and fight HR 1.” The group dubbed the bill the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” a label that was soon being used by leading Republicans like Ted Cruz.
They know exactly what they are doing.
In March, the group organized a rally in West Virginia to urge centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to oppose the bill and “stand up for WV values,” according to an invitation obtained by Documented, even as it bused in conservative activists from states hundreds of miles away. Heritage Action announced on Wednesday it would run ads this summer pressuring Democratic senators in West Virginia, Arizona, Montana, and New Hampshire to preserve the filibuster in order to block HR 1.
Does Senator Manchin realize he’s being played? These people have lots of money and they are not afraid to use it.
The Heritage Foundation was co-founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, a well-connected conservative activist on a mission to create more aggressive conservative infrastructure to rival more liberal think tanks like the Brookings Institution. Weyrich, who was also Heritage’s first president, went on to co-found the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which pairs corporations with conservative state legislators to draft model legislation, and the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell, which mobilized evangelical voters behind GOP causes and candidates. Heritage received major funding from leading right-wing donors such as Charles and David Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Joseph Coors.
Read the whole thing. The Heritage Foundation is systematically undermining democracy in this country, and has been for years. The long game, they plays it.