- - Monday, September 26, 2022

A statement issued last week by President Joe Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice reveals some shocking new details about how the Biden administration is going about transforming federal agencies and their state-based offices into get-out-the-vote machines for the left—all paid for by federal taxpayers.  

That effort, launched by Mr. Biden last year through Executive Order 14019, titled “Promoting Access to Voting,” includes a command to the head of every federal agency to submit to Ms. Rice a plan outlining the steps their agency will take to “promote voter registration and voter participation.”  

Promoting voter registration and voter participation sounds harmless, but when it is being carried out behind closed doors by the political appointees of a highly partisan president, there is a real concern that federal resources will be improperly leveraged by the left to help tip the election scales in their favor this November. 

Back in March 2021, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) launched an investigation to uncover the details behind this unprecedented scheme. After Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were ignored by the Biden administration, FGA sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) in federal court to compel the administration to disclose documents related to President Biden’s executive order.  

In July, the Court ruled in FGA’s favor, ordering DOJ to provide the documents required under FOIA by Sept. 8. But, as expected, when the deadline arrived, DOJ released only a fraction of the documents they earlier claimed to have, all heavily redacted, and withheld what is probably the most important document the law requires DOJ to turn over: DOJ’s strategic plan to carry out Mr. Biden’s executive order.

Their dubious claim for withholding this document was that it is protected by certain FOIA exemptions, the deliberative process and presidential communications privileges, but neither of those exemptions apply to this document as it is final and post-decisional.  

The legal fight continues and, given that a fair and impartial judge is overseeing the matter, FGA is confident that justice will ultimately prevail. Perhaps the White House agrees, and in response, they’ve ordered Ms. Rice to take ownership of this scandal—as she did with the Benghazi scandal during the Obama administration—by authoring a statement casually disclosing some shocking new revelations buried at the end. The administration believes that when the scandal finally comes fully to light they‘ll be able to point back to Ms. Rice’s statement and claim this is old news, and they weren’t really hiding anything.    

But Ms. Rice’s statement is truly troubling. 

According to Ms. Rice, in May, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly took the unprecedented step of designating the Haskell Indian Nations University, operated by the Department of the Interior, as a National Voter Registration Agency (NVRA)—the first federal program ever designated this way by a state.  

The NVRA has been around since 1993, but this is the first time in almost 30 years that a designation like this has ever been made by a state governor, according to Rice. This is troubling for a number of reasons, especially in light of Ms. Kelly’s scandalous history which includes questionable actions taken back in 2020, first uncovered by FGA, in which she secretly conspired with outside groups, including Demos, to conduct a voter registration drive targeted exclusively toward hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients. Demos is the same organization that developed the blueprint for Mr. Biden’s executive order and two of its employees are now in the White House carrying out the order they created.  

Based on Ms. Rice’s statement, it appears that Ms. Kelly is up to her old tricks, this time focusing her targeted registration efforts exclusively on a different group of voters which also statistically lean heavily to the left, all in coordination with the Biden administration

The fact that Ms. Kelly, someone who has a history of scheming with Demos, is pioneering this never-before-used effort to help get out the vote should concern all of us, no matter what party we happen to hail from. Were a Republican to win in 2024, would Democrats be okay if the new Republican president secretly worked with Republican governors to use taxpayer resources to mobilize only conservative voters?  

Mr. Biden’s executive order also included a mandate that federal agencies provide financial and logistical assistance to “approved” nonpartisan third-party organizations engaging in get-out-the-vote efforts. The details on who will decide which organizations will be approved, by whom, and based on what criteria were conveniently left out of the executive order, but, presumably, this will fall to Ms. Rice and her staff. 

Obviously, carrying out this part of the order would require federal agencies to open the doors to their state-based offices, and allow these third-party groups to use those offices to carry out their registration efforts. Ms. Rice’s statement confirms this is happening. In it, Ms. Rice highlights and provides a link to guidance issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) to managers of federally owned public buildings across the U.S. explaining the conditions under which that space may be used by third-party groups to engage in voter registration drives. Clearly, federally owned public buildings located across the U.S. are being turned into satellite offices for whatever left-wing voter advocacy groups the White House decides to approve. 

Several states have recognized the inherent risk of fraud in overdistribution of voting applications and forms and in allowing third parties to fill them out for others. In response, many states—primarily states with Republican-controlled legislatures—have passed new laws to curb this behavior. Yet, with a mere stroke of a pen, the Biden administration will presumably sidestep these laws and grant these third-party organizations the ability to conduct their outreach efforts from within federally controlled space, outside the oversight and reach of the state. States will be rendered powerless to enforce their election laws inside this federally controlled space. 

Ms. Rice closes her statement with a disturbing assurance that “[a]gencies across the government will continue to implement President Biden’s Executive Order using their own authorities, rolling out new initiatives as they are ready…”  

Not comforting. 

In the end, Ms. Rice’s statement and all the secrecy that continues to surround this unprecedented effort by the Biden administration begs a simple question: If Mr. Biden’s executive order is truly about “promoting access to voting,” then why hide the details of this plan? Shouldn’t they be proud to share those details? 

Clearly, it falls to organizations like FGA to shed light on this scheme and to help hold the Biden administration accountable. It’s a responsibility we will gladly shoulder.  

• Stewart Whitson is the Legal Director, and David Craig a Senior Legal Fellow, at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

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