House GOPer: Investigate Planned Parenthood Just Because They Provide Abortions

Rep. Dianne Black, R-Tenn., spoke today at the Family Research Council about her work on the House’s “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” that House Republicans convened in response to the Center for Medical Progress’ smear of Planned Parenthood but that has a broad mandate to investigate basically anything involving abortion providers.

In her opening remarks, Black acknowledged that she saw the panel as an extension of her efforts to “go after” Planned Parenthood that began even before the Center for Medical Progress released its videos that claimed, falsely, that the women’s health organization illegally profits from the small amount of fetal tissue it donates to medical research. In fact, she said, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion is evidence enough that “we must expose them.”

“Even before last summer’s videos were exposing Planned Parenthood and their role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts,” she said, “their own annual report told us in black and white why we must expose them and go after what they stood for: They’re the largest abortion provider in this nation. They perform more than 320,000 abortions annually while they receive over $500 million of taxpayer dollars to perform these abortions.” (This last figure is incorrect: Planned Parenthood is barred by federal law from using taxpayer funding on abortions except in very limited cases.)

Black recalled how the very first law she introduced in Congress was a 2011 measure to cut funding from Planned Parenthood in a short-term spending bill but that her project met with “tepid” reception on Capitol Hill until David Daleiden’s videos provided an “opportunity” to further that goal.

Earlier this year, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have cut all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which Black said means “if we had a willing partner in the White House, this is possible, so we cannot give up.”

She said that the select panel was designed as an alternative to this legislation: “We wanted to focus, since this didn’t become law, on the first steps that we can take to hold the abortion industry accountable that don’t require the signature of a president. And that was the genesis, really, of the [committee.]”

Remarkably, after explicitly saying that the panel grew out of her years-long fight against Planned Parenthood, Black said that the panel is not actually meant to target Planned Parenthood.

“They’ve called us a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, though Planned Parenthood is never named anywhere in the resolution that authorizes the panel’s formation and was not called to testify at either one of our two public hearings that we have head to this point,” she said.

Later in the speech, when asked by an audience member what medical providers can do to help prevent abortion, Black responded that doctors should “help to educate young women with prevention first, using healthy practices to prevent pregnancies before they’re ready for that family” — which is, incidentally, the exact kind of medical care that much of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes toward.

Black’s full presentation is here:

Tony Perkins: If Americans Followed Obama, The Koran Would Be The State Book Of Tennessee

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, devoted his “Washington Watch” radio program yesterday to discussing a Tennessee bill making the Bible the state’s official book, which was vetoed by the state’s Republican governor after being approved by its legislature.

At one point, a listener called in to share his wish that “the United States government would enact a bill where the Holy Bible was the Bible of the United States,” noting that many government buildings have references to the Bible on them.

Perkins responded that “if the left has their way, they’re going to break out the jackhammers and the sandblasters and they’re going to try to take that off of the buildings. They’re trying to certainly take it out of the hearts and minds of people, especially our children, as they drive it far from our schools and now from the public square, and eventually they’re going to get back around to these buildings.”

He told the caller that he was right that “the best defense is a good offense” and that “we need to show that, you know what, the American people are not going to take this lying down. We have every right to have our views reflected in our government by our elected officials.”

Perkins then returned to a conversation he had had with an earlier caller who had opposed the Tennessee bill and asked Perkins how he would feel if a state named the Koran its official book.

“Well, if the Koran as the state book could get through Tennessee,” he said, “our nation is a lot worse off than I ever thought, even though after we’ve had Barack Obama for seven years and I know he’s done everything he can to promote Islam in this country, but we’re not at that point yet because the American people are not following him.”

Bryan Fischer Says Tenn. Gov. Is 'Doing The Devil's Work' By Vetoing Bible Legislation

Yesterday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the state's official book and American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer kicked off his radio program today by declaring that, in doing so, Haslam "was doing the devil's work."

Citing Psalm 119, Fischer said that studying the Bible "imparts understanding to the simple," which is why Satan is "so intent on keeping the word of God out of our public school system."

Fischer said that Haslam and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who recently vetoed legislation that would have allowed the Bible to be used in public school instruction, were both doing the work of the devil.

Otter and Haslam, Fischer said, were cooperating "with the agenda of Satan, who hates the Bible, [who] hates the word of God."

Does Ted Cruz's Religious Liberty Message Include Muslims?

Last week, BuzzFeed released a story about how Muslims in Tennessee have faced a rash of threats, vandalism, hate crimes and, in at least one case, a firebombing. Buzzfeed notes that the state “became a key battleground in a national anti-Muslim movement whose influence has culminated, for now, in the presidential campaigns of Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom are being advised by people whose views on Islam were once considered too extreme for mainstream politics.”

One of the advisers BuzzFeed mentions is Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, whose group’s material was cited by Trump when he called for Muslims to be banned from the country and who has since emerged as an official adviser to Cruz on security issues. Cruz has defended Gaffney as “a serious thinker” and once claimed that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in the United States.

Buzzfeed recounts Gaffney’s effort, along with another future Cruz campaign leader, Kevin Kookogey, to smear a state government official who was Muslim:

In 2012, Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, appointed a young lawyer named Samar Ali to the state’s economic development agency. The hiring caused a furious backlash, with several local and national figures claiming Ali had been brought on to make Tennessee “Sharia-compliant.” Many of the accusations came from the Center for Security Policy, a major anti-Muslim group run by former Reagan-era defense official Frank Gaffney. A resolution to condemn Ali’s hiring was pushed by Kevin Kookogey, who was then the chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party and is now the Tennessee chairman of Ted Cruz’s campaign. Gaffney is now one of Cruz’s foreign-policy advisers.

The furor gave Ali a sharp sense of whiplash. She was born and raised in Nashville, the daughter of Palestinian and Syrian immigrants, and she describes her childhood as “almost Pollyannish.” She considered herself a patriot. “I took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. constitution,” she says. Yet there she stood, publicly accused of belonging to a jihadist fifth column. “It was a very painful experience.”

Gaffney’s group said that Ali would bring “financial jihadists” into “the Volunteer state for infiltration and influence operations,” warning that “someone in a powerful position on the inside of the halls of power in the state can only be viewed as an opportunity for those who seek to embed Shariah law into America’s financial system.”

Gaffney also testified on behalf of a group that sought to block the construction of a mosque in the town of Murfreesboro.

According to the Associated Press, the lawyer representing the mosque opponents argued that the mosque was part of “a conspiracy to take over America” and “replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law” and questioned “whether the world’s second-biggest faith qualifies as a religion” protected by the First Amendment. The Justice Department had to take the unusual step of filing a brief affirming that Islam is in fact a religion.

“Gaffney testified that Shariah, and by extension the new mosque, poses a threat to America,” the AP reported.

“I don’t hold myself out as an expert on Sharia Law,” Gaffney said. “But I have talked a lot about that as a threat.”

“Any elected official responsible for their community should be concerned about their presence,” he told the court. (Following the hearing, Gaffney alleged to reporters that President Obama’s security adviser John Brennan — now the director of the CIA — was committing felony sedition because of his views on Islam.)

When the mosque opponents failed to prohibit the establishment of the Murfreesboro mosque, they asked the county government to seize the building as a threat to public safety, citing Gaffney’s testimony that it could be used to spread terrorism.

While this lawsuit was once seen as bizarre and unusual, its message has been embraced by those close to Cruz. And not just Gaffney.

In fact, the arguments that the Murfreesboro mosque opponents made are very similar to those put forward by Cruz national security adviser Jerry Boykin, who has said that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” and wants “no mosques in America,” and by Cruz adviser Andy McCarthy, who has similarly stated that the government should not treat Islam as a religious faith.

The chairman of Cruz’s “religious liberty advisory council,” Tony Perkins, has similarly stated that Islam is not a religion protected by the Constitution.

It is no wonder, then, that Cruz, who has made specious tales of anti-Christian discrimination and warnings about dire threats to religious liberty central pieces of his campaign, just recently called for the government to profile Muslims and “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.”

Tennessee Senate Votes To Officially Honor Bible Alongside Sniper Rifle

On Monday the Tennessee Senate voted to make the Bible the state’s official book, even though the state’s attorney general argued that it conflicts with the state constitution, which says, “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.” That seems pretty clear cut.

The fate of the Bible bill is now in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s hands. According to the Tennessean, Haslam has raised questions about its constitutionality. The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Steve Southerland, tried to mask the religious intention of the legislation by arguing that the Bible is “a history book.”

The legislation also seems to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, though some  Religious Right figures, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, do not believe the Establishment Clause applies at all to the states. They would argue that Tennessee lawmakers could go even further and declare Protestant Christianity the state’s official religion.

They haven’t gone that far yet. But there’s no telling how far the religious politicking might go. The American Bible Society recently reported that two Tennessee cities are among the nation's top five "most Bible-minded." More from Associated Press’s Erik Schelzig:

In solidly Republican Tennessee, heavy doses of God and guns are considered reliable election-year politics.

The Bible bill came to a vote just days before the candidate filing deadline, giving lawmakers pause about being portrayed by political rivals as being as opposed to the Bible if they voted against the bill.

State lawmakers recently made a .50-caliber sniper rifle the official state rifle. The Tennessean notes that if Haslam signs the bill, Christianity’s sacred scripture “would join a list of state symbols such as the raccoon as the state’s wild animal, the Eastern box turtle as the state reptile, the square dance as the state folk dance, milk as the official state beverage and the Barrett M82 sniper rifle as the official state rifle, which lawmakers approved earlier in the session.”

Cal Zastrow: 'Sodomite Police' Will Take Your Husband If States Don't Nullify SCOTUS Ruling

Personhood USA cofounder Cal Zastrow joined Tennessee state Rep. Mark Pody at an event in Nashville recently in support of efforts to pass legislation that would nullify the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision in the state, warning that failure to do so would result in people eventually being rounded up by the "sodomite police."

Zastrow warned that the "sodomites" and the "perverts" would oppose the legislation on the grounds that it would just be a waste of time and money, since the law is obviously unconstitutional and will simply be struck down, but such criticism should be ignored because this law is the only way "to stop perverted marriage."

"Years from now, do you want to get the phone call," Zastrow asked, "from your kids or your grand kids saying, 'Mom, Dad, the sodomite police or the population police just came and took my husband away. Dad, Mom, why didn't you fight evil when you could?'"

Tenn. State Rep. Mark Pody Was Called By God To Warn That Gay Marriage Is 'Wicked'

Last week, far-right activist "Coach" Dave Daubenmire posted a video of himself introducing Tennessee state Rep. Mark Pody at an event in Nashville designed to generate support for a bill Pody wrote that seeks to negate the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling by declaring that the state will only recognize marriages between one man and one woman and that any court decision to the contrary "is unauthoritative, void, and of no effect."

Speaking at the event, Pody declared that, in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, God told him that he was called to be a watchman, tasked with warning the wicked that the price of their sin would be death and that is why he drafted this legislation.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Pody said, "I believe I'm supposed to be speaking to the unsaved, to the people that are performing same-sex marriages, to the people involved in same-sex marriage, it is wicked, it is wrong and I am doing the best I can to warn them."

"I believe that the bill that we're are trying to put out right now is to say, 'No, it will not happen here!'" he continued. "I believe that Nashville, Tennessee, is the time and the place that we put down the stake and we say, 'No more!'"

Now is the time for Christians to rise up against this "unconstitutional tyranny," Pody declared, because "the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being" and God is working miracles in generating support for his legislation.

GOP Congressman Confused Why Planned Parenthood Gets More Money Than Boys And Girls Clubs

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent much of her time at yesterday’s House Oversight Committee hearing on her organization’s federal funding explaining how Medicaid reimbursements work. Planned Parenthood, just like other health care providers that accept Medicaid, receives reimbursements for its health care services for low-income people, excluding abortion services.

Many Republican members of the committee, however, were unable or unwilling to grasp this, including Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee, who demanded that Richards explain why Planned Parenthood gets more federal funding than the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Richards noted that the Boys and Girls Club, which receives some grants from the Justice Department for its youth programs, is not a health care provider.

“Well, I think the cost of providing health care to 2.7 million people, and I very much respect the Boys and Girls Club, but we work like hospitals and other health care providers in being reimbursed directly for services that we provide,” Richards explained. “Again, I think the comparison is a little apples and oranges.”

After Richards explained again how Medicaid reimbursements work, Duncan changed strategies and asked Richards to clarify that she does not “defend the sale of baby body parts.”

Like His Wife, Joe Davis Has Now Become A Religious Right Celebrity

Yesterday, the Family Research Council announced that Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who became a Religious Right hero for prohibiting her office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, would be receiving an award at its upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

It turns out that Kim is not the only member of the family who has been transformed into a Religious Right celebrity, as her second/fourth husband Joe Davis will be a featured speaker at an upcoming "Stand in the Gap for Truth" rally being organized by the Tennessee Pastors Network, which is an arm of the American Pastors Network.

Davis will be speaking along with Richard Land, E.W. Jackson, Rafael Cruz and several others:

Joe Davis had been living a quiet life in Kentucky with his wife, Kim. But this summer, the Davises were thrown into the national spotlight over religious freedoms and the rights all Americans have when it comes to their closely held religious convictions.

As Kim returned to work in the Rowan County’s clerk’s office yesterday, after being jailed for six days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to any couple, Joe is traveling to Nashville to rally others to stand for their freedoms like his wife did.

On Thursday, Joe Davis, often seen wearing his signature straw hat and overalls, will be a part of an exciting and much-needed event that will help motivate Tennesseans to defend their religious freedom and uphold God’s design for the nation at the “Stand in the Gap for Truth” Rally, hosted by the Tennessee Pastors Network (TNPN, www.tnpastors.net).

Starting at 11 a.m. Sept. 17, the rally will take place at the Legislative Plaza, 301 6th Ave N in Nashville. Pastors throughout Tennessee who are part of TNPN will partner with state legislators to host the event that will engage Tennesseans to address the most talked-about issues of the day such as shifting marriage and family foundations, an unworkable immigration system, weak terrorism laws, failing education, a damaging nationalized health care system, lack of religious freedom protections and the blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“This summer, Kim and Joe Davis have been a part of a religious freedom battle of a lifetime,” said TNPN President Dale Walker. “And now, we are honored to welcome Joe to the ‘Stand in the Gap for Truth’ Rally, as he has shared about their experiences that have essentially changed this nation’s history. We are thankful for those like the Davises who have stood for freedom—not only for themselves, but for all Americans. In Nashville on Thursday, we want to fill the Legislative Plaza with thousands who want to take that stand, too.”

Ted Cruz Picks Tennessee Sharia-Hunter As State Campaign Chair

Last month, we noted that Sen. Ted Cruz had picked Lee Bright, a state senator with a record of stoking fears of a new civil war, to co-chair his presidential campaign in South Carolina. Cruz has now made a similarly revealing choice in Tennessee, according to the AP, picking Tea Party activist and former Williamson Country GOP chairman Kevin Kookogey to lead his campaign in that state.

Back in 2012, Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam faced a backlash within his own party. His offense? Picking a Muslim American woman who had previously built expertise in Sharia-compliant finance — helping Muslim business owners arrange for loans in ways that don’t run afoul of religious restrictions on paying or collecting interest — to a top economic position in the state.

Egged on by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, who warned that “ the financial jihadists will soon be targeting the Volunteer state for infiltration and influence operations,” a number of county GOP committees passed resolutions condemning Haslam for his hire. One of those resolutions was spearheaded by Kookogey, who told Talking Points Memo that Haslam had neglected to “consider that, perhaps, those bent on destroying Western Civilization might just be infiltrating our institutions.”

“It is not like this has never happened before,” he continued. “The Muslim Brotherhood is following the blueprint of the Communists, who infiltrated the highest levels of government and society in the 1950's. Shariah, however, is an even greater threat, because it has cloaked itself under the auspices of a religion, thus confusing the uninformed."

Kookogey also used his position as county GOP chairman to warn that Agenda 21 — a nonbinding UN sustainable development resolution signed by President George H.W. Bush — “ is, in fact, an insidious strategy of environmental totalitarianism”:

Of course, the choice of Kookogey as a top state official isn’t a huge surprise coming from Cruz, who himself has claimed that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in American life and warned that Agenda 21 is a scheme to abolish golf courses.

PFAW Foundation and Leadership Programs Support #Unite4Marriage

Marriage equality supporters are currently organizing around the April 28 oral arguments before the Supreme Court and a ruling expected in the coming months on whether the fundamental right to marry enshrined in the US Constitution is limited to opposite-sex couples. There will be events in DC and in communities across the country.
PFAW Foundation

State Legislator Bravely Moves To Eliminate 'No-Go Zones' In Tennessee

A Republican state legislator in Tennessee has introduced a bill to root out and eliminate so-called “no-go zones” in the state, despite no evidence that such zones exist in Tennessee or anywhere else.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Susan Lynn, instructs the state attorney general to “report to the department of justice that a no-go zone exists within political subdivisions of the state” and to then “take all necessary steps to eliminate the no-go zone to enforce compliance with state and federal law.”

It defines a “no-go zone” as “a contiguous geographical area consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area.”

Lynn told the Tennessean that her bill was not meant to target Muslims, although she had heard of “no-go zones” being established by “certain religious groups.” She added that her effort is “the same sort of thing” as federal efforts to desegregate schools:

[Lynn] argues her bill doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Muslims. She said banning such zones will combat systemic problems and protect commerce.

"You might find it with gang activity, you might find it with organized crime, and of course we have heard that there were some places where it is happening with certain religious groups," Lynn said.

There are already laws that prevent gangs, or anyone else, from harassing people in public spaces. Lynn argued those laws might help prevent one-time events, but they're no use for "a systemic" problem. She said the federal government intervening to force public universities to allow black students to attend during the Civil Rights era is "really the same sort of thing."

"People were prevented from getting an education. Do you call the police for that? Well no, that's not the right mechanism. They had to call the Department of Justice," Lynn said.

Tennessee has long been on the forefront of combatting nonexistent Muslim threats, passing one of the nation’s first Sharia law bans in 2010. The sponsor of the senate version of Lynn’s bill is Bill Ketron, introduced a bill in 2011 that would have jailed anyone who personally adhered to Sharia law, and once fretted that a low-set bathroom sink in the state capitol was installed for Muslims to wash their feet before prayer (it was, in fact, meant for janitors to wash their mops).

Why Tennessee's Anti-Choice Measure Won, While Colorado's And North Dakota's Went Down In Flames

Yesterday, voters in Tennessee approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to remove all legal protections for abortion rights, paving the way for state lawmakers to pass broad abortion restrictions. At the same time, voters in Colorado and North Dakota overwhelmingly rejected “personhood” measures that would have given the full rights of citizenship to zygotes, thereby criminalizing all abortion along with some forms of birth control. In Colorado, where the nation’s foremost personhood advocacy group is based, it was the third time such a measure had been rejected by voters.

Yesterday’s results are the product of a split among the anti-choice movement about how to achieve the goal of criminalizing all abortions. While most of the movement shares this end-game, its leaders are bitterly divided over the best strategy to achieve it.

The nation’s largest and best-funded anti-choice groups, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, favor an incremental approach to chipping away at the protections guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. The incremental strategy has had tremendous success in recent years as measures on the state level have forced scores of abortion clinics to shut their doors. Women in Cincinnati, for instance, still have a legal right to an abortion. But thanks to a recent law aimed at shutting down abortion providers, they may soon lose access to the city’s only clinic that provides the service.

And even in North Dakota, although zygotes won’t be given the legal rights of people (at least for the time being), anti-choice activists are targeting the state’s sole abortion provider, which was struggling to keep its doors open and was recently banned from administering medical abortions.

The personhood movement is angry at mainstream anti-choice leaders for being willing to accept “compromise” legislation that includes exceptions for survivors of rape and incest. But it also thinks that the incremental strategy won’t work. Instead, personhood advocates seek to take advantage of a loophole in Roe v. Wade by which, they believe, if a zygote or a fetus is defined by law as a legal person, Roe’s abortion protections will fall. Groups pushing the so-far unsuccessful personhood ballot measures have allies in this strategy in some far-right judges, most notably on the Alabama Supreme Court, who are trying to build a legal framework for undermining Roe.

On the electoral level, the personhood strategy’s biggest flaw may be it is just too honest about the goals of the anti-choice movement. While Americans are fairly evenly split between those who call themselves pro-choice and those who choose the label pro-life, 70 percent want to keep Roe v. Wade and only 24 percent want to overturn it. Americans have muddled views about circumstances under which they think abortion should be legal, but know that they don’t want it to be completely criminalized.

Groups like Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List know this and have stayed far away from personhood measures. When a Mother Jones reporter asked AUL for a comment on North Dakota’s measure, a spokeswoman replied, “AUL does not handle personhood issues.”

But other national groups have supported these measures. While National Right to Life’s affiliate in Colorado opposed that state’s measure , saying it would be “immediately overturned in court,” the national group’s North Dakota affiliate backed its state’s even more extreme measure. And while Colorado Republican senator-elect Cory Gardner ran away from the personhood issue, both of North Dakota’s senators supported the ballot measure in their state. The Family Research Council’s North Dakota affiliate also got behind the measure in its state, along with the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and the North Dakota Catholic Conference.

And despite the unpopularity of their bills at the ballot box, personhood advocates still have a strong hold in Congress, where “life at conception” bills have 22 sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House.

But in the end, even as anti-choice Republicans won handily in Colorado and North Dakota, the personhood measures went down in flames, leading the proponents of the Colorado proposal to rejoice that they at least lost less badly than they had in the past.

The victory of the measure in Tennessee — which will allow legislators to broadly cut off access to abortion rights without explicitly criminalizing abortion — shows that, for now, the incrementalists’ strategy is winning. Even voters in dark-red states like North Dakota can’t stomach a bill that outright criminalizes all abortions. But the anti-choice movement’s strategy to approach the same goal through different means is, so far, working.

Kris Kobach Doesn't Like The New GAO Study Showing His Voter ID Law Decreased Turnout

Surprise! A new Government Accountability Office study shows that Kansas’ new voter ID requirement depressed turnout in the 2012 election, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is not happy about it.

Kobach was the driving force behind Kansas’ voter ID law, which he called the “Cadillac of voter security.” The law passed in 2011, and its photo ID requirement kicked in for the 2012 election — that’s the provision that the GAO found decreased turnout, especially among young people and African Americans.

But since then, a new provision in the law has taken effect, making it even harder to vote in Kansas. As of last month, tens of thousands of Kansans had had their voter registrations suspended because of failure to provide one of a narrow list of “proof of citizenship” documents required under this new, Kobach-backed provision.

The “proof of citizenship” fiasco has become a main issue in Kobach’s tough reelection fight, causing many moderate Republicans to break ranks and back his Democratic opponent Jean Schodorf.

So, unsurprisingly, Kobach is not thrilled with the GAO study showing that even the first step of his “Cadillac” plan is driving people from voting, telling the Wichita Eagle that the report from the nonpartisan agency is just “dead wrong.”

“I think the GAO just got it dead wrong,” Kobach told The Eagle Wednesday. “This year we have a very competitive U.S. Senate race and lots of get-out-the-vote efforts. It’s a huge factor in driving turnout when campaigns spend this kind of money.”

Kobach also said it would have been more accurate to compare Kansas’ turnout in 2012 to its turnout in 2000, the last time there were no U.S. Senate or statewide offices on the ballot. In 2000, voter turnout was 66.7 percent, and in 2012, it was 66.8 percent.

The report says voter turnout decreased in Kansas and Tennessee from the 2008 to the 2012 general elections to a greater extent than turnout decreased in selected comparison states – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware and Maine. Tennessee’s secretary of state, Tre Hargett, also called the study flawed.

The GAO stood by its study, saying its “methodology was robust and valid.”

Rebecca Gambler, director of homeland security and justice issues for the GAO, said the agency selected Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware and Maine for comparison because they did not have any changes to their state voter ID requirements between 2008 and 2012.

“They didn’t have other contemporaneous changes. They had similar election cycles to Kansas and Tennessee,” Gambler said.

The GAO reported that its analysis “suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in comparison states were attributable to changes in the two states’ voter ID requirements.”

Tennessee Republican On Why Voters Should Support Him Over Muslim Rival: 'I Am A Christian'

A Tennessee Republican county commissioner is campaigning against his Democratic challenger, a Muslim-American, by questioning his opponent’s patriotism while reminding voters of his own Christian beliefs.

A report from Sunday’s The Tennessean highlights a letter Coffee County Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly sent voters alleging that his opponent has made statements calling for the American flag and the Bible to be removed from public spaces … even though “Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when [Zak] Mohyuddin made such statements.”

Kelly told The Tennessean that the letter was just to remind voters of “the difference in views between two people,” namely that he is a Christian and Mohyuddin is not.

Last year, Coffee County Commissioner Barry West posted an image of a man aiming a shotgun with the caption: “How to wink at a Muslim.”

H/T: RWW reader Chris.

In a July 16 letter asking District 15 constituents for their vote, Republican Commissioner Mark Kelly made the following claims about his Democratic political opponent, Zak Mohyuddin:

"My opponent has expressed his beliefs publicly that the United States is not a Christian nation; that the American flag should be removed from public buildings because it is a symbol of tyranny and oppression; that public prayer should be banned because it insults non-Christians; and that the Bible should be removed from public places."

When questioned by The Tennessean about how he knew the statements were true, Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when Mohyuddin made such statements. He said he had heard it during private conversations with him.

Mohyuddin, a 25-year resident of Tullahoma, was deeply offended by the statements and is scrambling to assure voters the claims are untrue as early voting began Friday.

"That is a very serious allegation. What he is saying is vile and offensive and completely untrue," Mohyuddin said. "It's an attack on my patriotism. I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies. It's not like he doesn't know me."

Kelly, who has known Mohyuddin for 25 years and helped him move into his home, told The Tennessean he is not anti-Muslim and that he stands by his letter.

"I am a Christian and have been and will be. Zak isn't, and he has a different faith and there are a lot of different faiths," Kelly said. "I am standing on my values and my record. The point of the letter was to encourage the conservative base to get out and vote. It was simply to show the difference in views between two people, not that one is right or wrong, just a difference."

Kelly also wrote in the letter: "I believe in the Christian values and work ethics that are the foundation of this great nation … Our Founding Fathers prayed to God and established our Nation and its Laws based on the Judeo-Christian principles of the Bible. Because the Bible is foundational to understanding American history and law as well as our heritage; the Bible belongs in public places."

People For the American Way and Allies Tell Congress, "Stand up for Safe Schools"

Today People for the American Way sent a letter to every member of Congress urging their support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). We are joined by twenty-four other safe schools supporters also sending letters to Congress. Each of us has taken a day to tell the House and Senate that this issue is not forgotten, that quality education means education without discrimination.
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