Washington – People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) President Ralph G. Neas said today that new revelations from a “smoking email” about Governor Jeb Bush’s involvement in the attempted implementation of a voter purge list in Florida demand the appointment of a special counsel by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
In another of a series of stories surrounding the felon purge list, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported today on an email message indicating that Governor Bush was advised in early May to abandon the flawed and problematic list, but instead ordered its immediate implementation. Neas wrote to Ashcroft today to ask for an independent investigation, and released the following statement:
“It’s the smoking email. This shows that Governor Jeb Bush knew in May that the list was deeply flawed and could in fact take eligible voters off the rolls. Enough is enough. There must be an independent investigation.
“This isn’t staffers making decisions on their own. This email shows the Governor directly overruling the recommendations of state employees on May 3. On May 5, his Secretary of State, Glenda Hood, ordered the implementation of the purge. It’s amazing. It’s unconscionable.
“This from a man who knew Florida’s reputation for fair elections was at stake, who knows that as the President’s brother, his every action will be put under a microscope. The arrogance is staggering.
“The Governor had the chance to ‘pull the plug’ on an initiative that could have removed thousands of eligible voters from the rolls in Florida. He not only refused, but pushed forward with a decision that could have disenfranchised thousands of Floridians. And the state wasted more than $100,000 in legal fees trying to keep the list secret.
“Only after the state lost that lawsuit, and the news media revealed the names of thousands of eligible voters, only after the discovery that the list was racially biased, only after constant pressure from voting rights advocates did the state back down. This situation cries out for an investigation of the willful attempt to deny voting rights to Americans based on race. “
People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) is a founding member of the Election Protection coalition, a voter education, empowerment and protection initiative. Coalition members have been active in a number of lawsuits challenging decisions made by Florida officials that disadvantage Florida voters.
Neas noted that while PFAWF and the NAACP are coalition partners and have both been active in such lawsuits, they are separate organizations, and PFAWF is not “the legal arm of the NAACP,” as reported in the Herald-Tribune story.
“We are close friends and valued allies, but not quite that close,” Neas said.