You thought there’d at least be a satisfying shout of “Aha!” from Republicans and conservatives who’ve fiercely argued the need of the stringent new voting access laws passed recently in several GOP-controlled states to guard against voter fraud, even though repeated studies say it’s nearly non-existent in this country.
But they finally got their Exhibit A proving otherwise; a voter fraud case apparently so egregious that it forced a member of the House of Representatives to quietly but abruptly resign last week during the July 4 recess.
But instead of “I Told You So” press releases, back-slapping, high-fives, or chest-thumping, there was nothing but silence from voting law advocates in the wake of a voter fraud scandal that ensnared Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Michigan.
“The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family,” McCotter said in a statement announcing his resignation. “Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must strike another match, go start anew by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.”
That’s fancy talk for “I’m outta here.”
McCotter doesn’t fit the visuals projected by those who support laws requiring people to present government-approved photo identification to register or vote and other measures that critics say are nothing but naked efforts to suppress the votes of the black, brown, young, elderly and poor, a consortium that usually goes by one name: Democrats.
McCotter, a somewhat quirky guitar-playing Republican, was friends with House Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House GOP leadership and held a mid-level policy position within the hierarchy. He briefly sought the 2012 Republican presidential nomination in one of the most forgettable campaigns in recent history.
His district wasn’t a high-density minority area where groups like the Tea Party-powered True the Vote plan to flood with an army of volunteer poll watchers in November to make sure ballots being cast are on the up and up.
Michigan’s 11th Congressional District is 90.9 percent white, 3.7 percent black and just 2 percent Hispanic. It is one of the wealthier districts in Michigan with a median income of $59,177.
But that didn’t make the good citizens of the 11th – or McCotter – immune from voter fraud. McCotter earlier announced that he would leave Congress at the end of his two-year term after he failed to gain the 1,000 petition signatures needed to be put on the ballot.
But a review by Michigan’s Republican secretary of state discovered that only 200 to 300 of the 2,000 total ballots submitted by McCotter’s campaign were valid. That spells fraud.
"When proponents of these measures say this (new voting laws) is a tool to prevent voter fraud, they're missing the point," Hilary Shelton, head of the NAACP's Washington bureau told USA Today this week. "Most of the corruption that occurs is by polling officials, those who are put in place to protect and administer process. It's not people pretending to be someone they are not."
McCotter said he’s cooperating with the state attorney general’s investigation into how so many fraudulent signatures got on his petition. In the meantime, the ex-congressman, ex-presidential candidate and lead guitarist is looking for work.
In his commitment to rebuild his family life, McCotter apparently shopped around a tawdry television script for a show starring the former five-term congressman that The Detroit News described as follows:
“Bumper Sticker: Made on Motown” starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers, his brother and a drunk, perverted ‘Black Santa.’ They take pot shots about McCotter’s ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women’s anatomy.”
And who says they don’t get things done in Washington?
While new voter law supporters aren’t loudly cheering an apparent victory against voter fraud, they’ve been equally silent about another case, this one involving Indiana’s top election official.
A Hamilton County, Indiana, jury convicted then-Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, a Republican, guilty last February of six felonies, including voter fraud for voting in the wrong precinct in the May 2010 primary.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was rumored to be on presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s short list for vice president, didn’t immediately sack White upon his conviction.
“I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder,” Daniels explained at the time. “If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly.”
Daniels picked a new secretary of state last March.
Voter fraud. Studies say it doesn’t happen often. But when it does, it’s a doozy.